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    #11
    Moderator David Jimerson's Avatar
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    Well, here's some counter-argument, OldCorpse.

    1) You didn't really understand the article if you think your description of "reality" somehow invalidates it. I had to re-read your post several times to make sure I hadn't missed something, but I didn't. The article wholeheartedly embraces the "reality" you present. It's pretty much the whole reason it was written.

    2) You blew past several dozen working, industry professionals (including our own Erik Olson) all saying the article is spot-on, apparently in search of someone who agreed with you on it, only the one you chose didn't actually identify what you call the "faulty premise" of the article; it (by implication) agreed with the article. What it DISAGREED with was another post which said the article was true, but that the industry needs to change so it doesn't have to be. The post you quoted was responding to THAT assertion, not the article. You presented it as though it were speaking to the article itself instead of being a reply to another post.

    3) Your experiences in the mail room of a talent agency aren't really germane. Sure, all businesses are somewhat analogous, but only somewhat. A film set is no more the mail room of a talent agency than it is the floor of a car dealership. Also, you're speaking entirely from the point of view of the equivalent of a PA, not from the point of view of someone higher up the food chain who actually knows why this article is invaluable.

    4) While this article gives suggestions as to how to avoid the bad behaviors it identifies, to say that it tries to be some kind of instruction manual which might give a false sense of "competence" is to claim the article is trying to be something it definitely isn't. It's about what not to do on set, and what beginner mistakes to avoid.

    5) The fact that some people DO INDEED need to be told that they have to be on time and shouldn't horse around on set is pretty much the point. I have no idea what your experience is on sets, big or small, if you have any, but it doesn't matter the size of the set -- there's always someone treating it like fantasy camp. It does no harm AT ALL to try to head that off at the pass, especially HERE, at DVXuser.

    6) If we here at DVXuser adopted the attitude of "you've either got it or you don't, if you don't, then F off; we're not going to bother with you," then we might as well just shut down.

    Ironically, your post is one of the most counterproductive and destructive posts I've seen here at DVXuser -- saying people should disregard this article is SPECTACULARLY BAD advice. And I do have some trouble buying that you didn't post it to be contrarian.
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    #12
    Rockin the Boat
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    Based on these counterarguments, I think there has been some clear misunderstanding. I'll try my best to clear it up - but I have neither the desire to repeat myself, nor engage in arguing for its own sake.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Jimerson View Post
    Well, here's some counter-argument, OldCorpse.

    1) You didn't really understand the article if you think your description of "reality" somehow invalidates it. I had to re-read your post several times to make sure I hadn't missed something, but I didn't. The article wholeheartedly embraces the "reality" you present. It's pretty much the whole reason it was written.
    I'm honestly not sure what you mean by "reality" here. I never disputed that what the article describes is what actually occurs on sets; it definitely reflects what happens all too often, and I didn't say otherwise - so...?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Jimerson View Post
    2) You blew past several dozen working, industry professionals (including our own Erik Olson) all saying the article is spot-on,[...]
    No I did not "blow past" these endorsements - the exact opposite is the case, as I in fact remarked that of over 100 comments only one took issue with the article - clearly the other comments thought it was "spot on"... which it was - I never disputed that the article describes the reality on sets very well.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Jimerson View Post
    apparently in search of someone who agreed with you on it, only the one you chose didn't actually identify what you call the "faulty premise" of the article; it (by implication) agreed with the article. What it DISAGREED with was another post which said the article was true, but that the industry needs to change so it doesn't have to be. The post you quoted was responding to THAT assertion, not the article. You presented it as though it were speaking to the article itself instead of being a reply to another post.
    And here we have the crux of the misunderstanding. You clearly have taken a meaning out of my post that I did not intend - and for that I must hold myself accountable... it is my fault for not expressing myself clearly enough (remember: never blame the audience/reader - any misunderstanding is your own fault, in this case mine).

