Always Wear Clean Underwear: Golden Rules are Golden for a Reason!

Photo-Jul-18-10-41-22During the Digital Days Conference that I attended in February at the Electronic Arts Campus in Burnaby, British Columbia, Claùde Parè was the opening speaker on the first day… and let me tell you; he helped start the conference off with a bang!

His talk was called, The Rules of Cinema: Rated ‘R’… and he was just amazing!

Now, as you may have gleaned in previous posts, I’m a big fan of Jessica Sitomer‘s seminars that she gives here in Vancouver each year.  She travels everywhere, so take a look and see if she is coming to talk in your area.  One of the things Jessica says when going for a job interview is, “When some one asks, ‘How do you feel you excel at your job?’, find a way to tell them by using a story about you doing your job.”  Draw the people in around you with more than just an, ‘Oh, I think I am great organizer’.  You could say, “On Tron I had the challenge of bringing multiple departments together each morning before the cast arrived to start the process of getting dressed.  The specialty costume took an hour or longer from start to finish to dress the cast and once on, they were a challenge to remove quickly. A Sound Assist was needed to wire the suit before we started testing of the lighting systems and a costume tech was needed to asst sound…”

You get the idea.

Well, if Claùde Parè came into my office for a job he would get one every time!  Claude is the king of this technique.  During his talk, he gave a list of pointers for all crew members on how to get work and keep working.  Each pointer was followed with a humorous story from his life that vibrantly and effectively supported each idea.  He kept the room smiling, laughing and entranced throughout his entire talk.  At the end he even received a standing ovation.  He was truly breath of fresh air and it was as simple as using the stories of all the good and bad over his career to support honest to goodness common sense.


I thought I would share a few of them with you so that maybe, if they’re not already, we could help turn them into golden rules.  Want to get a job and keep a job?   Keep these in mind:


“You never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.”

When you show up, show up!  Don’t enter the set complaining about the traffic, how early it is or any thing else negative.  Let’s go with seize the day!  Come in ready to work, with a positive a willing attitude!


“Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.”

Make sure you are ready for each day.  Don’t assume… ask questions!  Even when you think you are going to get ‘The Look’, prepare yourself and take the opportunity to do it right the first time!


“When you are working, seek the next job.”

I take from this, work everyday as if you have to earn tomorrow’s opportunity, or earn the next job!  We costumers share the names of other great costumers… we also are very aware of the not-so-great.  When I get a day call on my set, I am watching… always!  Not that much experience?  No problem… I am more that willing to help a person who is willing and ready to work.  But a negative work attitude is just unnecessary and will get you nowhere.  I like it when I hear no complaints about a job a day call costumer is asked to do, and I love hearing that day calls are positive and hard workers from the other costumers who are working with them.

Questions and Answers signpost

“Trust but verify.”

This is essential for us.  If you are supervising, make sure your communication is clear.  Realize that skills listed on a resume may not have been practiced for some time.  If one of your costumers says they can do a task, trust that they can, and… if you want it done in a certain way… make sure you explain and demonstrate the task how you would like it to be done.   If you ask the right questions of your crew, communicate expectations and demonstrations clearly, tasks will be done right the first time.


“Good, fast, cheap… pick 2!”

You can never have it all!  Just remember that if you want it fast you will get it, but it will not be great or it will cost you.  This is where F&D (fast and dirty) comes from!


“Quality remains, price is forgotten.”

This is really for the heads of departments.  What is always remembered is the look of the show.  Trying to bring in a show under budget rather than using the budget to do the best job you possibly can isn’t going to get you the next job.  Don’t bring it in for under budget if you can take the look of a show to the next level.  Use you budget but use it responsibly.  The question will always remain; could it have looked better if you had used the money?


The Great Houdini!

“It’s always fun to work with talented people.”

Remember; we have been hired to do the job because we are talented at what we do.  Use that talent and share it with others.  If you are new… learn from what others do!


“If it was easy anyone could do it.”

HA!  This speaks for it self.  I love to hear,  “I would trade you your job for the day, I could use a rest.”  I always say, okay tomorrow you start in my truck, I’ll trade you!  Funny, nobody has every taken me up on that offer!


“Just do your job.”

Focus on your job.  Don’t say you can do something else if you can’t.  It makes you looks bad.  Always be willing to help, but if something is new to you, make it clear that you will have to be shown what to do!  You will come out on top if you are willing, but not if you fail to complete a task you said you could do.

To bad that Claùde isn’t in Costumes!  Well maybe best he isn’t, I would probably just want to hang out and hear his stories all day… I’d never get any work done!

Get the job, work to keep the job… and the next job will be that much closer!

Enjoy the laugh, and keep on working!

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