Short film equipment advice....

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by nateo200, Oct 1, 2011.

  1. nateo200 macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    Northern District NY
    #1
    Alright I'm making a short film as a total novice in filming but I'm a fast learner. I will be directing the film as well as shooting the film with my Canon 550D. I have made a list of stuff I already have/stuff I need. I just need some advice so I can make this film very well....So far me and my 4 other guys who will be shooting/putting this together have some unofficial roles to disperse the work. I'm directing, shooting and compiling, and I've got a guy who's good with color grading (He uses a MacBook with Final Cut Pro 9, is their any issues with sharing work flow if I'm using FCP X?) and Ive got a guy who can edit. We will be shooting low light/medium light stuff in an abandoned cement factory (once we get the permits and all our actors set!) but we will be shooting with ISO's <1600 to avoid grainy video and if we need to go higher I'm not too sure about portable lighting....Not sure are lens are fast enough for extreme low light but we could always improvise. The stuff we have combined is:

    -3x Canon 550D/T2i's w/ 3x 18-55mm (F/3.5) lens + a 70-255mm lens (F/4)
    -1x Canon 500D/T1i unknown lens with low F stop (have not seen the guys cam yet)
    -*2 Shot gun mics
    -*1x Boom Rig for DSLR
    -1x Boom rig for shot gun mics
    -Pretty much unlimited tripods of every type
    -1x Homemade DSLR Video stabilizer

    -1x 2010 MacBook Pro loaded with Final Cut Pro X
    -1x 2009 MacBook loaded with Final Cut Pro 9
    -1x Limited Access to 12 Core Mac Pro at school

    *Denotes the fact we have access to it but do not own it so no guarantees

    Anyways the film will have some dialog which concerns me since DSLR audio sucks a big one and none of us have any dedicated audio recording equipment...Will the shotgun mics make up for lack of audio recording stuff? Also if I were to get wireless mics and hook the receiver(s) up to our MacBooks could I use audacity to capture the voices instead of something like the H4n? Is there anything major that I am missing? I have music already and everything I need I think for post processing but I want to make sure the capture is perfect to avoid post processing nightmares like crappy sound/image, etc. Would it be worth it to rent/borrow someones 5D MkII for a day?
     
  2. simsaladimbamba

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    #2
    You can record the audio via the MacBook, but if you have the H4N, use that.
    Btw, there is no Final Cut Pro 9, Final Cut Pro 7 was the latest version before Final Cut Pro X.
    Also know, that projects can't be shared between FCP X and FCP 7 and if you have FCP X 10.0 and FCP X 10.0.1, you can not share the projects between them too, as opening an FCP X 10.0 project in FCP X 10.0.1 will make it unusable in FCP X 10.0. The same would go for FCP 7.0 and 7.0.3, as projects are not backwards compatible. That is one of the major pluses of Avid Media Composer, as I can use a project from MC 5.5 (current version) in a Media Composer version from five or ten years ago, given that the older version supports the video standard used in the current version.

    As for light, do you have access via school to any lighting equipment? Or could you rent?
    Can you test the cameras in similar light or even can get access to the factory beforehand?
    Can you use aluminium foil as reflector? I sometimes did that via spanning some of it onto a big and light surface (carton).
     
  3. nateo200, Oct 1, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011

    nateo200 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #3
    Yeah I meant FCP 7 haha idk why I said 9 :O and we wouldn't be really sharing the project files. My Camera B and Camera C guy would compile all there footage and export in uncompressed or the least lossy format (Apple 444..?..dunno the name) and I would do the same and then when all is said and done we would throw it on an external hard drive and get it on the fastest Mac we can use (Probably an i7 iMac with 8Gigs of RAM or a Mac Pro if i get lucky) and compile it all at once...would that be the best route? My MacBook Pro handles 1080p pretty badly so I think I will use it just for putting the clips together initially....

    For mics hooked to the MacBook(s) what would you suggest? Wireless but just curious what would be the best choice.....and for lighting I don't think my school would let us borrow lighting but we could rent maybe...problem is power sources in this place are extremely unlikely..I have two generators but as you know those are very loud...it might add to the set of the movie but that's one more complexity.

    I attached a sample photo from inside the place....I've never been but the photo was taken from a friend...still waiting to see what kind of glass she used with her T2i but she did stills so exposure times could have been anything...

    EDIT: Could we do voice overs post processing and add them over the raw DSLR audio?
     

    Attached Files:

  4. nateo200 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #4
    Hmm the Zoom H1 looks like the best way to go not to mention easier compared with recording audio live with my MBP...I've only done audio syncing briefly but I read that syncing audio is different for different frame rates....someone mentioned this with the difference of true 30fps and 29.97fps but how does this effect footage shot at 24fps?
     
