Before any work can start on your film, you need to hire a film crew. This includes members of the production team, directors, writers, makeup artists, camera crew, sound guys, and much more.
However, hiring a film crew requires time, effort, and above all money. For the most part, it’s a matter of knowing what to look for and where to look for it.
This blog post will help you acquire that skill and maneuver through the process of finding a film production crew.
Major considerations while hiring a film crew
If you are a low-to-no-budget production, hiring a film crew can become quite tricky. How do you get people to offer their services without a promising pay? And how do you get quality work done with low-paid recruits?
As such, being resourceful is your biggest strength in this regard. Bargaining and bartering are must-have skills as a film producer.
It is important to match the talent type and level with your production. While producers are cautious about hiring people with less experience or skills, some projects may also suffer from an ‘over skilled’ crew.
For instance, a camera crew that’s used to working on a big budget or longer film projects might not get the intricacies of shooting a short indie film. They might have trouble improvising and working with limitations.
As a low-to-no-budget film, you often have to work with non-union workers. With a lack of defined hiring laws, this means bargaining, setting up customized contracts, etc.
Legal issues are costly to resolve. Try to avoid them by weeding out potentially problematic crew during the hiring session. Some people are hard to work with due to a lack of professional ethics.
Defining senior-level crew
To gather a film production crew more efficiently, your first step should be hiring producers, directors, and other team heads.
It saves time as the senior production crew members usually bring their team with them, or set up one on their own terms so you don’t have to worry about hiring everyone.
Even if you’re hiring the freshest talent with no experience and even if you can’t afford to pay a dime, there should still be some compensation for the people working on your project.
Otherwise, you’re just exploiting them.
Usually, low-to-no-budget productions offer screen credit to the crew that they can use to build their portfolios. Or, they offer a copy of the film for the crew’s showreels.
Productions also offer to take care of the crew’s meals. That’s not a lot, but people still take it in exchange for the experience.
You can also offer all or a combination of these depending on your circumstances.
People also work on projects on a barter basis. For instance, if you handle my camera work, I’ll write a script for you.
Be upfront about your project’s budget. Don’t promise the crew any profits you’re not sure you’re going to make.
Assuming that you’re working with non-union workers, have a clear discussion about how much time they will be able to give you, how much you expect, whether they expect compensations like fuel money, whether they’ll bring their own equipment, etc.
And as always, it’s best to put these in a contract to avoid miscommunications and legal issues.
Keeping all these considerations in mind, let’s look at how and where you can find a film crew for your next production.
How to find a film crew?
Unlike other modern businesses, the film industry still operates on good old word of mouth. Especially in production hubs like Los Angeles, California, and New York, your personal connections matter a lot.
Each project you undertake and each industry event you attend enriches your connections.
Hiring a film crew through your network proves to be efficient. You don’t have to go through a long list of applicants to find the right people for the job.
When your network recommends someone, you can easily check for credibility and get reviews on the person’s skill, experience, and work ethic.
Moreover, there’s a greater chance that your friends or industry acquaintances understand your style of work. Like-minded friends are often happy to jump on passion projects for the art.
If you can’t promise them monetary value, at the very least you can offer them credit.
Online job boards
Chances are that you won’t be able to fill all the crew member positions through your network. In such cases, you can go right to the source.
However, make sure that you vet these candidates carefully, do an industry background check, ask for referrals, etc.
Keep an open mind while selecting candidates from paid or unpaid job boards. You can find equally good talent that’s coherent with your production’s needs on both types of platforms.
You can also hire a film crew through freelance platforms like Upwork. Such platforms often categorize the candidates based on skill level, experience, and reviews. Which gives you a good place to start the vetting process.
You can also post crew calls on social media. Find relevant Facebook groups or post a job on LinkedIn. Social media works on the classic snowball effect.
You might not have the perfect crew member in your followers, but your followers may share the job with their connections and so on.
This helps get the word out and may get you in touch with several interested candidates.
But again, you need to double-check these candidates, before hiring them.
Artists and entertainment industry workers tend to huddle up in creative hubs. They often hang out and work at the same cafes, attend the same theatres, etc.
These are good locations to scout and post crew calls at. The bulletin boards are your friend.
It is a great way to get in touch with local talent.
For budgeted films, local film councils are a go-to for producers to find crew members. It’s easier hiring a film crew through councils or unions as laws and expectations are set regarding timelines, payrolls, etc.
Here’s a list of some of the local film commissions in the United States.
Universities or colleges with film programs are a great place to look for fresh talent. Students are looking to build their showreels and portfolios and are willing to work for the experience.
Some film and media programs also require mandatory credits for industry experience or internships. It provides a win-win situation as the students can get the credits and productions can hire talent for free on a long-term basis.
You won’t always be filming in your local area, state, or even country for that matter. To look for a production crew in an international setting it’s best to get in touch with local fixers.
They know the industry and have lots of connections to hook you up with the right talent. Check out worldfixer.com for starters.
Finding and hiring a film crew with minimal to no budget is a daunting task. But there are plenty of ways around it.
It’s vital to learn how to improvise, bargain, network, and be resourceful. These are all soft skills you need to develop as a producer early on to succeed in the industry.