The Great Crew Hunt – Measuring Talent and Passion for an Orgy of Excellence


“There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.”  Marshall McLuhan

Hiring people to be part of a passion project is daunting to say the least. The reality is some people are simply looking for that next check for those next hours of work and you need to week those people out as quickly as you can so you can focus on those who really want to be an active part of something and are willing to put in the blood, sweat, tears, effort and hours to make what they are part of the very best it can be. I went through a similar process with casting and it seems to of paid off so far so hopefully I have as much success when it comes to the crew.

The reality of the movie business is that most films don’t make a profit, which is why major studios focus on tent pole releases (like comic book adaptions) and avoid pushing the envelope too much to avoid offending anyone. In the horror genre that can create a lot of real boring movies. Horror traditionally at it’s very best was more art, in fact more outsider art than commerce so to make a great horror movie you typically have to avoid some of the business knowledge about movies themselves and take bigger chances and risk showing something different. Since there is a substantial added risk to an already risky venture you attempt to somewhat mitigate that risk by controlling costs as much as possible thus allowing you to justify eating that giant risk sandwich knowing that your exposure is being kept in check.

What that paragraph above means from a practical perspective is you simply aren’t going to be able to pay people anywhere near market rates to work on your project and you are going to need with a smaller crew so you need to find people for whom the project carries a greater value than dollars and whose nature is to jump in and lend a hand where it is needed regardless of what their job title is. Ideally you are looking for people who want both the experience (so they value the opportunity itself) and have a passion for the project itself (which is what will motivate them to do more and give more and make the end product more).

So the first thing I look for in potential crew is talent and passion. Talent lets me know you can do the job and passion lets me know you want to do the job. I want people around me who say we can make things better by… (seriously there are few phrases that get me excited quicker). For me this is clearly a passion project and I want those around me to feed off my passion as I feed off theirs in one big giant orgy of excellence. Obviously first the talent needs to be there but the passion is as important. The third criteria for me is attitude – is this the type of person I want to get in the mud with? If all three of those criteria are met then I usually want to hire that person. I am not a big believer in formal education so I don’t put much weight on that and I am not all that big on reviewing resumes since resumes only say what you did not what you are going to do.

So as far as crew what are we looking for? Well we have a production manager coming on board who meets all those criteria, great attitude, passion for the project and a ton of talent that compliments me extremely well. Going forward we will be looking for makeup and hair (preferring one person to handle it all), location scouts, sound person, light person and a cameraperson as well as music contributors. Being such a small crew people need to be okay with crossing job descriptions and jumping in where and when needed to make the project work. They also need to be able to work quick as well as willing to put in long hours. The upside is they get to have an active say in the project, they will have much greater latitude and input then they would typically get and will really have the chance to show what they can do. Additionally all members of the crew will participate in the financial upside of the film, meaning if the movie is a success financially they will share in that success. We will be paying crew but there is no way we can approach market rates so the opportunity has to carry a high value to the crewmembers. So if the opportunity to work of a real horror film which includes the fine tradition of social commentary excites the hell out of you and you have a talent in one of the areas we are looking for and getting a credit beyond what you have gotten so far would wet your whistle and you are open to working in either Southern California or Phoenix Arizona then email me at dan@abiproductions.com cause we need to talk.

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