  5. ppc_michael, Oct 1, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011

    ppc_michael Guest

    ppc_michael

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    #5
    I cringed when I didn't see lighting equipment on your list. I know you said you don't have experience with it, but lighting is really something that can make or break your picture.

    At least try to get some large white foam core or poster board to use as reflectors to fill in shadows in closeups. Also consider some cheap work lights (like this kind of thing) to bounce off walls or ceilings to get the general light up.

    Also, for audio, can you get lavaliers? Like the little clip-on mics that go on people? The way the "pros" tend to record audio in this situation is to hide a (wireless) lavalier on each person and get additional audio from a shotgun/boom.

    Most certainly. In fact, rerecording dialog that didn't come across well is a great habit to get in to.

    There's no difference. The problem you're thinking of is if you, for example, shot video at 30 fps but Final Cut was interpreting it as 29.97 so playing it back just a bit slower. Eventually the audio would fall out of sync because the video was playing back slowly. But as long as the FPS settings are correct you will not have a problem.
     
  6. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

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    #6
    I don't think that anyone has suggested it yet but I have a similar set up to you but I also have the canon 50mm f1.8 which I would highly recommend.

    Being able to shoot at f1.8 is over a stop more of light than f2.8 and more than 2 stops more than f4. In real worlds terms this means that if on the 70-255mm you are shooting at 1/50 you would be able to shoot at 1/200 with the 50mm.

    Where this really comes into it's own is being able to use ISO 400 instead of 1600 (relative to the 70-255mm) which should give you a lot less noise.

    The lens is cheap. Here in the UK it's only £80 and is pretty much stuck on my 600d most of the time.

    You would probably appreciate the extra shallow dof which will give your production that extra cinematic quality that is so sought after now a days.
     
  7. THX1139 macrumors 68000

    THX1139

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    #7
    Make sure you have excellent audio capture or your film will suck. And it's already been mentioned, but make sure your lighting is tight, or your film will suck.

    Finally, I don't think you should direct AND run the camera. Not when you have so many other people to help. You should get someone you trust to be DP (director of photography), and another person to take care of sound. And yet another person to take care of lighting and grip work. If everyone has one main job to take care of, and all you have to worry about is the actors, you should be okay. Run through each scene until you are happy. Then switch camera angles and run through the scene again. Work from the outside in. By the time you get to closeups the actors will be used to saying their lines and there will be fewer mistakes. It will also give you plenty of footage to work with on the edit. Don't forget to shoot cutaways!
     
  8. nateo200, Oct 2, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011

    nateo200 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #8
    Hey guys I really really appreciate you taking the time for the feedback! I've been running around like a loon balancing college, social life, and the film I've been hoping to do for a couple of years and now been seriously planning for the past two and half months or so (very slowly until the past two weeks however :p). Took a few film classes in high school but never realized just how much has to be taken into account and managed for even basic short stuff! Not looking to create yet another YouTube "action film" (Though it will probably end up on YouTube regardless haha).

    If you could just bare with me and my wall of text/questions haha I would really appreciate it since I'm new to the game and for whatever reason can not find someone who's done the sort of thing around here and I like to have allot of support with these types of things.


    -For lighting: Now that I think about it I actually have access to plenty of those work type lighting systems. I think given the film is in an abandoned factory (well thats the PLAN for now, need to get permission first though I work in the community allot so I'm hoping that will persuade them). If you've ever watched the TV show 24 I've been inspired by certain parts of it; more so the parts where Jack (the main character) ends up in some **** hole fighting off bad guys. I will definitely be not just considering the use of those but using them as I want absolute best quality possible and the image is important (duh! :D).
    -For mics/lavaliers: Yes I have two lavalieres but they are of poor quality so I might have to be replacing them. Regardless..how do you hook them up? Do they go into a digital recorder? Since I've been into MILSIM as my friend has to we have some headsets used by military operators (my friend likes to go over the top at times! :D). I'm not sure of the connectors but could these be used as mics and props at the same time?
    -For actual audio recording: If I re-record a session of dialog (I love this idea but I don't want to over use it) should I try and make the voice recording area as isolated as possible as well as similar to the environment of the area I'm patching up?

