Behind the Lens

Behind the Lens

Filmmaking perspectives from the less glamorous side of the camera

Most Recent Articles in "Behind The Lens"

The Size of a Hollywood Film Crewz

Exactly how big is a Hollywood film crew? Producer Stephen Follows proposed a similar question to some students in Malaysia he was training to be production assistants:

In order to give the students a sense of the scale of these productions I asked them to guess how many people worked on the movie ‘Avatar’. Guesses ranged from a few hundred up to a thousand. The actual figure (according to IMDb) is 2,984.

This got me thinking about what the number of crew members could tell us about a production.

The figures Follows comes up with are interesting (though include caveats such as IMDB’s dependency on self-reporting) and reiterate that crews are like one giant organism slowly lurching towards a creative goal. Like organisms have organs, there are different departments that each have their own role and Follows manages to break down each department’s numbers as well.

Because of how IMDB is setup, the camera department is lumped together with grips and electrics under the heading of “Camera and Electrical.” So the top three films between 1994 and 2013 with the biggest “Camera and Electrical” crews were Now You See Me (334), Iron Man 3 (260), and Titanic (230). Looking at those movies’ credits on IMDB, a lot of this is due to the fact that crew were sourced as locals from several locations and their shoots also demanded additional units for stunts, VFX, etc.

But even when accounting for IMDB’s misgivings and a healthy margin of error, Follows’ breakdown gives you a real sense of the scale Hollywood films operate at.

27 Ways Talent Can Avoid Looking Like Assholesz

Actor Callam Rodya shares 27 tips for those in front of the camera to avoid being labeled as divas:

Don’t get me wrong, acting is extremely difficult (especially when you try to do it well), and it’s important to respect that. But when you look around at everyone else on set, you have to admit, we’ve got a pretty good gig most of the time.

Here are some of my favorite lines from Callam’s list:

3. Some actors like to hang out on set even when it’s not their scene to shoot. That’s okay, but stay the fuck out of everyone’s way.

7. Hit your marks like a precision airstrike. You’re just wasting a take if you and that focus point the camera assistant marked aren’t going to align.

18. If you’re one of those “method” or “internal” types, stay in your trailer until you’re called on set. If you can’t do that, don’t snap at the friendly boom op for “pulling you out of your zone” because he asked you if you’ve seen the “Breaking Bad” finale.

In general, I’ve had good experiences with actors and actresses. There’s been a few moments where they’ve come across as jerks, but then again, I’m sure the same could be said about me – it can happen when you work 12-hours in a pressure cooker.

I do have a bone to pick, however, with Callum’s assumption that crew automatically resent talent for their later call times or for relaxing on set or having it “easy.” Most crew understand it’s just a different gig. It has its own perks and also requires skills (and artistry) many crew don’t have.

The only time I can think of crew resenting talent is when they take these perks too far and hinder the work crew are trying do by showing up late, constantly messing up lines, or not taking things seriously. But that’s a feeling crew have towards anyone on set regardless if they’re below-the-line, above-the-line, in front of, or behind the camera – we just want everyone to work hard, be professional, and do great work.