Haste Makes Movies
For as much as I love my job, and as much as I like to talk about it, I've gotten to the point that I don't like to talk about my work with anyone that might want to sell me something. The world at large seems to think that Hollywood is an infinite well of dollars, overflowing with cash. While we're known for some extravagances, a movie is not simply a money spigot. I can't have a conversation in a bar anymore without someone accosting me about either how to get a job, which I've covered before, or how they can they hock their particular product or service to the productions in town.
They're not wrong to do this; doing business with a film production can be very lucrative. I know a number of businesses that truly took off once they began to work with film and television productions. Be warned though, we're a hard nut to crack. Most local companies just don't have a head for how we conduct ourselves. Certain vendors just know how to play the game our way and, most of the time, those are the vendors we go with, whether or not they're the cheapest or the nicest .
All of that said, I have only two pieces of advice if you want to do business with the movie industry: be fast and be available.
Some industries have ingrained turn-around times: by close of business, twenty-four hours, three to five business days. Not with us. Call me back in the next five minutes. You need to have fast call backs. You need to have same-day service. You need to be able to deliver quotes, invoices and other documentation as soon as they are asked for. You need to be able to fix problems as quickly as they arise. We're on a mission, not a campaign and everything needs to be done right now. If I have to wait for something, more likely than not, that means that the whole show is waiting for something. Much like how we're up shit creek if certain people oversleep, we're just as bothered if I can't know in ten minutes if a certain piece of equipment, a certain location, a certain bit of documentation is available.
More often than not, it's the vendor that meets our time scales that gets our business. And, our time scale is almost always right fucking now.
Additionally, we work all hours and we need our vendors to be available at those hours. All of the professional class rental houses, all of the entertainment-centric travel agencies, all of my clearing houses, facilities managers, processing labs and freight companies have after-hours numbers where I can reach an actual person, usually, someone I know by name.
It happens on every show that I get a phone call in the middle of the night saying that the weather has turned south, that an actor has gotten ill or, sickeningly, some other vendor dropped the ball, and we can't do tomorrow's work as planned. Everything needs to be rearranged by six am; can I get the right kind of camera mount, the right kind of vehicle, the right kind of expertise in place in the next few hours?
That's pretty much it. Whether you're trying to get my show to rent your dumpsters, buy your expendables or use your underwater welding services,* be fast, five minutes fast, have all the information at your fingertips, and be available 'round the clock. Do these things you've already got a big leg up on just about everybody else that isn't already a movie specific company.
To people like me, the most hateful words in the world are "Three to five business days."
*Yes, I've had to hire an underwater welder. That was a fun show that presented some unique challenges.