    -For memory I have a class 10 PNY 8GB card, a Sandisk class 6 4GB card with a minimum write speed of 20MB/s, and a no name brand class 4 SDHC 4GB card which seams to keep up well. Ironically enough the Sandisk class 6 is more reliable than the PNY which likes to buffer out when I get past 7gigs....I know class 10 is the best but Sandisk has never failed me in any use before. Thoughts on this? Will I have enough memory. The 8gig card shoots about 23 minutes while the 4gig cards shoot about 11...I can always dump data but figured I'd still ask...
    Thanks a bunch. I was looking at the Canon 50mm F/1.8 for the longest time. I don't know what it was but I never took the plunge despite having all my photographer friends telling me that they don't leave home without this thing somewhere near their T2i/60D/7D! I will be biting the bullet on the f1.8 lens for sure now that I think about it, that or I will find someone to rent from. Friends father is a professional photographer with from what he told me "allot of Canon lens" so I will see about borrowing from him. He knows I own a 550D, but what is the best way to ask to borrow a lens? I mean some of these lens are very expensive and I wouldn't blame anyone for being hesitant with handing these to an 18 year old :O
    Yeah I'm a true believer of audio being 50% of the film...well maybe 40/60 :p. I've shot some stuff mostly by myself and I'll go look at the image and its beautiful make no mistake but the audio combined with camera shake really kills that "film feel". The only reason I am directing AND running the camera is because there is certain parts of the film that I absolutely must have "my way"...I can't explain it I'm just a visual person and when I imagine a scene in my head its always short bits that come off as "wow" to me. I'm the guy who will rewind an awesome movie scene just to see the awesomeness of it again! Haha.

    But to refresh and explain the roles again I will be directing everything for the most part with my camera guys putting in input since they have some experience with making lots of short YouTube videos (not big stuff however). I'm planning on doing allot if not the majority of the close ups because as I've said I just have this idea for how I want them to look.

    I've got my second camera guy who's got a 550D with a 18-55 and a 70-255 doing the long shots, I'm thinking I should be giving him my stabilizer if he's doing allot of the grunt work. Additionally he's very good with Final Cut Pro 7 color correction which is a major plus so he will be editing with me, assisting when everything is shot and done with as well as helping me organize the mass amount of unorganized clips sorted on our various sizes of SDHC cards from 2GB to 8GB.
     
  9. musique macrumors regular

    musique

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    Apr 10, 2009
    #9
    More thoughts

    A few things come to mind for me because I am finishing a script that I hope to direct in the next few months.

    You don't mention if you've storyboarded your project. I'm starting to do that and every time I go through my vision for a scene it forces me to determine many of the things discussed here:

    Where will the camera be for a shot? How will I light the shot? What are the light sources? Are they daylight or indoor lights? A mixture of the two can be jarring (noticeable) for the audience. Is there enough electricity to power the lights? How hot will it get in the space? Do I need fans to keep the talent cool?

    I know you've mentioned lavalier mics, but will they be wired or wireless? Wireless mics can have interference so check the location for that before shooting day. Wired lavs are not bad, but because they are usually omnidirectional, in a large space they can pick up the echoes of the room. Can you boom your scene? If so, you might want a hypercardioid mic rather than a shotgun. Do you have a boom and an operator? Where will s/he be standing to capture the audio? Will your camera be in a location to avoid seeing a boom shadow?

    If you do use lav mics, plan out your audio set-ups so that you don't (a) waste time moving the lav from one actor to another and (b) don't pick up clothing noise from the mics. Perhaps you can dedicate one audio person to wire the talent properly and monitor mic levels if you plan to use more than one mic in a shot.

    Once you get into multicamera work (AFAIK editing this is something not easy to do in FCP X) you really need to know where each camera will be in your action sequences. You don't want to ruin a good shot with things that shouldn't be there (like a second cameraperson, cabling, stands, etc).

    You mention 24 so will there be fight sequences? If so, you will need to have those rehearsed well ahead of the shoot. And, not just the talent, but your camera operators as well as your crew need to know where to set up for each sequence of the fight(s). Fights require lots of edits to look exciting so plan those out along with the action well ahead of shoot day.

    Good luck with your project.
     
  10. nateo200, Oct 2, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011

    nateo200 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #10
    Read bold. Sorry for the grammar rape and spelling, sort of in a rush but will edit later.
     
  11. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 6, 2007
    #11
    You'll keep finding more and more.

    You need a gameplan along the lines of getting all of the mechanics of "filming" planned out and practised before shoot day, so that on the day you're just concentrating on your actors' performances and that it's coming together as a lucid story. Go to the location and plan everything out. Then do a full run-through. Then re-plan based on what's gone wrong or didn't work.

    And rehearse with your actors, obviously.

    If you put up a work light in a room with daylight streaming through the windows, it'll look like you've put up a work light. It'll be the wrong colour, intensity and hardness. Convincing lighting is tricky and can really eat up your time on set, so I'd stick to bounce boards unless you really need lights for exposure.