    OK, I will now therefore make a nutshell version of what I meant. I will do so using an analogy. Let us imagine that we have a entrance exam math test at school that we administer to applicants/students, because we want to identify and produce a lot of good math prodigies to work at our university. The "math entrance exam" is the "work on a film set" here, and "applicants/students" are "PA's" and University is Film Industry. After administering those entrance exams for years, a school administrator writes an article describing all the terrible ways in which great numbers of applicants/students fail the exam, the horrible basic math mistakes, the inability to even follow what the problems are about, not even being properly read. Well, that certainly is true - that's the sad reality of those tests, "spot on" - just as it is a sad reality that those behaviors occur on sets - "spot on". No dispute from me. That part of the article is 100% correct. The implication by the author is - "wouldn't it be wonderful, if all the students gave these correct answers to all these entrance exam questions!!!" - or in the OP article "wouldn't it be wonderful if all PAs obeyed these principles, thus behaving correctly!" - why yes, it would be. But now comes the next step and the point at which I disagree with the premise of the article as well as those who agree with it. Because the solution the author proposes to this terrible situation and the way to assure the success of test taking, is according to the author, to... provide the answer to the test to the students ahead of time, so when the time comes to take the test, they copy forth all the answers provided - and presto, we have a 100% passing rate! That is the heart of my argument. The faulty premise in the article is to imagine that by writing this out and having PA's read and memorize these "proper behaviors" and avoiding "these mistakes", you will have a fantastically functioning set (this premise is echoed by your exhortation for folks to read and re-read this article and memorize these behaviors to mimic on set). That is a catastrophe - because it subverts the very purpose of having an entrance exam test in the first place. It is a misunderstanding of the purpose of the test - identifying suitable applicants/students. Publishing these test answers, and having students memorize them - publishing these principles and having the PA's memorize them are here equivalent. Do you see what's wrong here? The students/applicants/PAs have regurgitated back to us 100% correct test results (on-set behaviors), but you have utterly failed to identify suitable applicants and talent for the University / Film Industry.

    My entire point was that people are so blinded by the idea that "wow, terrible test results/on-set behaviors" "here are the correct answers /on-set behaviors" that they failed to take the elementary step to ask themselves if providing the answers ahead of time, or this article to PA's, is good in the long run, for either the film industry, or the PA's themselves. You will not end up with math prodigies working at your university by providing a cheat sheet at exam time, and you will not end up with good film industry workers by providing them with this cheat sheet of desired behaviors. Instead, the exam is there to cut out the unsuitables, and the wrong behaviors of PAs are there to identify who is unsuitable and needs to be fired pronto. Police detectives would be horrified if someone published an article on "here is how we identify criminals, and if you want to not be identified as an undesirable, alter your behavior such and such" - the article may be "spot on", but it is SOCIALLY DESTRUCTIVE, because it allows the criminal to hide and makes identifying them much harder. It doesn't alter their criminal nature, it allows them to mimic honest people and harder to identify to law enforcement. So it should not be published because it is "counterproductive and destructive". Same here. We need to weed out the unsuitable - those who need to be told that you can't be late for a job where a minute can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars... UNSUITABLE; those who need to be told not to engage in tickle games... UNSUITABLE; those who need to be told not to strew garbage around a set... UNSUITABLE; those who need to be told any of the obvious things this "spot on" article identifies... UNSUITABLE. Fire them. You've identified the unsuitable - keep going through PAs until you find one who is suitable. Question: if you are hiring, how do you treat folks who are late to the interview, wear unsuitable clothes, have hygiene issues or otherwise identify themselves as undesirable as hires? You're glad you've dodged a bullet - you would not appreciate having a consultant stop these guys before they reach you and coach them so they can penetrate your organization and wreak havoc. Because that inability to understand the basics is a tell. It will manifest later in some other far more damaging context. So you want to weed out as early as possible. Articles like this are like the interview coaches, like the detective methods reveals - counterproductive and destructive.

