Service with a Smile

Everyone knows that it takes money to make a movie and money to pay the bills. If the bills aren't paid, it becomes even more difficult to get a movie completed. With that in mind, I find myself at my day job. I work in the IT department of a small, private college in the Twin Cities area. I answer the phone, I field questions and requests, and sometimes when I'm sitting in front of a phone that isn't ringing. . . I find time to read a book. The book that was available to me today was Delivering Knock Your Socks of Service [Revised Edition, 1998 and now in it's 4th Edition].

"It's a must-have tool for everyone in customer service!"

--SUCCESS Magazine

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, "I'm working behind the camera so I don't have to deal with people" or "I could NEVER work in customer relations". Those statements may very well be true, but I'd like to encourage you to take on the attitude that is "knock your socks off service."

Hollywood is known for its cold, albeit sexy, shoulder. Regardless of whether your dream is working in Hollywood or making a poignant social commentary (I'm sure you know what Mike I'm talking about), the glue that will make your ideas stick is positive relations with people you cross paths with.

The image of the rude, total diva director (in my mind) has to be a myth. Of course I know of film students who function in this way. My hypothesis is that those are the next great waiters and waitresses of our generation.

Tom Peters, Management guru, says:

"Customers perceive service in their own unique, idiosyncratic, emotional, irrational, end-of-the-day, and totally human terms. Perception is all there is!"

This statement rings true in my mind.

When a crew assembles, try to imagine in your mind how your co-crewmembers might perceive you. They will probably perceive you as a human being and judge you based on how much experience they perceive you have. This does not mean that you should blow your own horn and pad your verbal resume (e.g. "This is a much smaller production than I'm used to working on" or "this director has no direction, unlike all of the other directors I've worked with over the years…"). Honesty gains trust.

"Researchers consistently find that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep one you already have."

When assembling a crew, sometimes there are only one or two people to choose from. This can be frustrating on small, independent productions, but it is important to keep the crew together.

Imagine this horror: the Director of Photography is fed up in dealing with a storm of egos and walks off the set. It will take five times more (energy, money, love, emotion, waffles, donuts, coffee, bananas, etc) to attract a new D.P.

When the shoot is finally done and another "baby" comes out of (p)reproduction, do you really want to assemble an entirely new crew?

Can't we all just get along?

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Friends Get Films Made

Recall for a second the story of Damon and Pythias from Greek mythology. According to a Greek legend: when Pythias was sentenced to be executed Damon took his place to allow Pythias to get his affairs in order; when Pythias returned in time to save Damon the king was so impressed that
he let them both live.

NO, I'm not trying to make paint a grand metaphor where the Producer is King, Director is Pythias, and the Assistant Director/s is/are Damon. That's not the point (and I cannot stand working with those snobs... unless said snob has notable honors and/or deep pockets).

The point is this, when you are working on a film with friends the moviemaking process becomes movie magic. Everything seems to come together faster and the results are more pleasing to everyone involved. The viewer can tell if friends worked together to create a film. Friends fall in love with the story together.

So, find your friends a make a movie this summer!

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