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.
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:
- Have you worked on similar events?
- Do you have experience working in this specific role?
- Have you used [insert production equipment] on prior jobs?
- Have you worked at [insert venue] in the past?
- Do you know [insert crew member name]? He/she will be filling the role of [insert role].
- 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.