    And it is in this light, that I highlighted that one comment: of course he "agreed with the article" - as did I. It describes the sorry state of unsuitable PAs. Agreed. But he - seems to me - implicitly disagreed with that part of it - the premise - that giving cheat sheets such as this article, hand-holding, out of your way instructions (further exacerbated by the comment he's responding to, which urges the industry to be even more smarmy and "let me kiss your boo-boo" to incompetents) is a practical or desirable solution. He has neither the time, nor inclination to provide advice to pants-on-the-head morons, people who obviously don't belong on a busy set - and in truth, who during production has the time to fix a PA's string of out of sight idiotic mistakes and appalling behavior. You fire the pants-on-the-head guys, you don't provide instruction on how to put on pants.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Jimerson View Post
    3) Your experiences in the mail room of a talent agency aren't really germane. Sure, all businesses are somewhat analogous, but only somewhat. A film set is no more the mail room of a talent agency than it is the floor of a car dealership. Also, you're speaking entirely from the point of view of the equivalent of a PA, not from the point of view of someone higher up the food chain who actually knows why this article is invaluable.
    The analogy I was attempting to draw was between the undesirability of bypassing weeding mechanisms by well-meaning cheat sheets, instruction and hand holding. Of course they are different environments, but I believe this aspect is applicable to all. I am talking about the impact on the PA winnowing process - and the higher up food chain guys who think these prescribed bromides are anything good in the long run, are simply mistaken - as I argued extensively (the entire purpose of my post).

    Quote Originally Posted by David Jimerson View Post
    4) While this article gives suggestions as to how to avoid the bad behaviors it identifies, to say that it tries to be some kind of instruction manual which might give a false sense of "competence" is to claim the article is trying to be something it definitely isn't. It's about what not to do on set, and what beginner mistakes to avoid.
    And that's why it is destructive. It is equivalent to "if you don't want to be caught by the police, avoid these common beginner criminal mistakes" - I don't want them to avoid those mistakes. Because if they can commit mistakes so grotesque, they identify themselves as pants-on-the-head undesirables, to be fired - I don't want the industry to be deprived of this "tell". Don't publish this article, don't promote it, don't tell PAs to read it.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Jimerson View Post
    5) The fact that some people DO INDEED need to be told that they have to be on time and shouldn't horse around on set is pretty much the point. I have no idea what your experience is on sets, big or small, if you have any, but it doesn't matter the size of the set -- there's always someone treating it like fantasy camp. It does no harm AT ALL to try to head that off at the pass, especially HERE, at DVXuser.
    I have decent experience of sets, both my own (for films I produced) and others (where I helped, or simply observed), and both in the U.S. and in Europe - certainly not as much as many, but enough to understand the landscape. You are 100% correct, there are people who need to be told about those behaviors - that's the point of the article that's "spot on". But my counterpoint is that those are badly run sets - you'll agree that there are plenty of badly run sets - if they tolerate such behavior rather than instantly firing the offenders. And my point is - as in the one comment on the article I highlighted - those who prove by their behavior that they need to be told these extremely basic things, are immediate candidates for summary firing as complete unsuitables. I don't want someone around a critical enterprise, who needs to be told that pants don't go on the head.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Jimerson View Post
    6) If we here at DVXuser adopted the attitude of "you've either got it or you don't, if you don't, then F off; we're not going to bother with you," then we might as well just shut down.
    Come on. That is not in the least what I advocated. I said very explicitly that this is suitable winnowing out at the very lowest level of the food chain (and the article addresses itself to the PA level), and is just the first cut. Surely you understand that - every single organization has exactly the same process: you want to cut out those who are most fundamentally unsuitable. After that you do provide training/information/instruction to those who make the cut, who prove to have it. If you apply to the military, you will receive f.ex. officer training, or really any training - but only after you pass the most basic fitness/aptitude test. Before you even have a chance at that, the military will winnow out those who have physical or mental problems. Universities, trade schools etc. will not accept anybody off the street - they have basic requirements and may have entrance tests. That first cut is unapologetically a winnowing process to at least identify those who meet basic requirements. My claim is that at the level of PA - the most basic entry level of work on a set - if you fail to meet at least such basics as turning up on time, you need to be winnowed out.

