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    I'm directing documentary for a producer, but he keeps changing everything.
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    The producer is someone who worked on a short film of mine, so I am helping him on his documentary short film in return. However, just when the documentary was almost finished, the host of it, became unavailable now, and could not do the finishing narration. But now the producer is wanting me and everyone else, to do an entirely different documentary with different people and a new host. But this new one is not a short feature film documentary, like we agreed to before. He wants to do an entire miniseries now. This was not what we agreed to before, and I have two other filmmaking jobs coming up that will interfere scheduling wise. But he is really pressuring me and possibly the others now, wanting us to commit to this. We did commit to the original feature documentary before, but now, it's been changed to a miniseries about different things now.

    And the shoot dates are constantly changing, all the time, and there doesn't seem to be any real organization. Things are getting shot, but it's not really organized at all, and it's really effecting my ability to direct it, especially since I have to rethink everything constantly based on these changes. Plus I don't think anything that has been shot before is usable, since the narrative keeps changing. What do you think? Do you think I should tell him I did not agree to a miniseries, and we need to come up with a plan that involves an end shoot date, and stick to it, and not change anything more? Or would that be too harsh?
    Last edited by JimS2; 08-16-2020 at 11:20 PM.


     

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    Quote Originally Posted by JimS2 View Post
    just when the documentary was almost finished [...] the producer is wanting me and everyone else, to do [...] an entire miniseries now.
    The producer sounds completely insane.

    I have two other filmmaking jobs coming up that will interfere
    Well, there you go.

    But he is really pressuring me and possibly the others now, wanting us to commit to this.
    And the shoot dates are constantly changing, all the time, and there doesn't seem to be any real organization.[...] Plus I don't think anything that has been shot before is usable, since the narrative keeps changing.
    The producer sounds completely insane.

    What do you think?
    Why do you have to ask?


     

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    I don't know, I guess I just like helping people out and don't like being a quitter on people, especially if they helped me with a project of mine before. The producer is acting like he is under a lot of pressure though, so maybe he is just really ambitious about it.


     

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    Senior Member ahalpert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimS2 View Post
    I don't know, I guess I just like helping people out and don't like being a quitter on people.
    He's abusing you and he's probably not even organized enough to make a miniseries worth all this effort.

    Bow out gracefully while you still can.

    In these circumstances, I always try to be as diplomatic as possible so I dont burn my bridges. Even if i think I will never want to work with them again


     

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    Yeah I am trying to be supportive and I told him I will shoot this week but depending on how it goes, I think I will likely bow out then at the end of this week if things do not go well, if that is best. I just hate saying I will do something and then taking it back, since I already said I will try to help now that the host is gone.


     

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    When you did your project, how organized was it? Did you have a planned schedule, and stick to it, and not make huge changes on everyone at the last minute and demand they roll with it? Then why should you not expect the same of him? Fair is fair, and if you followed through with your plan and he is completely changing his (for the worse), how is that fair? You can agree to help at another time IF he has his stuff together on that occasion.


     

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    Senior Member paulears's Avatar
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    No contract, no proper plan again Ryan? If you';ve finished what you were paid to do (or agreed to do unpaid) then grow the missing set and say NO. You followed the plan, you finished the gig, and it's not your fault the thing n' be finished - although surely you could record a bit of dialogue remotely if there's a script.

    You really need to remember that as the Director, you make your product. Your producer is a complete idiot. Everyone concerned must realise this. Minor changes are a pain - but what he proposes is crazy and you do not wish to be associated with it, so walk - and encourage others to do so too!


     

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    Senior Member Peter C.'s Avatar
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    This reminds me of a conversation a while ago about how you might misinterpret a coldness of professionals on set. The point being when you get involved in trading favors and owing people... Generally speaking the best way to keep your friends is not to mix the two. Not that this guy is your friend it sounds a bit messy. I'd rather work for less, or free, but with a clear understanding of no strings attached. I'm happy to do you a favor if it is my choice and not some sort of gray arrangement. This producer sounds unorganized and is trying to pull you into his mess by guilt tripping you. What ever you do you need to set boundaries and limits, don't bend them it will only encourage him. Be polite but firm.


     

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    Oh okay. Yes I know fair is fair, and he did help me shoot over an extra day for my short film before. It's just with mine, I still stuck to the same short film, where all of a sudden he has switched the project to a miniseries, but does not know how many episodes at this point. So I thought maybe there is a difference between helping out for a few extra days on the same short film, vs, switching out the short film to a different miniseries, all of a sudden.


     

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    Senior Member Peter C.'s Avatar
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    If you owe him that's fine, you'll agree to help him either for one show, or one day what every you owe him. You have other jobs you have made commitments to. If you are available you will be happy to help him as long as it doesn't conflict. Leave it at that.

    As a matter of self reflection you can see why people don't want to work for producer/director who doesn't know what they're doing. They pull you into their chaos. Next time you decide to direct, think about that.
    Last edited by Peter C.; 08-17-2020 at 03:03 PM.


     

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