There are those occasional awkward moments on set when somebody
insists on doing a thing a bad way and incorrectly slams a suggestion.
Frequently, the more bizarre the misconception, the more emphatically
it will be upheld.
Some things I've been told:
- Never use zooms.
(Tell this to Quentin Tarentino. Or watch Kill Bill Vol. 2.)
- Always use boom mics, never lavs or body mics.
(You could tell this to Robert Altman, though he's unlikely to hear.
Altman loved overlapping dialog and his sound mixer sometimes ran
complex setups with hidden mics worn by each actor.)
In both these cases, the misconception is an oversimplification
of a general principle. It's what you would do commonly, but not
In other more bizarre cases, I've had a DP confuse film exposure
with video exposure techniques; an editor insist on an elaborate
and counterproductive project structure; a PA argue over logging
and slating procedures; and producers ask for processes which were
technically flawed or nonsensical - everyone refusing to be talked
out of it or even try something different.
Where do these dogmatically defended delusions come from? In my
experience, they are acquired knowledge -- heard or read or told
from some source not currently available, then pronounced as gospel.
First, don't believe everything you read. You'd be surprised
at how many industry professionals might not know what they're talking
about, and some of us are allowed to write it down without adequate
Next, get a second opinion. Ask around. A consensus will
usually emerge on how things are done, or what alternatives to try.
There's not always a one-size-fits-all solution. In any case, crew
members frequently love an opportunity to talk about their area
Most importantly, listen to people. Be open. Filmmaking
is an inherently collaborative art. Knowing a good suggestion when
you hear one is the key to getting the best result you can.
And finally, try it! Shoot a test. Give it a whirl and see
if it works. Shoot alternatives and discover which you like best
in the edit. Your crew and collaborators will probably respect you
more, and, you never know, you might just discover something new,
different and really, really clever.
NOTE: Craig Tollis is an
Atlanta-based editor and Filmmaker with ten years of experience.
Please send any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Craig will gladly respond.