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#489758 - 05/29/13 02:33 PM Leadership with Humility
Shiva Offline
CoS Reverend

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 2762
Loc: Ormond Beach, FL
I was in a conversation with someone in regard to leadership styles this morning. It seems strange that someone can exhibit a great deal of humility while in a powerful position and still be highly respected, but that's exactly how I decided to play my hand as a first-time film director.

Since we've gone into production for Predatory Moon, I've been amazed at how strongly the cast and crew have bonded. Somehow we've managed to all work and live together for the past month without any amount of grumbling, complaints, or desire to murder each other. I've worked on crew for many projects in the past and I've never seen this level of comradery develop before.

We ended the first phase of our production schedule yesterday, which was 22 shooting days over a 32 day period. When I got back to the crew house I found a message waiting for me from a bloke I'd worked under a couple years ago. He asked me “How were you able to keep such a large cast and crew together during shooting without anyone flaking out?”

I've received a few similar messages from other independent directors in the area over the past few weeks, some of whom I'd never even met before. Word got out that I was at the helm of a very difficult project that was going a lot smoother than anyone expected from a first-time director. It's also well-known that the cast and crew of Predatory Moon are a mix of novices and professionals who are all working on a volunteer basis. What was my secret to keeping such a big boat afloat on such a microscopic budget?

The fact is, I did have a handful of people flake out on me a month or so before we started shooting. Many were just folks who weren't prepared for the massive amount of work that was going to be required to get this project done, but there were a couple who didn't have faith in me because I didn't act like the kind of leader they thought I should. To quote one of the latter people: “You need a director more than you need a UPM.” (Unit Production Manager)

The guy who replaced the abovementioned asshole did have some reservations about taking the position (especially after talking to the person he was replacing.). He had a solid background in the industry and was used to working on studio projects that are ruled with an iron fist. I told him right off the bat that I intended to run this project in my own unconventional way and that I was going to be leaning very heavily on the crew to help me. I'm used to being in the trenches, so I also refused to be put up on a pedestal. I often joked that I was just “pretending to be a director”.

Sounds like a terrible leadership style, right? Allow me to explain. I may be very good in my own specialized field, but I know very little about camera, sound, and lighting equipment. I won't even pretend to know what half the gadgets are that people brought with them to the set. So if a cameraman tells me that he has a great idea for a shot or the sound mixer tells me that my idea is for a shot is going to be impossible to record dialog for, then I'm going to listen to my crew. Film is very much a collaborative medium.

The result was that the crew felt they could approach me about any issues or ideas they had that would add value to the film. They knew that I respected their opinions and valued their expertise, and I didn't treat them like labor monkeys. They brought in other people who were able to offer even more to the project and ultimately provided an amazing amount of bang for our very limited buck. People genuinely enjoyed being on set and often arrived early just to hang out before work.

I handled the actors in the same way. Even day-players and extras were treated like they were family when they arrived, and I made it a point to know everyone's name and take time to chat with them. I knew I'd never get good performances out of the actors if I just sat around and barked orders at them, so I told each and every one of them that I wanted them to have a large hand in developing their characters with me. None of the characters are portrayed exactly as I'd envisioned them when I wrote the script. In my opinion, they are far better. One of my leads was meant to be a sullen drunk, but the actor and I sat down and decided that he would be better as a carefree type of alcoholic instead. He gave me 120% in his performance, and I couldn't be happier about it.

It is my habit to give the actors some notes and then let them take 10 minutes to figure out how they see a scene playing out before I come in and polish what they've come up with. Sometimes I have to push them with a gentle hand to get them to go to some pretty dark places, but they trust me to guide them. Because of this they are able to “own” their characters and give some incredible performances.

One of the crew members told me: “Your humility in the face of tyrannical opportunity is admirable.” I think that pretty much sums it up right there. I know that “humility” is often looked at as being a dirty word, but I just couldn't imagine getting such amazing results from just barking out orders and administering emotional beatings. I've worked under a few directors who took on a know-everything attitude and demanded 100% control... and they inevitably dealt with a high number of drop-outs and half-assed performances from their cast and crews. By admitting to people that I don't know their jobs as well as they do and that I am putting my faith in them, I've found that they'll bend over backwards to make me happy in return.

