There have been many times when the film project you’re working on faces delivery, and the hours get longer, production demands that you work weekends and evenings and all that. All the while, people on another project sitting next to you are twidding their thumbs, or worse, your team mates conclude and are gone, leaving you with more to do.
Everyone wonders – why not bring over those less busy people, or extend people’s contracts? I’ve seen it from ‘the other side’, and I think I understand it better. A crew schedule directly reflects the project budget.They can work an existing crew harder, OT (if its paid) can be fudged around, and that horrible not-quite legal ‘COMP’ time (or its UK equivalent, the even worse named ‘TOIL’) comes from the company budget, not the project. The minute a producer extends crew or hires more people, that means someone is spending more visible money than was budgeted, and questions are asked, numbers are questioned, and producers get squirrely. It relies on the malleability and acquienscence of your existing crew to be worked harder, without complaint or revolt… after all it’s rarely their fault that production run late – it’s always a director or studio who is left to make endless changes, assets not locked until the 11th hour.
My least happy times of recent years have seen me strung between these two problems, limbs stretched to breaking point.