I’m shooting my film in about a month, and I’ve noticed a radical shift in my team’s mindset, lately. We have been planning this for several months, now, but I always found they didn’t really connect with my goals. My personal approach was to think in abstract terms : to not set any shooting dates, to prepare as many things as we could (find accessories, locations, recruit the team, …), and once everything is pretty much ready to be shot, commit to some dates for the shooting. I find this approach less risky, because we would only commit once we are almost sure to be ready, but I think the team members didn’t see the shooting as a concrete thing on the horizon, and worked at idling speed. I would complain to myself that I was never receiving messages from a team member who took the initiative to do something unexpected, and I would have to follow-up with each of them several times to get anything done.
My reaction to this was that I couldn’t force their hands, so I would work twice as much myself, hoping to be ready to shoot anyway. This would obviously exhaust me, and it didn’t move the needle.
Now that we have set some dates and that the deadline is getting closer, everybody gets moving, and I’m receiving all these unexpected emails of people who handled things I didn’t even think about. I’m realizing just now how unrealistic my reaction was : even when I was working twice as hard, I wasn’t coming close to what the team is accomplishing these days. It’s way better to have a full team of people focused and sharing the same dream, each with their own skills and sensibilities, rather than trying to do it all by myself.
I still find my approach to be the one that suits me, but when I see the difference it makes with the team to listen to what they need and give them an concrete deadline, I realize it’s much more powerful to proceed that way. To the opposite of what I was doing until now, I even feel like I would be most useful doing nothing but making sure that everyone sees the same thing and that the whole team walk hand in hand in the same direction. Looking at the work they are now able to accomplish, I feel more valuable as a maestro than as another crew member.
I’m simply tapping into what the team needs to work. I hope one day I might nudge the team into another direction than what they intuitively want to create a more intentional work environment, but I’m glad to learn these things along the way.