Sadly, I was not even on set when the last scene was shot yesterday. I've been really sick over the past two weeks and was trying to soldier on, but the heat and humidity was pretty harsh and I knew I was in real danger of passing out on set. So I quietly turned the director's hat over to my cinematographer (some of you know him as Rev. Virus9) and asked the UPM to discreetly drive me back to the crew house so I could lay down.

On the road, the UPM told me that he was beyond amazed at what kind of a director I was and that he'd never seen anything like what I've managed to pull off so far. He was very happy that he'd given me a chance even though my unusual style gave him worry in the beginning when he replaced a man who claimed that I was “destined to fail”.

About three hours later everyone else returned from the shoot and I was truly touched by how all of them came into my room individually to see me and expressed how happy they were to be part of the “werewolf pack”. Most of us will be working together again in July when we start on “Phase 2” of shooting, but the actors who have wrapped up on their scenes volunteered to come in and help on crew for the rest of the year. Everyone involved wants Predatory Moon to be the best film it possibly can be.

I feel that is how leadership with humility works. I'm just hoping that the nay-sayers have gotten a good earful about how I wasn't the trainwreck they insisted I would be.
_________________________
Rev. Shiva Rodriguez
Shiva's World / Headless Historicals / Siren Productions Media / Predatory Moon

"The ugliest of trades have their moments of pleasure. Now, if I were a grave-digger, or even a hangman, there are some people I could work for with a great deal of enjoyment." - Douglas Jerrold

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#489759 - 05/29/13 02:54 PM Re: Leadership with Humility [Re: Shiva]
Delta Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 12/18/07
Posts: 6756
Loc: Nar
It's the greatest pity for film that your approach is so rare. Congratulations on surviving a hard shoot, and congratulations beyond praise that words can convey for finishing it with the respect of everyone you worked with!!!

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#489762 - 05/29/13 08:53 PM Re: Leadership with Humility [Re: Delta]
Shiva Offline
CoS Reverend

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 2762
Loc: Ormond Beach, FL
Ah, we're far from finished. We've got at least 6 days of shooting B-roll starting in July and then another 2 weeks with filming the creatures and the heavy F/X in Oct/Nov. (I don't want the werewolves flirting with heat stroke during the Florida summer!)

I don't expect us to get out of post until early 2014.
_________________________
Rev. Shiva Rodriguez
Shiva's World / Headless Historicals / Siren Productions Media / Predatory Moon

"The ugliest of trades have their moments of pleasure. Now, if I were a grave-digger, or even a hangman, there are some people I could work for with a great deal of enjoyment." - Douglas Jerrold

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#489780 - 05/30/13 09:05 AM Re: Leadership with Humility [Re: Shiva]
MagdaGraham Offline
CoS Priestess

Registered: 06/23/04
Posts: 13369
Loc: Scotland
Brilliantly clever.

Reminds me of the saying -
"Please" gets you much further than "push".
_________________________
We are the makers of manners. (Shakespeare)

http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=3

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#489781 - 05/30/13 09:20 AM Re: Leadership with Humility [Re: Shiva]
Zaftig Offline
CoS Witch

Registered: 09/23/06
Posts: 3415
I have been in the workforce in one capacity or another for over 20 years now, had many jobs, and worked for and with all kinds of leadership styles, in administrative, creative, and academic environments.

I agree that the best types of leaders are those that command respect by example, do not micromanage, trust the people they are working with, and can provide help and support when asked/needed, yet still manage to convey a sense of direction and confidence in themselves and everyone around them. Looks like you pulled this off wonderfully - congratulations!

I do think some people are more natural born leaders than others, and nothing is worse than working for someone who is overcompensating for being under qualified by yelling and screaming. They assume volume masks incompetence; it only highlights it.

I respond best to someone who expects the best from me, and trusts me to deliver. I am often put in charge of a particular project, and I take a cue from what I respond to and allow others to show me what they have. It has been working quite well so far.

I follow the progress on Facebook and I'm looking forward to seeing the film!

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#489833 - 06/03/13 02:51 AM Re: Leadership with Humility [Re: Shiva]
DamnedLucky Offline

CoS Member

Registered: 08/03/06
Posts: 373
Loc: Massachusetts, USA
Nicely done. Thanks for sharing.

I'll bet you'll have an easy time pulling in some of the same people on future projects.

