Viewfinder: Building Your Crew

Even if extra hands are not absolutely essential to complete a project, the video production process offers an amazing opportunity for teamwork and creative collaboration that can add to your enjoyment and improve the end product. Whether you need to assemble a temporary crew for a single production or one that will remain together on an ongoing basis, there are several considerations to keep in mind as you build your production team, and a couple philosophical approaches to take into account. 

The key to leading a successful collaboration is to be a good leader.

man with clipboard shaking hands with a woman

One of the most straightforward starting points to crew selection is to assess the specific needs of the production itself and recruit contributors who possess complementary skillsets. You might look for persons with affinities for writing, shooting, editing or animation to cover those particular aspects of your production. Starting by identifying required skillsets will help you narrow the field and hone in on helpers that have those core competencies. Finding and enlisting skilled helpers can bring its own challenges, however. Experienced crew members typically come with busy schedules and substantial pay rates that make this approach prohibitive in low budget scenarios. An excellent alternative for finding skilled and enthusiastic help without a hefty price tag is to tap into college students. There is no doubt a pool of young talent in your area that is willing to work for a small fee and a credit in a production that they can use to build a demo reel. 

Another approach is to recruit your crew based on attitude and ability to take direction. In many cases you can get what you need by enlisting inexperienced helpers who have the right attitude and are teachable. Many production skills can be taught, and others can be caught. You can teach someone the specific task of holding a boom pole and monitoring audio. You can coach someone to frame up two or three specific recurring shot compositions for a multicamera interview. With training, practice and a bit of instruction, you can coach an unskilled crew to be high-value helpers. 

The key to leading a successful collaboration is to be a good leader. As you add contributors to your crew, you will need to communicate well, give reliable direction and cast a clear vision for each person’s role on the team.

Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.

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