Producers are often faced with the dilemma to do things the right way or to do things a different way, not always wrong. It’s not always so easy as right in wrong. Sometimes you bend a rule, or say you have 15 people on set when you actually have 18, or take a shot that may be a little risky but will look amazing and nothing bad will happen, right? Then there are producers who ignore the rights and wrongs of the matter, taking shots on properties they are not allowed to be on, lying to a vendor to save a dollar, underpaying crew to line their own pockets.
While I want to say we always do things the right way, the nature of productions lends to a need for improvisation. It’s ultimately at the discretion and responsibility of a producer to allow something or not. A producer has a responsibility to the crew and to the project. So yes, producers will approach the line – like pushing for a 13th hour. Personally as a producer, I can say that we always avoid doing things the wrong way. There are lines you don’t cross and things you shouldn’t do or make your crew do.
This all comes from the recent news of a camera assistant being killed on a production in Georgia. If you haven’t heard about it yet, here’s the news post about it. Not knowing the situation entirely, only by reading news on the event, I can not say who is at fault. The producers may have had full permission to be there and it was an accident. Maybe there was a miscommunication about scheduling, or something changed. Or maybe they didn’t have permission to be on the tracks. I don’t know, and I’m not going to judge.
However, it did remind me that there are reasons why to do things the right way or at least in an appropriate manner. There is no movie, no scene, no shot that is worth a life. Yes, 95% of the time you can probably “get away” with something. But a producer has to know where the line is and be strong enough to say no, we will not cross it.
There are reasons why we, and me personally, have certain things we will not allow on a production. There are other things that we advise against, but leave it to a client or director to decide. It’s our job as producers, as those responsible, to know what you’re allowed to do, what you can do, and what you will not do. We have to put our foot down because there are some lines that should not be crossed. We producers don’t say no lightly. It is not because we think we are better than someone else, or because we are trying to sabotage a creative vision.
So no, I will not allow an actor to walk around a public train with a prop gun without a permit. No, I will not allow pyro effects in a house without licensed professionals. No, I will not allow a client to make a crew member drive them around all night and then pick them up early the next morning to work a 14 hour day. And yes, I have been asked all of these things.