10 Engagement Tips I learned from the Film Industry
Group dynamics in the Film Industry are challenging and I learned a lot about communication there.
I realize that there is no magic formula to engagement. Its has a lot to do with finding the right match in your community and your content. But what if you are still not getting the results? Maybe its time to go back to the basics of rapport building.
I remembered back to my 15 years in film where you made friends fast to survive the chaos, long hours and constant stress. Here were my best survival tips.
1) If you take on jobs people should be doing for themselves – ie: highlighting an actors call time on their schedule- then you train people to stop engaging their minds. Don’t do this.
ENGAGEMENT TIP: Don’t condescend.
2) If I tell someone in the wrong, they are in the wrong in front of a peer sometimes they get defensive sometimes, offensive but never direct the energy to the right concern (in film the perception of wrong can get you kicked off a set.)
ENGAGEMENT TIP: Know when to use private message services.
3) If the job sucks (like carrying the actors chair for them, generations of properties assistants remember this one) and you agree to take it on the group will think you will always handle it so – few seasoned pros volunteer to do the jobs that could suck later.
ENGAGEMENT TIP: Encourage everyone to take part.
4) Everyone has gifts to share and wants the opportunity to shine. Sometimes letting people take charge of tasks that you could do easily, faster and as part of your routine is the best way to engage them. I learned this one assigning tasks to newbie locations Production Assistants.
ENGAGEMENT TIP: Respectfully value all contributions.
5) There is no right way- just shades of right. Sometimes doing one task with conviction is perfect. Many departments have a “show and tell” that helps decision makers choose designs from a small selection of possibilities. We generally limited selections to three options, even if two sucked slightly more then the one we liked.
ENGAGEMENT TIP: Be selective in what you share and know why you are sharing.
6) Buying a coffee (or equally small act of goodwill) for the “scary one” in the group. Before you needed their help-or come to blows with them, is the best investment in cooperation. Sometimes it was the lighting department ass**%# who you knew you would need to ask a favor of one day, sometimes it was THAT sleep deprived Teamster, yes you know the one.
ENGAGEMENT TIP: Look ahead for potential challenges and create your own public relation strategy.
7) If you do come to blows with someone chances are it’s the heat of stress and both of you are looking for an opportunity to be – the good guy. Humor works great. In my case, I suck at humor so as a result, I never spoke with that Gennie operator again/ or worked with that producer who hired us.
ENGAGEMENT TIP: Find the humor in it.
8 ) It sucks to be the only one that seems to care, and as soon as it sucks it’s your responsibility take a step back and ask yourself what action you have control over . You will never change others actions only breed resentment for trying. On my 1st Robin Williams movie I should have quit - but I love and will always love Robin Williams-sweetest man ever, but I digress.
ENGAGEMENT TIP: There are alot of options, choose the one right for you and everyone will be happier.
9) Doing something that’s not part of your – agreed upon- job even if it is meant to help in goodwill can be perceived as “stepping on someone’s toes” or as the Sound Producer on a TV show I was volunteering informed me one day. I was hurt and embarrassed as this was never my intent.
ENGAGEMENT TIP: Know the rules you are breaking before you decide to break them.
10) Not everybody cares, and that’s ok.
ENGAGEMENT TIP: Not everybody cares, and that’s ok.
The key take home on set, at work or managing your online community is to remember that even if you can’t see them, your community is built by humans with varied opinions, morals, objectives. Respecting these breeds influence.