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You Don’t Have to be a Jerk

I’m traveling today (long story), so I don’t have time to write a post. Instead, here’s a copypasta from a comment left on a really old post yesterday:

So, as a production manager and line producer, I can say, from personal experience, being an asshole is simply a crap choice the ADs, Producers, or UPMs  make simply because they’re underskilled in managing their work. There is just no other reason.

On every film, people ef up horribly. Often, it can affect an entire day’s shoot, costing tens of thousands of dollars, but that is extremely rare; less than 1/10th of 1 percent among 200 films worked.

Unfortunately, our industry is rife with people in positions that require no talent or education and are groomed by dicks and jerks, women and men, to manage something they barely understand. Most department staff suffer the fool’s pride as a cost.

Karma doesn’t do them justice, so my advice is build a tough shell, try to out distance them with your work, and once burned, try not to ever work for them again. That is, unless you like being surrounded by assholes.

I hope every AD out there reads and takes this to heart.

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2 Responses

  1. Here’s how I understand it. ADs (and a lot of people in meat n’ potatoes production) aren’t really good at anything. They can show up on time. They can take inventory of things. They can answer emails. They are like anybody else. So, why are they assholes? Because they make X amount of money and they bought a car, house, got married, had children, sent those children to school, etc. They thought this was their big career break so they went all in on ‘cliche’ adult things. Now they have to scramble to make ends meet every month and/or year.

    You, as a production assistant, someone freewheelin’ in their 20s, don’t have all that shit hanging over your head. So there is a giant disconnect in how serious you take everything. That’s the friction and eventually, we’re all just doomed to become like theme. Because if you stick to it, you’ll make a little more money. get comfortable and start that whole family/house process.

    The person telling you to do something isn’t being a dick. It’s the giant financial shadow hanging over them. Remember that.

    1. There’s a lot of truth in what you say, but it’s not the whole truth. During my 38 years working on all kinds of productions, I’ve met plenty of jerks among above-the-line, production, and below-the-line crew — but I’ve also met many more really good people. The pressure of trying to carve out a decent life while working in such a demanding industry affects different people in different ways, and brings out the worst in certain individuals. Those who are going through hard times — for whatever reason — at home can lose their sense of humor and become testy on the job, but that’s different from being a true asshole, and usually passes with time.

      But some people are just born assholes, and end up working in the film and television industry, where bad behavior is all too often rewarded. If you get stuck working for one of them, all you can do is quit (seldom a good idea unless you’re suffering terrible abuse on the job) or gut it out, then make sure to never work for that person again.

      If that happens to you, remember the experience — and make a vow that you’ll never become one of those abusive industry assholes.

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