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#490270 - 06/29/13 04:34 PM Re: Leadership with Humility [Re: Zaftig]
Andreei Offline


Registered: 06/29/13
Posts: 1
Originally Posted By: Zaftig
I have been in the workforce in one capacity or another for over 20 years now, had many jobs, and worked for and with all kinds of leadership styles, in administrative, creative, and academic environments.

I agree that the best types of leaders are those that command respect by example, do not micromanage, trust the people they are working with, and can provide help and support when asked/needed, yet still manage to convey a sense of direction and confidence in themselves and everyone around them. Looks like you pulled this off wonderfully - congratulations!

I do think some people are more natural born leaders than others, and nothing is worse than working for someone who is overcompensating for being under qualified by yelling and screaming. They assume volume masks incompetence; it only highlights it.

I respond best to someone who expects the best from me, and trusts me to deliver. I am often put in charge of a particular project, and I take a cue from what I respond to and allow others to show me what they have. It has been working quite well so far.

I follow the progress on Facebook and I'm looking forward to seeing the film!

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#490279 - 06/30/13 05:09 AM Re: Leadership with Humility [Re: Andreei]
VDubbed Offline


Registered: 11/05/12
Posts: 10
During my time in the service, I had many commanding officers that were responsible for the crew. Some were total hardasses who intimidated, very few were 'one of us' and appreciated those who made the ship run.

Respect is something that is earned - not given, or intimidated for that matter. Kudos for you and your leadership style. Those were the COs that I always remember as having the biggest impact on my career.
_________________________
Shit doesn't happen - Life does.
I make shit happen.

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#491035 - 08/12/13 04:37 AM Re: Leadership with Humility - Follow up [Re: Shiva]
Shiva Offline
CoS Reverend

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 2762
Loc: Ormond Beach, FL
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend the premiere of "Rough Cut", a film I worked on last year*. I knew that most of the nay-sayers who gave me such a hard time during the early stages of Predatory Moon would be there.

It is hard to describe how wonderful it was for me to watch those nay-sayers eating so much crow.

People that I didn't even know were introducing themselves to me and telling me how much they've heard about my film and the excitement that seems to be surrounding it.

The folks that I expected to stay clear of me did in fact surprise me by coming over and talk to me, all offering kudos based on everything they've been hearing about how my project has been going.

Needless to say, I very much enjoyed the evening.


*Although I honestly can't reccommend the film "Rough Cut" for anyone's viewing pleasure. Seriously, it was wretched.
_________________________
Rev. Shiva Rodriguez
Shiva's World / Headless Historicals / Siren Productions Media / Predatory Moon

"The ugliest of trades have their moments of pleasure. Now, if I were a grave-digger, or even a hangman, there are some people I could work for with a great deal of enjoyment." - Douglas Jerrold

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#492038 - 09/27/13 07:12 PM Re: Leadership with Humility [Re: Shiva]
Julian Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 20
It sounds like you lead through your passion for the project. I'll sooner follow a passionate leader than a leader "qualified" by the standards set forth before him.

I follow "qualified" leaders everyday, with as much passion for their job as I have (which is none, unfortunately). It's truely a wonder how we manage to accomplish some of the things we do; we do it all angrily, and stressfully - were we lead by someone with passion, we could feed off of it, and share in that energy.

I would have loved to have been a part of that.

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#492537 - 10/20/13 12:56 AM Re: Leadership with Humility - Follow up [Re: Shiva]
Blue and cool Offline


Registered: 10/19/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Nigeria
You have a beautiful mind and leaders with such minds are passionate about what they do. As a dirctor, letting your crew see the passionate side of the movie drives ethusism in them; making them want to see the ending from the beginning. Nice.

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#492586 - 10/22/13 07:01 AM Re: Leadership with Humility [Re: Shiva]
Jon H Offline


Registered: 10/21/13
Posts: 1
Loc: Sanford Florida
Shiva you hit the nail on the head with this post. Being in that crew house was one of the best times I've had. As she said, having so many people who are all so diverse not tear one anothers throats out was a site. Shiva and her family placed themselves at the center of this project and people just gravitated to them. Her leadership is very much unique and rare. The crew and actors always wanted to push themselves and gave all they could. Your leadership created a family among some of us and Nicole and I are thankful.

Might I add that its inspiring to work with someone such as yourself and to learn not only about the film industry but the CoS. Thanks again for your guidance

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