Clients are really important. It's the personal relationships you build with them that bring you experience and business. There's a philosophy that you should always remember whenever you're with a client - it's common decency, and I can't believe shooters don't do this, but these are in my eyes an necessity with any job - paid or unpaid - small or big client.
Some time ago, I was brought in as a shooter with Panny Hire for a job with English football club Aston Villa. We've all worked together many times so the drill was pretty familiar - some simple green screen set-ups and we have either all or a select few members of the team drop by and perform for the camera.
You'll find that football teams like to do a 'media day' - all around me were a number of other photographers and filmmakers with different stations doing different things - much easier - and cheaper - for the club to get all of their content shot and stored.
As you can imagine, there are a number of professionals here, media and sport. Aston Villa is a big club, and whilst you should be taking steps to ensure the job goes smoothly - here are some actions that you can do that won't go unnoticed (these might sound pretty straight forward, but trust me, these rules are broken more than you think).
1. - Introduce yourself to the other departments/teams, and your client/s
It might be pretty hard to avoid introducing yourself to a client, after all it's about their product and it's important to know exactly what they want.
But in this case, it was an all out attack for Villa (pun very much intended) - As soon as I entered the venue, I sought out one of the Villa media team's shooters and introduced myself straight away, we had a great little catch up which kept things quite relaxed, and we got a good idea of what our 'station' was involved with.
On my way back to our gear, I caught the Villa media manager and again, introduced myself and my Panny Hire colleague - we talked about the shoot and if there was anything in particular that they wanted if we could fit it in.
Next was the station closest to ours - they were filming some completely different content to what we were - but even just saying hello was just enough to break the ice. Sometimes that's all it needs to be on set. Especially if you're called in on some bigger sets with multiple teams - it's important to do that fast in that environment, because eventually someone will ask you who X is, or what department Y is in and knowing who is who and where they are will help you out a lot. That way you'll end up getting to know the whole crew too!
I've noticed that some clients like to try and shoot more - sometimes a lot more - than what's on the shot list, which is fine - as long as you get the stuff that's needed it's easy enough to sneak in a few more shots - however this time the day was very straight forward so we didn't need to do any of that, but he ask me to break down the clips in parts for his editors (as this was content going to different parts of the club) .
2. - If you're shooting continuous talking heads / interviews - after each clip, make a separate list of notes for the editor
Again, it's easy to get away from that shot list, but even if you're following the shot list there might be 2/3 good or bad takes - even if the day is rushed, please give the editor a break and send them some notes on what was good or bad - they might not even speak to you, but it all looks good if you hand your client and extra note helping them out a little bit more. It goes a long way.
3. Packing Away - Please get on it!
One of my biggest issues when working on set., is not packing away quickly, or leaving the 'bigger' items for someone else to do. There's been times when I've seen people procrastinating on set and running around just to 'look' busy.
Breaking down at the end of the day is rough. No-one wants to do it - especially on the bigger sets where it can take a while.
But it's one of those jobs where if it's not done, no-one goes home. So keep that in mind. If you leave when there's a breakdown I wouldn't expect to see you on that set again - it sounds harsh but it really shows the attitude of that individual.
When working on the set as part of the video / dit dept. on a feature, we had DIT in one area, video in a completely different area, 3 wireless transmitters (which are all partnered with a hardwire...just in case) - and if i recall 6 monitors for the rest of the crew (Director's monitor, Producers, make-up, etc). These days were long and it wasn't irregular to go over shooting time - but we got all of that equipment back in the truck in about half an hour.
Leading on from that set story, it's your mindset - I have no problem with cable bashing or loading / unloading because it's part of the job. It's part of my job - If I didn't do it I don't think i'd have been there all that much. It's about thinking on your feet and keeping up with the tempo of the crew.
I honestly believe that if you can do a great job of packing away on set, it speaks wonders for your character, but it is 100% noticeable if someone isn't pulling their weight. 100%. A definite red flag.
4. Thank your team, thank your client.
No matter how tough, or how easy the shoot was - this is my number 1 rule (despite it being number 4 on this list).
A shake of the hand and a 'thanks for having me' I think is so important to a client. It shows you've appreciated being there and working with whoever has hired you. Even if you're starting out and this is an unpaid gig, I'd go as far to say that saying thank you would leave a lasting impression and you could be called back in the future.
Equally, maybe you've potentially worked solidly as a unit for either hours, days or weeks. Producing content isn't the person behind the shutter, it's the art directors, sound engineers, set builders, gaffers, AD's, PA's - it's make-up and grip, camera teams, video teams, producers & clients that all work together to create something, and when it's all complete everyone can proudly look back and say 'we did it'.
And there we are.... There you have it! 4 rules to follow when you're out filming. They're pretty simple, but they're all in my opinion pretty important, and there should be no reason why you aren't following these. Manners cost nothing, and it's going that extra distance that really shows off who you are.