Top 6 Questions to Ask Your Production Crew Before Booking

Apr 14, 2020

There’s a lot to consider when you’re booking a production crew for your project.

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There’s a lot to consider when you’re booking a production crew for your project.

At the top of the list are their experience and background. Do they have a history of working on similar projects? Are they familiar with the equipment you plan to use for the production?

This info is crucial. The last thing you want is an inexperienced crew member or someone who doesn’t have the right skill set.

Aside from technical chops, we like to find out if the crew member knows our venue, and if they know other members of our production team. While this doesn’t preclude someone from being booked, they are still valuable questions to ask upfront.

Here’s our list of the top 6 questions to ask your production crew before booking.

#1. Has your crew member worked on similar events or formats?

Not all productions are created equal. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your format and look for crew members who have experience working on that format.

Keep it simple. If you’re planning to shoot a live concert, ask your camera ops if they’ve shot live concerts and festivals.

#2. Does your production crew have the right skill sets?

This may sound similar to question 1, but there’s a unique distinction.

Let’s say you’re assembling a production crew to shoot a live music festival. Obviously, you want to book camera operators who have shot live music.

Now, let’s assume you’ve found 5 camera operators who have extensive experience shooting live music and who come highly recommended. Great. But you still need to drill down further.

Let’s say with your 5 camera positions, you’re planning on 3 hard cameras, 1 jib crane, and 1 handheld camera. That means 3 of your camera operators need to have experience shooting hard camera for live concerts. And 1 of your camera operators needs to have experience shooting handheld for live music festivals.

Make sure you have a clear understanding of the technical requirements of each and every position. And look for crew members who have that experience.

#3. Has your production crew used your technical equipment?

Be sure your technical team has hands-on experience using the production equipment you plan to provide. production crew

Ask your A1 if they’ve mixed on the same console that you’re planning to provide.

Make sure your TD has used the switcher that will be on-site.

This generally only applies to remote productions or studio productions, but may also be applicable if you’re renting outside equipment for your project.

That’s not to say that a capable crew member can’t learn to use new equipment. But ensuring that they’re familiar with the equipment in advance will mitigate any “user errors” once on-site.

#4. Has your production crew worked at your venue?

To be honest, this isn’t a deal-breaker.

Someone’s prior knowledge of your production venue won’t prohibit them from executing the job they were hired to do.

But, if you’re working in a large arena, it might be helpful to hire a Production Assistant who has worked at that venue in the past. That way they come to the table already knowing the lay of the land and don’t have to spend time figuring it out on-location.

#5. Has your production crew worked with other members of your team?

When you’re booking technical personnel for your production project, you’re not filling individual roles. You’re assembling a team.

And the best teams are those that know each other, respect each other and work well together.

Again, this isn’t a deal-breaker, but we’ve found that booking a production crew who knows each other makes the project run smoother.

#6. What is your day rate?

When you book a contractor for your production, you’re paying them for their expertise, knowledge, and technical ability to fulfill a specific role.

We believe that everyone should be paid fairly, based on the market rate for their position.

With that said, it’s important to verify everyone’s day rate once you’ve confirmed that they have the necessary experience and skills for your production. Don’t make assumptions based on what you’ve paid in the past or what you’ve paid in other markets.

Let’s quickly recap our top 6 questions:

  1. Have you worked on similar events?
  2. Do you have experience working in this specific role?
  3. Have you used [insert production equipment] on prior jobs?
  4. Have you worked at [insert venue] in the past?
  5. Do you know [insert crew member name]? He/she will be filling the role of [insert role].
  6. What is your day rate?

Finding the right production crew can sometimes be a challenge. But coming to the table with the right questions will help you narrow down your search and find the right candidates for your production.

If you’re looking for further assistance with crewing, our production staffing team is here to help. Contact us any time.

No Comments
  • Andrew Ryback Reply
    2018-03-07 21:55:41

    We're glad you found this to be useful, Margaux. Let us know if there's anything we can help with.

  • Margaux Ford Reply
    2018-03-07 05:57:06

    I appreciate the tips on hiring a production staffing company to have more time to focus on the creative aspects of the project. Hiring a production crew is a tedious task, and can take up much of your time. We're currently working on a huge production, and I'll share this article with my boss so he'll consider on delegating the recruitment to a staffing company. I like that you mentioned that staffing company can ensure to have the right team onboard for the project. Thanks!

  • Robert McWilliams Reply
    2017-10-31 19:05:18

    Todd:I have an ad agency in addition to our production company. We put one of our clients on OTT two months ago up in Nevada. Seems to be working!Thanks again for the work earlier this month.Rob

  • Nicole Rohde Reply
    2017-05-27 22:28:45

    Hey Andrew, Any word as to whether or not the Jokers will be back for Comic Con this year? Please let me know. Thanks!!!

  • Aaron Estabrook Reply
    2017-02-23 16:26:57

    I'll be tuning in for sure!

  • David Patton Reply
    2015-01-16 13:16:02

    Interesting blog post Andrew. For those who are nearly ready to cut the cord, but still want access to key channels such as ESPN, I'd recommend checking out Dish Network's new service, Sling TV. It provides access to a handful of channels for $20/month.https://gigaom.com/2015/01/15/sling-tv-details-price-devices-networks-resolution-bandwidth/

  • Andrew Ryback Reply
    2015-01-13 14:44:19

    Go for it! I'll admit that I was a little apprehensive about pulling the plug at first, but honestly, the transition away from DirecTV has been seamless. The only missing link is live sports, but there are a few work arounds depending on what sports you watch. Good luck!

  • Gregory Hart Reply
    2015-01-13 06:35:00

    While I am part of the 55 year old demographic that still has TV boxes and does TV viewing, I do my viewing using DVRs and networked PCs playing video files from an in-home server. I too have noticed that I view a handful of shows on a regular basis and have found various other sources for these shows. And now it has gotten to the point to where I am seriously considering ending my very long relationship with DirecTV and going streaming. Working in the TV industry also helped to open eyes to this as well. This transition from "old" TV is coming and the networks (Les Moonves, I am looking at you!) had better plan for it.

  • Gary Reply
    2013-08-08 09:44:39

    You've left out a HUGE part of this story by not mentioning Howard Stern's effect on the Sharknado buzz! #siris-ly

  • Marybeth Harrison Reply
    2013-08-07 14:46:29

    I can almost hear the theme song from Jaws as I read your post!