Once upon a time, there were two Key Grips. One was a jack ass. He'd make loud, inappropriate comments, hit on all the ladies on set, bad mouth the AC when her back is turned, steal your work gloves and hide them, and would probably spit in your coffee when you weren't looking as "joke".
Meanwhile, Key Grip #2 was a prince. He'd swap jokes and stories with you like an old buddy and made sure you stayed warm on night shoots. He'd thank you for your help and tell you you're awesome at the end of every day and whenever you brought a c-stand onto set, he'd act like you were doing him such a huge favor. An absolute peach to work with.
But if you plopped me down between the two and told me to pick one to work with, I'd pick Mr. Jack Ass. Every time.
Why? Because despite all the frustrations, embarrassments and headaches this guy causes, he's a better boss than Key #2. He may be an ultra douche bag, but he never directs his verbal abuses to his crew. He thinks two steps ahead and keeps everyone informed. And if someone drops the ball and makes our jobs harder (like a certain "AD" who doesn't know what the shots are and will just guess) he'll let him have it. The words "holding back" aren't in his vocabulary and he doesn't take shit from Production. More importantly, while we all enjoy what we do, he knows that at the end of the day, it's just a job. And at the end of the day, when production can't pay you a dime for OT, he'll go around and start taking stands and rigs apart, effectively ending the shoot and sending you home on time.
The second, more well behaved Key Grip was also a good boss, but he just didn't stick up for his crew like the other one. No money for overtime? Eh... He's so chummy with his crew that he knows no one would object too much to staying a just a little longer. What? We have to re-stage everything because the AD lied about what the shot was? He'll just shrug his shoulders and do it. Oh, you haven't gotten paid yet and it's been two months since wrap? Hm... Give it another couple of days.
In this non-union, low budget, indie world of film production, things are tough as it is. You're overworked, under paid and around every corner is another Producer trying to cut costs and sees crew and safety as expendables. You have to learn how to put your foot down and take care of yourself ("The only way you'll get that shot right now is if you agree to over-time pay." "No, I won't run the distro without a ground!"). But how do you do that when your own boss is willing to be walked all over?
You could say it's the motherly instinct in me that makes me want to protect those working below me, or maybe it's a female thing where I want to feel protected. But either way, being a good boss isn't about being nice to everyone and making sure people like you. It's about getting the job done the way it's supposed to be done. It's about making sure that everyone involved is holding up their end of the bargain. It's about standing up for the crew who's busting their asses for you, no matter who you may piss off.
In this world, nice guys finish last.
Choosing to work with Mr. Jack Ass over Mr. Prince Charming may not result in a happily ever after. In fact, he'll probably end up pissing me off most of the time and I might "accidentally" beam him with a piece of speed rail, but at least I know I'll get home on time, my check will clear, and more importantly, I'll make it through this shoot alive. In the end, that's all that really matters.