    DVX user is the next level, and - as anywhere - information is provided, rightly so. Schools teach. Military promotes. But that is after the basic cut. And when we have someone turn up here at such a level of inability, they get shown out. I don't want to identify a past poster here (just a hint - his name had to do with metal and equines), who seemed reasonably intelligent, certainly literate, but kept asking such insanely basic questions, and after being given film 101 answers patiently over and over again, he kept being confused - finally, Barry exasperated banned him. Some people unjustly accused him of trolling - but I thought it was crystal clear that the guy just didn't have the neurological organization for film work - he was not a troll. It has nothing to do with intelligence or willingness to work hard - but to give an extreme example, dyslexia causes people to make insanely stupid errors, even though they may be very smart and hard working. There really is such a thing as an "it" for a given field of work, and if you don't have it, no amount of explanation/instruction will help you. I've witnessed this many times - some people are just not cut out for business, art, X, whatever. And I thought that guy was a classic. Barry "cut" him - on dvxuser - and was right to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Jimerson View Post
    Ironically, your post is one of the most counterproductive and destructive posts I've seen here at DVXuser -- saying people should disregard this article is SPECTACULARLY BAD advice. And I do have some trouble buying that you didn't post it to be contrarian.
    As I said, I think you must have misunderstood my post, and I tried to correct that. And I hope that this statement by you is based on that misunderstanding, because if not, I'd be pretty hurt and discouraged. I poured a lot of time - that I don't have a ton of - into dvxuser, giving my best in order to help make this a thoughtful and interesting community and I hope I am making a true and original contribution. If I thought you meant this seriously, rather than based on a misunderstanding, I would have to say I would regret writing in this thread at all, and I would feel I need to cut back on my participation in this community. I am sincere, and have no interest in being a contrarian - but if it so happens that my opinion differs drastically from the majority, should I feel inhibited in expressing it to the best of my ability?


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    OldCorpse, your argument is so full of holes that your intellectual integrity is in question. Your reply to my opening questions likewise were full of holes, topped with condescension. So, ironically, I'm encouraged by your advice --- to give up talking to you.

    To the rest I say this:

    1. Yeah, this article is kind of weird. I would not be surprised if someone got fired for these things, without the courtesy of being handed this article as a warning.

    2. These are general skills in responsibility and consideration, applicable to any job. OldCorpse says that different people are fit for different jobs and maybe you just aren't cut out for the film industry. That's kind of true and kind of misleading. It's true that people seem like they're born for some things and not others, but that is on a completely different spectrum: introvert or extrovert; detail oriented or not; and maybe: do you like construction, medicine, the arts, or something else? But the infractions addressed in the article are about character. If you're doing the bad things in this article, not only are you a bad production assistant, but you'll also be a bad accountant, gym coach, or salesperson.

    3. The more candidates you have, the faster you can fire people. If you're Warner Brothers, with 100 people waiting in line, go ahead and just fire the guy. The Devil Wears Prada shows us that other prestigious industries can be just as cutthroat, too. But if you're Joe College shooting a $500 student film, you might have to try to rehabilitate your "crew" (who's likely a friend working for free) and make the most of it.

    4. This is the second time I've seen article about film set courtesy in the past few months. I've also heard other stories about how this generation of Americans is overall less disciplined by their parents. So maybe even Warner Brothers feels like its old way of winnowing out good candidates won't work, because there are fewer good candidates. And if Warner Brothers is feeling the squeeze, then the mid-level television and commercial productions are feeling it even moreso. And that is more who I thought this article was aimed at: mid- and low-level film productions, not a top Hollywood multimillion-dollar film set.