    Or even a cardioid. That room looks too echoey for a shotgun.

    I've stopped watching stuff I'm interested in because the clipped audio was so irritating.

    Also:

    If you go too low with your f-stop you'll find it hard to keep things in focus. Please don't make it one of those films.

    And batteries. Your set stops when your batteries run out of juice.

    What are you planning on using the Zoom H1 for? It's not right for what I'm imagining you doing.
     
  12. nateo200 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #12
    Bold again!
    More photo's as attachments below...it seams pretty open...how would an 18-55 run at 800 ISO completely zoomed in at f5.6? I'm going to find some similar lighted areas in my house and test it. Still looking at the f1.8 though...
     

    Attached Files:

  13. jetjaguar macrumors 68030

    jetjaguar

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    #13

    I would definitely try and maybe rent a prime or two. Those zooms are very slow and at 5.6 you are going to need a lot of light. You can probably rent two primes for not a lot of money either at your local camera place or online. You don't have to use the 50 at 1.8 you could run it at 2.8 and it will still handle the low light well. You are just going to have to set up your shots because of how shallow the depth of field can be. As for audio .. you could also rent a H4N.. my local camera place rents it for like 18$ for the weekend
     
  14. nateo200 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #14
    Suggestions on primes to rent? I'd like to keep the quality of the lens good but not get crazy with the quality that the price rises. I'll look into renting an H4n among lens, lighting, etc. I feel like allot of people have different views on the audio though...
     
  15. cgbier macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Assuming you shoot with a "full frame" sensor, look into the old photography standard: 28, 50, 100mm.
     
  16. jetjaguar macrumors 68030

    jetjaguar

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    #16
    i think using an h4n would be the best move .. it has 2 xlr ports so you could plug in wireless lavs or a boom .. as well as the 2 mics up front and just use your camera audio to sync in post using plural eyes .. plural eyes does not work with FCPX yet though .. i think just premier, fcp 7 and avid

    since you said you are using t2is .. i would get a 24 or 35 .. 50 and a 85 and if you need really wide you could get a tokina 11-16

    remember that a 50mm on your pas-c camera will be an 80-85mm .. so you need to see how wide you are going to need and go from there ... maybe do some tests with the zooms you have and see what focal lengths you are going to use and then rent the primes at those lengths

    using primes will allow you to shoot in lower light without having to crank the ISO into ranges that will add a lot of noise. Unless you are going to really light the place up .. then it won't really matter
     
  17. cgbier macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    FCP X renders Plural Eyes obsolete. FCP X' synch function works perfectly.
     
  18. ppc_michael, Oct 2, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011

    ppc_michael Guest

    ppc_michael

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    #18
    Yes, they would go in to some kind of recorder or mixer. Depends on the type of connector. If they're XLR they'll need to go in to a recorder, or if they're TRS (like a jack) they could maybe plug in to your camera or Macbook or whatever. It depends on your final setup.

    ADR (automated dialog replacement, which is the term for rerecording dialog in this way) is an art in itself, and you ask a good question. You need to strike a balance between good clean sound, but also not something that sounds dubbed. Often what I do is, if there are lines I know we didn't get, after filming a scene I'll ask for everyone to be quiet and have the actors run through their lines without walking around, etc. So we get cleaner audio in the location with the right atmosphere with the same microphones.

    Otherwise I'll record it clean in a studio with one of the mics we used at the shoot and match the atmosphere in post (with parametric equalizers, reverb, etc). But that takes a looot of effort to match and can be hit or miss.

    --

    You know, since you're at a university, I'm sure if you asked the film club there for an audio guy or DP or anything they would jump at the opportunity. They wouldn't likely be pros at this stuff (where I went, they barely taught anything at all about audio), but I'm sure they would be able to give you some really good advice and might bring along better equipment!
     
  19. nateo200 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #19
    Planning on doing half and half. Too much light might take away from the look no matter how much color correction we do post processing

     
  20. jetjaguar macrumors 68030

    jetjaguar

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    #20
    ahhh ok .. thats good to know .. haven't really messed around in FcpX yet

    ----------

    the 17-55 2.8 zoom wouldn't be bad .. though still not as fast as primes but for versatility it should be good
     
  21. ppc_michael, Oct 2, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011

    ppc_michael Guest

    ppc_michael

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    #21
    Man, I love film and shoot it every chance I get. However you probably do not want to deal with film right now. :) It typically needs a lot of light. The highest speed film that I would consider acceptable for HD would be Kodak's Vision 3 500T (ASA/ISO is 500) and even then at Super 16mm it's really quite grainy at 1080p and probably wouldn't mix well with your (hopefully not noisy) digital stuff. Also those ARRIs can be loud as heck, giving you more sound problems.
     
