Earlier this week, Michael Taylor of Blood, Sweat, and Tedium fame wrote a very insightful post about the generation gaps that occasionally occur on a crew. It's no secret that I've had a few issues from being the youngin' surrounded by a group of seasoned veterans, so I was very pleased to find that at least one guy out there won't automatically assume we don't know the difference between a c-stand and a combo.
Reading Michael's post reminded me of another incident that occurred on a shoot not too long ago. It was a low-budget indie (as if there was any other kind) and thanks to a seasoned Producer and a relatively young DP calling in a few favors, we ended up with a mish-mash of crew. Some of us were young enough to be mistaken for college students and the rest were old enough to be our fathers. This led to an obvious generation gap and as a result, the older guys took it upon themselves to lead the pack, using us kids to do all the tedius work, like taking out all the fluorescent tubes in a supermarket (if you've never done it, take a look at the ceiling the next time you go grocery shopping).
While this was mildly annoying, my buddies and I didn't mind it too much. I'll take setting up a few c-stands over running a maze of cable any day. Plus, the older guys felt it was easier just to do things themselves rather than explain it to us in layman terms, which meant more time for us "newbies" to raid crafty. Hey, call use lazy if you want, but if you're getting paid in peanuts, letting the guys who think you don't know anything do most of the hard work doesn't sound like a bad idea.
The funnest part of the shoot for me was towards the end. A new grip was joining us for the last couple of days and the boy looked like he was still in high school. As the older guys stood around, rolling their eyes thinking that they have to "train" yet another kid on how to work on a set, the new kid and I chatted a bit over breakfast and I quickly discovered that he definitely knows his stuff. Anyway, the first task he got assigned was this:
Older Guy: "I need you to take the top and the stick part off of that stand and a black flag about this big, put it on that board with the pin in it, and place it next to that light over there."
My new friend looks at me with the most confused "WTF is this guy talking about??" face I've ever seen.
Try as I might, I couldn't help the slight grin spreading across my face as I said, "Head, arm, beaver board, 18-24 solid, lamp right, tweenie."
The new kid nods and does the task with the grace and precision only a well experienced grip has. The older guys could only stand and watch, amazed that the "kid" they had written off just moments before could so expertly complete the assignment after being given such bare-bone instructions.
After catching on that the kiddies probably know more about the job than they previously assumed, they stopped babying us and before long, things were finally running like they were supposed to: all of us as one crew. By the end of the shoot, we knew we had gained the respect of our older colleagues. While that may not have been enough for them to give us a call the next time they have spots to fill, I hope it at least makes them think twice about writing off the next young crew they work with.