    5. Although I think it's fine to fire someone on the spot for these infractions (but I'm more of a three-strikes-and-you're-out kind of guy), I disagree with OldCorpse that disseminating this information is harmful. That's all too Farenheit 451 for me. Regardless of where you're at, there's always a chance that a reinjection of the truth will nudge you in the right direction. And if, like OldCorpse says, someone takes this as an exhaustive list of do's and don'ts, and anything off the list is therefore okay, then they still haven't gotten it (yet). What I take away from this is sort of an outline that emerges. You can try to teach someone generalities like: look for ways to help, consider others' needs, etc. Or you can spray them with a few very specific things: if you see spilled coffee, clean it up, even if you didn't do it; put your phone on silent; etc. The latter way actually helps people learn more. If they're trying to learn, they would naturally try to extrapolate the general principle from the specifics.

    6. Even people who have demonstrated these desirable behaviors can benefit from reading the article. Just like the athlete gets from the coach who tells him things he already knows, like, "Come on! Do it! Tighten up those elbows" (or whatever) so I have often benefited from someone reminding me of things I already know.

    7. I don't take this article necessarily as something to hand out on a set. In fact I might take it as all the more excuse to just fire you on the spot. Hey, there are all these articles out now and you're still doing this thing. Now you really have no excuse. You're fired!
    Last edited by combatentropy; 09-16-2015 at 07:53 PM.


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    #14
    Wish I were banned. Drew Ott's Avatar
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    The "it" is definitely not genetic. Anyone who has graduated high school has the genetic intelligence to become a great director.

    edited to add: I haven't even read the thread. The article seemed absolutely correct for on set behavior. I can't figure out what anyone is arguing because of the walls of text. Less is more.
    Last edited by Drew Ott; 10-14-2015 at 12:08 PM.
    "You'd better cure all those personal problems that might be holding back something you want to say." -John Cassavetes


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    #15
    Wish I were banned. Drew Ott's Avatar
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    Ok I read through the posts now. First I'll say that the article is good. I read "The Set Production Assistant's Handbook" when I was 14, a year before I started working on sets, and it was entirely helpful. This article is similar. The article is aimed to help entry level people to understand how film culture works. Nobody is going to magically know things like how it's a faux pas to sit down on set if you're a PA.

    Second I'll say that OldCorpse's perspective is completely valuable and interesting for me to read. The fact that it's getting down voted is really pathetic. How dare he disagree with a stickied post, oh god!

    Allow me to try to reconcile the two perspectives here. An exaggerated version of OldCorpse's point of view is what Tibetan Buddhists do to find the new Dalai Lama. After the Dalai Lama dies, high ranking officials wait a few years and then go looking for a super young child who they believe is now the Dalai Lama. If those children were to be given cheat-sheets for how to pass the tests, we would potentially choose the wrong kid. Similarly, most people would rather marry someone who was naturally charming instead of someone who had to read a million dating books.

    On the flip side, not everyone making a paycheck in Hollywood needs to be the Dalai Lama and sometimes we just need competent PA's to make coffee and not bother anyone.
    "You'd better cure all those personal problems that might be holding back something you want to say." -John Cassavetes


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    #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by combatentropy View Post

    4. This is the second time I've seen article about film set courtesy in the past few months. I've also heard other stories about how this generation of Americans is overall less disciplined by their parents. So maybe even Warner Brothers feels like its old way of winnowing out good candidates won't work, because there are fewer good candidates. And if Warner Brothers is feeling the squeeze, then the mid-level television and commercial productions are feeling it even moreso. And that is more who I thought this article was aimed at: mid- and low-level film productions, not a top Hollywood multimillion-dollar film set.

    “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers..”

    Socrates (469 – 399 BC)


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