I received an email with the subject line, “I deserve to know the details right?” I’ll be upfront with you: the word “deserve” is a giant red flag, at least when you’re referring to yourself.
It makes me think, “Ugh, this person is going to be a pain.” Even if you’re technically correct, and you do deserve something, the use of the word belies a certain attitude of entitlement.
Of course, I could be completely wrong about the reader who wrote in. Maybe it was just a poor word choice; maybe English isn’t her first language, and she’s unaware of the implications.
Tl;dr: be careful with your word choices in subject lines, if you want someone to read your email.
Speaking of, here’s the actual email–
I got a call a few nights back for a show. They wanted me to work at 6am. When they called/texted they gave me no details about the show.
So, I asked. How long with I be working, How far is the location, Am I gonna get paid, Do you need me more than 1 day cause I have a commitment a day or two from now.
They never called me back. What did I do wrong? Did I do something wrong? I am entitled2 to have DETAILS about the show I am going to work on right?
Right off the bat, if this caller doesn’t know you, it sounds like a pretty unprofessional show. They should at least talk to you on the phone before offering you a gig.
Some of these questions are perfectly legitimate; some of them are poorly phrased (again, be careful with your words); some are things you should never ask.
First things first– if someone offers you a job, you say yes.
Then you ask for details. If you’re not happy with, say, the rate, then you can change your mind. If you start asking questions, don’t worry, somebody else started with a yes, and that person gets the job.
At that point, you can begin asking. Again, phrasing matters– don’t ask if you’re going to get paid; that leaves “no” as an option. Ask instead, “What’s the rate?” That implies there is a rate.
Then ask for the address to the location. Don’t ask how far away it is. First of all, they don’t know where you live; how the hell should they know how far it is for you? Secondly, “How far away is it?” just puts it in a negative light. You’ll get the same information by typing the address into Google maps.
Never, ever ask how long you’re going to be on set, because no one knows. It could be 8 hours, it could be 12. It could even be 16, if your director is an asshole. By asking how long the day will be, this is the image you create–
It’s perfectly okay to ask, “How many days is the shoot?” But leave off the “I have other plans” addendum. Once again, it comes across negatively, like you’re more concerned with your personal life than your job. And once again…
Ultimately, in answer to this reader’s question, it’s not the information she sought that was the problem. It was the way (I imagine) she asked the questions.
For all I know, she’s great to have on set. She could be a hard worker, reliable, personable, all that good stuff. But the email is all I (and the coordinator or AD) have to go on. Whether you’re texting or emailing or talking on the phone, the subtext of everything you say should be, “I will do an amazing job, and I’ll have fun doing it.”
Okay, one more gif–
In other news, the second season of Crew Call is coming. Don’t forget to check out our Kickstarter page!