Seasoned producers are like symphony conductors. They’re the only person on set with awareness for every single part (or instrument) and they know how to bring out the right parts at the right time. While the individual instruments can focus on their individual parts, the best conductors are intimately in tune with every part. They’re like producers, who, before they even set up a project, have the experience to know how long the project will take, what kind of budget will be required, and what kind of team they’ll need to assemble to get the job done. An international shoot can throw even the most experienced professional off balance though. That said, it doesn’t have to be painful.
Crew Connection’s project owners have daily contact with both crews and clients and they’ve had their hands in shoots from Texas to Taiwan. They say these five considerations can make hiring an international crew a pain, but never fear, they offer three solutions, too.
Five pitfalls of hiring an international crew:
- Time zone differences: Anytime you work with someone in a different timezone, communication takes extra effort. Internationally, that effort can become Herculean. You may be on the exact opposite end of the clock as those you’re working with and still need to be available for meetings and fire fighting. Odd hours and late-night or early-morning emails are a given. Time differences can even affect post-production. Shipping files on drives is still the most reliable form of transferring footage but leaves plenty of room for error and shipping delays.
- Local laws and regulations: Different countries have different rules so something easy in one place may be a no-go in another. Crews don’t want to adopt the responsibility of making sure what you’re asking them to do is in line with local rules. And it’s not really their instrument anyway. It’s the conductor’s job to make sure you’re covered.
- Vetting: Anyone can pick up a camera and point it at a scene, but we all know it takes a different level of skill to make sure the result meets your standard and represents your brand well. Demo reels and work examples, which are crucial to your ability to judge the quality, may not be as easy to find on some international crews.
- Extra expenses: In addition to travel costs, working internationally means extra expenses in exchange rates, wiring fees, shipping costs, and more. It all adds up. A lot of international crews also require a deposit (or even the full payment) before the shoot begins. Additionally, you may need to hire a bigger crew than you’re used to. What is a one-person job in your experience could be a three-person job abroad.
- Extra risk: As a rule, you take on more responsibility and therefore more risk in international shoots. It doesn’t need to be a deterrent in itself, but it’s good to be aware.
Tips to make international crewing easier:
Yes, it really can be a pain, but there are some ways to set yourself up for success.
- Over-communicate: Ask a ton of questions. Talk with crews about rates, equipment, the timeline, which crew members are required to be on set, etc. Talk to the local film commission or equivalent (if applicable) and get all permits and releases before you send money or start filming.
- Learn international business etiquette: It takes some effort to learn a few business etiquette basics, but it will save you some trouble later to have an awareness of local business practices and labor laws upfront.
- Hire the right partners: A crewing service (like Crew Connection) can make sure you have a qualified crew while also handling all the fees, addressing the time zone differences, and easing the language barriers.
The bottom line
Doing it all on your own can be challenging, but with a little extra work upfront and the right partners in the effort, even international shoots can be as smooth as French silk.
About Crew Connection
Crew Connection is a custom software solution to an age-old issue—sourcing media pros in unfamiliar areas. And yes, we’ve got international crews! Our database is stocked with freelance media pros from around the globe. The best part? Our in-house video industry veterans have vetted each and every one by hand.
Know what you need but aren’t sure where to start? Find and book a vetted media professional from Denver to New Delhi in minutes with Crew Connection. If you’re not quite sure what you need or if we have it, contact one of our crew coordinators to get matched up with the perfect drone operator in Stockholm or a video editor in St. Thomas. Need live assistance or want to add quality jobs to your pipeline? Our crew coordinators are on call around the clock. Sign Up on Crew Connection, call 303-526-4900, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.