Why Not A Sane Approach to a Stressful Job?
A few months ago I was the lighting designer for the Glen Beck Program while Blaze TV was shooting off site in Los Angeles. I had been thinking about writing a blog about how I lit radio for television (haha), but I realized that with every design and every gig we learn something… and that’s not the lesson I walked away with.
My take away from this show was a reminder of how much confidence in your team and a calm demeanor is huge part of the professionalism we need most on a job site.
In an industry where 4am calls, long days, and high stress can be considered the norm, we’ve all had THAT gig or a maybe even a series of them. The gig where mistrust seems to be the rule, blame has been thrown around, departments are at each other’s throats, it feels like SOMEONE is going to take the fall, and people are frustrated and angry. This was not that gig.
This gig was a breath of fresh air in a desert.
We shot in a small room without standard theatrical power for the lighting. The ceilings were maybe 9’ tall. No lighting grid. There were a few things we’d have to figure out at load-in: actual location of the talent, where cameras were going to fit, and how to pretty up the background. I put together a small package that I thought could handle all of those things, and allow me to roll with the punches.
I had a team I knew I could trust, gaffer Jeff Porter and electrician and John Griffin from Olesen Theatrical Lighting. When it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to stay for all shooting days, I knew that Mr. Porter could babysit the setup and handle any major emergencies for the client without me.
It didn’t stop there! A good lighting package and a business like lighting crew is not all you need for a good shoot. The friendly, calm, competent attitude started at the top, from our producer, who either simply had faith in his team from the first moment (despite never having worked with me before) or who hid his worries very well. (I think the former.) A director who was able to convey his requests clearly and give constructive feedback. All departments worked together smoothly, we all did our work like the professionals that we are, we all rolled with changes, and the stress levels remained low.
The shoot went well. It went well without the drama, yelling, snapping at each other, and angst.
Can it be that easy? Trust and professionalism from the top + courtesy between all departments + a great crew…and all of us doing our work to the best of our abilities.
Why don’t we always do it like this? I’d do this one again every week, 4am call and all.
Note: The lighting looked great and so did the talent.