  22. nateo200 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #22
    One major issue I think is almost inevitable with the current computer set ups we have is just raw power....editing a single camera 15 minutes video of 1080p has just been hammering my CPU and RAM lately....would upping my RAM to 8gigs dramatically increase multitasking and just general editing in Final Cut Pro X? I mean I open Final Cut Pro X and the program starts taking 1.8gigs of my RAM without me even starting the export and drops down to 1.5 when everything is done transcoding/importing....I'm usually left with like 20megs of free RAM and that's after force closing EVERYTHING else...Regardless I'm planning on using an iMac i7 Quad core or something more like I've said I just need to make my work flow that I will inevitably have to compile on my MacBook Pro less painful :/


    I did a practice sync of audio just dragging the separate voice file in and it synced pretty good without much effort...that said doing that for a whole short film isn't going to be fun! Oh well I think I've got people for that!

    I think I'll stick with the primes then...

    Hmm yeah I was thinking the Super 16 would be cool to be say "Yeah I shot this with a Super 16" :cool::rolleyes::roll eyes: but a pain to process into digital.
     
  23. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

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    #23
    I am really enjoying this thread and all the great knowledge that is being shared it's being very useful for a short project that I am shooting soon.

    nateo200 any chance you could post some scans of your storyboards/pre-prod pack so we can have a chance to have some input and see how you have done it?

    This would also be cool to see what you planned the shot to look like and how it eventually turned out.

    What is the schedule like on this project, when are you filming?
     
  24. smokescreen76 macrumors member

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    #24
    If this is your first film (or at least your first ambitious film) and you really want it to look the best it can - something you can be proud of and something getting close to the Hollywood films you obviously aspire to - then I would say one thing...

    KEEP IT SIMPLE!!

    - Keep the duration short (it's better to make a great 5 minute film than a terrible 30 minute film).
    - Just because you have multiple cameras doesn't mean you have to use them all. In fact I would shoot on just one camera. Only go to two or more camera's for a complex "stunt" shot.
    - Assign roles for your crew - a DoP, a camera operator, a sound recordist, etc. And one director. And this person is not the camera operator. The director needs to be able to keep an overview of everything - it's not down to them to know what ISO level the camera is on for each shot.


    I recently shot a "Bourne Identity"-style short and even the most simple of things can quickly become a logistical nightmare. Just filming two people walking down the street caused us problems.
     
  25. nateo200 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #25
    Yeah I'll definitely be posting the story board as soon as I organize it. The guys over at cinema5D brought up a solid point about organizing the plan between story, artistic stuff and purely tech stuff:
    http://www.cinema5d.com/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=35122&p=207621#p207621 I like their critiquing and experience too!

    I'm planning on keeping it to 10 minutes 15 at max. We'll see though...I mean I'm going to keep the time frame in mind and shave off footage accordingly but I'll be shaving off stuff with the quality of the movie in mind not the time frame. I put the guidelines for the shooting settings up, I made a Facebook group so all the camera guys should KNOW by now that I want such and such settings so I won't have to say it 1000 times on shooting day. 3 camera guys is for the action scenes, specifically now the hand to hand stuff since I have a guy who has allot of marshal arts experience. The concept isn't over complex, I am still going over various ideas but by no means using all of these ideas. I think the simplicity will allow me to create a "mystery" feel to the characters and make sure I don't burn out all my ideas in my first film...

    As for assigning roles...I keep reassigning as I gain new guys. I've got my camera guys (3), one is doubling as the color corrections guy since he knows that stuff as well as editing, and the other is good with 3D stuff but I don't think we will need that. I have a guy coordinating all the tactical maneuvers and wardrobe stuff, I have a guy in charge of marshal arts and stunt work, and I keep finding more and more help.

    The biggest thing though is all these guys ability to lead and communicate properly. Some of them are GREAT with what they know but bad at communicating so half the time I am translating what the wardrobe guy is trying to say to the actors and the camera guy while trying to prevent the marshal arts guy from offending anyone with his enthusiasm! One guy commented after I recruited a local drama actor and said "No, I don't like that kid." and I told him that we don't have time for his personal grudges and when he rolled his eyes I had to basically pull rank and say I'm the director your my assistant for a reason. Any advise on keeping everyone happy or decent at least? I swear I should get someone to counsel out personal crap...I guess you have to deal with that stuff though....
     

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