Q: How do you interview an AD?

September 6, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Mail Bag

Q:  How do you interview an AD?  How do you know he/she is worth the chance as so much is riding on his/her capability to handle chaos and remain calm?

Jake H.  Wahoo Nebraska

It’s interesting because I just did a consultation with one of my students at NYFA the other day about how to choose the right DP for their shoot.  So, I am going to make this a general how to interview someone post because I feel that each role on the set is important.  Yes, the AD is a super high pressure job and it may seem more important that you get the right AD than getting the right grip or PA, but the truth of the matter is, one person that does not fit within the team could equal disaster for a production.

The key is to know how the producer and director work.  So much of being good at these two jobs in particular, is knowing who you are as a person.  You need to know this so that you can fill in the holes and make sure to get a balanced crew.  You must know what each crew members job in general is so that you can ask for a sample schedule and ask how long it takes them to do a schedule, but the most important question is…how do you like to work.  If you know that you like to have a meeting right before the shoot, then after lunch, then at the end of the day and the person you’re interviewing really doesn’t find it necessary and in fact thinks it’s stupid, then they are probably not the right person for you to work with.  The thing is, there is not right or wrong way to do the things it takes to make a movie (as long as you’re being ethical) so it’s not a “bad” thing for you to hire people that work the way you do.  If you like to laugh and have a lot of fun on set and you are interviewing an AD or DP or anyone for that matter who is sitting across the table from you for like 20 minutes and hasn’t cracked a smile, do you think this person is a good fit for your production?  They may be super qualified and really good at their job, but you are going to have to spend a lot of time with them so they may not be the right fit.

If you’re the producer and you know that your director is very internal with his process, it’s probably not a good idea to hire an AD that is an introvert.  On the flip side, you know your director is very A.D.D., be honest (and respectful of the director) when you are talking to the AD and tell them what the director is like and ask them how they would handle that.  Part of your job as a producer is to be able to see who will work well together and who won’t.

One particular thing to remember when interviewing an AD though, is that their job can be VERY stressful, so make sure that they have a calm demeanor and that they are respectful enough to ask the crew how long it will take to set the shot and that they trust the crew to do their job, but can get them to work efficiently.  Above all, TRUST is the word you need to remember when hiring key crew members.  Do you trust them to do the job well?  Do they trust you to do yours?  Do they trust the crew to do theirs?

It can be a tricky process.  One last thing I will say on this and it’s a really hard one for new producers and that is, you may have to fire someone.  It’s OK as long as it’s because the project or the crew is suffering because this person is on the project.  It’s really not a personal thing or an ego thing so make sure that you remember that.  One bad apple on set can poison the entire shoot so you’ve got to be able to do what it takes to make sure the process is smooth.

Comments

2 Comments on "Q: How do you interview an AD?"

  1. Brian McQuery on Tue, 6th Sep 2011 9:03 am 

    Most indie productions do not fire people who are clearly not capable of doing their job. They feel like they have to keep them on and put up with it. Firing people is not fun, nor is it something to be done lightly, but when someone clearly cannot do their job, they have to go so that the production does not suffer. I worked on a picture where the DP and his entire camera, grip and electric crew were fired after one week. Things improved dramatically with the new crew.

  2. cindy on Wed, 14th Sep 2011 11:18 am 

    Yes, I’ve noticed this, too! One bad apple can spoil the bunch and you don’t want a bunch of spoiled crew members running around trying to make a movie.

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