It's a phrase that no one likes to hear, yet sometimes, we're forced to say it. Especially if you're working in grip/electric on a low budget shoot. For some reason, Production assumes that they can use us like PAs when they've run out of actual PAs to abuse. It's even worse when a different department assumes the same thing (whether it's because of stupidity or laziness on their part... usually both). So in case anyone wants to avoid hearing "That's not my job" from a grip/electric, here are a few guidelines...
-- Just because it's on the truck doesn't mean we're responsible for it. This is a continuation of my previous post. We understand that there's not enough money for each department to have its own truck and we all have to share. And while grip and lighting gear may take up most of the space, that doesn't mean it's our job to load on the wardrobe/props/tables/chairs for you. While most of us are nice enough to do it anyway, it really bugs me when people just expect you to. On that note, just because there's wardrobe/props/crafty stuff in the truck doesn't automatically make us part of that department. I shit you not, I once had a sound guy ask me if a specific microphone was in the case he had me put in the back of the truck. "Uh... I dunno. It's really not my responsibility to know exactly what's in that case." Without missing a beat, he gives me a stare down and says "Yeah, it is." Um... What??
-- It's not our job to do lock down. Find someone else to keep people from walking by that window when we're rolling. Don't have enough PAs? That's not my problem. I'm too busy setting up for the next shot, wrapping up the last one, or tweaking the lights between takes to fix your lack of foresight.
-- If we're running put-puts, believe it or not, it's not our job to get gas for them. Yes, we're the ones who operate them. We turn them on, run the cable, and make sure they're working properly. And while we do keep an eye on the fuel gauge, someone else needs to be the one making the drive to the gas station to fill up the gas can. In fact, a good rule of thumb: if it requires leaving the location, don't ask us to do it.
-- If it's not grip/lighting gear, we're not touching it. I'm sorry if there are boxes of props and a camera case in the shot, but it's not our job to move stuff that belongs to another department. It's not that we're lazy and unhelpful, but it's because some of that stuff is worth more than my car. Or someone worked really hard to get that futuristic ray gun just right and one wrong move could reduce the all important prop to broken pieces on the floor. I have enough worries trying not to damage my own gear, thankyouverymuch. And inversely, if you're not in g/e, don't touch our stuff.
-- It's not our job to be extras. We're not the ones who insisted on doing a big party scene. We're not the ones who couldn't get thirty of our closest friends to show up. And it's not our fault you didn't think to cast someone to be "Girl On Bus" when she was clearly written in the script. Again, it's not our job to fix your lack of foresight. (And don't act like you're doing us a big favor when asking us to be in the scene. You're not.)
Some of this may sound like whining, yes. I mean, how hard can it be to keep civilians from walking on the sidewalk during a take? Or going down the street for a can of gas? But the point is, that's not what I was hired to do. My own job is keeping me busy enough without having to explain to my boss that no, I can't tweak that light/adjust that flag/fly in a stand because I'm setting up chairs/moving cans of paint/watching a dog piss on a tree outside. And don't pull that "This is a low budget film. Everyone helps with everything" crap either. I'm all for lending a hand where it's needed, but there's a big difference between working together and flat out doing someone else's job. Being low budget is not an excuse for being unprofessional.