Stress management in Focus Pullers

or: “How to survive the slings and arrows of outrageous douchebags.”

Broadly speaking, a Focus Puller (or “1st AC” to those of you on the other side of The Pond) can be one of two personality types: Calm or Shouty.

Calm gets the job done and still has time to enjoy their work, have a laugh and be someone you want to work with on the next job.

Shouty gets the job done in the nick of time, makes you feel grateful that they bothered to turn up at all and still finds the time to spit on Runners, piss-off the Makeup girls, anger the Grips and whore their arse to production to get on the next job.

It’s as cut and dry as that.

Nobody likes an asshole, except other assholes – misery loves company.

The only people who like Shouty are Production pissants and ball-less DoP’s who can’t fight their own battles. For everyone else on set, these guys are a pain in the behind.

And that’s not me using “guys” in a non-gender-specific way. Most of these idiots are men. And when I say “men” I mean the boorish, misogynist kind, not the George Clooney kind – so not really men at all, then. More like men-shaped douchebags with a Napoleon complex.

(and breathe…)

Picture the scene: the camera trainee is doing their best, but that best isn’t good enough. Now, anyone who’s been in The Industry more than five minutes can see this poor kid knocking their pipe out to get the job done, but their inexperience is getting the better of them.

So, the correct way of handling this, were you this kid’s supervisor, would be to pull them aside, tell them to get it together and raise their game, then offer whatever help and training the kid needs to do the job. As much carrot-and-stick as is needed to get on with the day.

The douchebag way of dealing with it: you tear the kid a new arsehole, on set, at the top of your voice, in front of the rest of the crew.


You’ve just made the kid cry and everyone now thinks you’re a twat – congratufrigginlations, douchebag.

I have seen this happen time and time again. In 14 years of being on set, I have bollocked only a handful of people. Every one of those instances has been because the person I was yelling at was presenting a danger to their safety and possibly the safety of others. A proportionate response to a situation. I would never bollock someone just because they were inexperienced.

What kind of asshole does that?

I’ll tell you what kind of asshole…

The kind of person who yells on set is clearly someone who is deeply insecure about themselves and their job. These people know that they are talentless and inexperienced. They know they’re punching above their weight. They get to work, every day, worried that they’ll drop the ball and be found out for the the shallow frauds that they really are.

This pathology isn’t unique to the film-set. You can find it in any professional situation, the world over.

The worst thing about this behaviour on-set, is that it’s not only accepted, it’s practically expected! This is a cycle of violence. I’ve been there when Runners/Trainees are getting yelled at and I’ve had to tell the Shouty fuckwit to calm-down. Shouty finishes their rant, sends the poor crying tyke on their way and then rounds on me saying: “That’s how I learnt. If they can’t handle it, there’s a hundred more where they came from.”

What a colossal wanker.

People who abuse their children were, by and large, abused when they were kids. Just ’cause daddy never loved you, that doesn’t justify violent behaviour towards your own progeny. Just because you were once the bitch, don’t try and play the butch.

If you are ever the whipping-boy/girl for one of these pathetic bullies: just let it all wash over you. Turn the other cheek – seriously! Learn all you can from them. Make them think that you look up to them and they’ll teach you how to do your job, by showing you all their flaws, their bad habits. Do not quit the show you’re on. If you’ve got enough balls to get into this industry in the first place, then these idiots are small-beer. They are beneath you. They are worth neither your tears nor your hatred. If you hate them, you’re giving something of yourself. Hate them and they’ve won.

Get as angry as you like. Take it out on no-one. Smoke a fag, turn the radio up, drink, get laid, get out of your tree, play the blues – just get it out of your system and get over it.

You’ll be better, faster, stronger – calmer. You can and you will weather these storms. You’ll have a few funny anecdotes to tell on your next job and, in no time, the Shouty asshole will be asking you for a job.

Because THAT’s how you get back at them – be better than them…

…then don’t return their calls.

Whining bitches need not comment. The rest of you, feel free to name-and-shame the assholes that make this wonderful industry a little less fun to be in.


~ by mchawk on 13 June, 2008.

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