Video media is at the peak of popularity at the moment. It dominates content on social media, and visual streaming services have become the primary focus for entertainment. The most recent study found that YouTube alone pulls in 163.75 million monthly users. Not to mention this popularity combined with the accessibility of tools and tutorials has resulted in a creative, competitive production environment. It’s an exciting time for filmmakers of all kinds.
Yet, there are still challenges, not the least of which is finding the right talent to staff a professional production crew. It’s a popular field, with no shortage of interesting projects vying for the best and brightest cinematographers, production coordinators, editors, and designers. Add to this the fact that the methods for identifying and hiring crew members are always developing, and you have the makings of a confusing and frustrating experience.
So, how can you as a producer or director best approach the production hiring process? We’re going to review four of the trending approaches today, along with tips on how to make the most of them.
1) Social Media
There’s no denying that social media can be something of a mixed bag. For all the positive connections it facilitates, there are areas where it is nothing less than a dumpster fire. However, when used carefully, it can be a useful tool to staff your video production.
The most obvious aspect here is it provides open access to the filmmaking community. There are opportunities to reach out to trusted creators and seek their recommendations for talent. This is often the case with the animation sector, where call-outs for portfolios and recommendations are a common form of recruitment tactic. This approach not only essentially utilizes crowdsourcing to give you access to talent you may not have otherwise reached, it also benefits from the input of industry professionals and leaders whose opinions you trust.
If you’re recruiting for a documentary or news-based video production, social media also happens to be a valuable hotbed of independent production creators. Alongside the big outlets that are increasingly capitalizing on these platforms as the public’s primary source of news, it also represents the democratization of journalism, with citizen journalists posting content. The prevalence of mobile devices and accessibility of editing software has meant more people can demonstrate their creative news and documentary storytelling skills to a global audience. While mobile journalism certainly has drawbacks in terms of trustworthy reporting, it’s worth taking the time to review independent content producers on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube when you’re recruiting a crew.
2) Applicant Tracking Systems
In the past, software that made the recruitment process more efficient was limited to larger production studios’ human resources (HR) departments. However, the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning processes has resulted in an open marketplace of recruitment software options. As such, applicant tracking systems (ATS) are now an accessible and practical option for hiring video production staff.
The primary benefit of this approach is its automated filtering. This is particularly useful when you’re advertising positions in an online environment and can expect to receive hundreds if not thousands of resumes from across the world. You provide the ATS software with information about the position and skills you’re looking for. It then scans all the applications for relevant keywords and context, ranking the top resumes for you to review further. Some also have automated options to schedule interviews.
That said, when utilizing this software it’s important to understand there are limitations. While ATS is certainly getting smarter, it still operates by looking for specific types of data. Applicants who are savvy about this can beat the system, as it were, by amplifying the keyword context, or even by tailoring their resume to your position advertisement, which is a great tactic. Yet, not all the top talent will be as focused on pitching their resume to an AI. Therefore, it’s also important to take time to take a brief look at all resumes with your own eyes to make sure you’re not missing any great candidates.
3) Outreach Performance
It has been the case for some time now that the flow of traffic for production recruitment is in a single direction. Candidates apply for a job with you, with all the effort to impress coming from them and directed toward you as the producer or director. This isn’t particularly surprising — after all, this industry has frequently been one in which there are very few positions and an embarrassment of riches of enthusiastic candidates. Yet, it has become clear this isn’t necessarily the most effective approach. One of the current trends for crew recruitment is about committing to regular and active outreach.
This involves going beyond looking for people who are unemployed or on the hunt for the next gig. Professionals in video production are most often freelancers, meaning that while they may not be immediately available, this doesn’t mean to say they aren’t open to being approached for a future project. Get talking to professionals both in-person and online. Go to film festivals, conferences, and meetings. Scour profiles on LinkedIn and ProductionHUB. In all cases, be prepared to pitch your project to these talented technicians rather than just asking if they’re interested in applying for your job. Communicate why you want them to be a part of the crew and how you can see their abilities fitting in.
4) Remote Hiring
Especially since COVID-19, there has been an increased focus on video production crew safety. The result of this is a trend to utilizing remote methods both in hiring and whenever possible during the job itself. There is a tendency for producers to think a film is best served with everyone being in the same place at the same time — and there are some advantages to hiring a local crew. However, this also closes you off to diverse talent from across the country or even the world.
Take time to consider what roles can be performed wherever the crew member happens to be in the world. Editing, writing, marketing, casting, and animation are all increasingly being performed from the creator’s own home. Not to mention that remote communications tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams can help multiple team members to collaborate in real-time even if they’re not in the same location.
In circumstances when you do need the team to be on location, it’s still worth performing the interview process remotely. Candidates may be still engaged with other projects, or may simply not find it practical or convenient to travel to meet in person when they are not yet actively engaged in the project. As such, your willingness to be flexible by accepting video calls can connect you to a richer variety of potential crew members.
When your video production has the right crew, you have the opportunity to create something truly unique and interesting. It’s therefore wise to capitalize on the tools of our digital landscape and explore the hiring trends that can open you up to skilled, diverse collaborators. It’s not always easy, but some understanding of the tools and techniques can send you in the right direction.