5 Unsurprising Reasons Friends Are a Horrible Movie Crew

Let me guess, you have the perfect movie idea. You even have your “final” version of your script.  You even have funding! Now it’s time to get some buddies together, form a movie crew and shoot your movie, right?

Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong, shooting something for fun with friends is great! Let me say it again. Shooting something, for FUN, with friends is great.

drunk movie crew

5 Unsurprising Reasons Friends Are a Horrible Movie Crew

While there’s no point in filmmaking if you don’t enjoy it, doing it with plans to make a profit is serious business.  If your movie crew is all or mostly your best buds, it can lead to several problems.

1. You Run Out Of Money Before Shoot Day

You did your homework and created a budget to make and market the movie.  Good job! Now that you’re ready to shoot, it’s time to buy or rent equipment.   Your friend shooting the movie wants you to buy a Red 4k camera package. You planned on using the DSLR you bought last year, and rent some good lenses for a week. “But the art will suffer!” he says. Don’t listen to him.

You have to stick to your budget. If you don’t, something else very important will need to be sacrificed. Then you’ll end up with beautiful footage, on day 1. That’s the only day you’ll get, because now you can’t afford to pay the actors.

2. You Don’t Assign Duties Up Front

Micro or No budget filmmaking requires that everyone on your movie crew performs multiple duties.

Your actors will need to hold the boom mike when not acting. Your sound mixer will need to do craft services. Your cameraman will do hair and makeup.

It’s YOUR responsibility to ensure that everybody on the movie crew understands your expectations. You have to get in their face if they’re texting when they should be dressing your set. And if you don’t fix these problems right away, that negative vibe will infect your movie crew. Let it go too long, and fist can start flying on set.

3. You Turn The Set Into A Party

You’re 3 days into shooting and so far everything’s going great. There’s 5 more days of shooting, but tonight the football game is on. And since you and your “movie crew” always watch football (and get hammered) drunk – It makes sense to continue the tradition!

So your buddies on the movie crew has the brilliant idea of bringing a TV to set. They also bring a cooler filled with beer. And while watching the game can be a nice break from the hot lights, drinking booze on set is ALWAYS a bad idea (and downright dangerous.)

Save the beer for the wrap party. Besides, you’re on a tight schedule, with no time for hangovers.

Make sure everyone keeps it professional until you wrap.

4. You Overlook A More Talented Stranger

It is awesome if your best friend owns a grip truck and happens to be a lighting wizard. That won’t be the case with the majority of your friends on your movie crew.

To have the best movie crew you can afford, look outside your existing network.

Craigslist and other websites have several potential crew members waiting for you. Get to know other good filmmakers and have them refer people they’ve worked with in the pase. Microbudget filmmakers are excited to refer good talent. And you need the talent to succeed.

This goes for post production too (assuming you make it to post!) An experienced editor is better than a friend who just figured out how iMovie works. To smooth things over, convince your friend to be a free assistant to the editor.

5. You Put On Your Big Boy or Big Girl Pants

You can run into similar problems with people you just met. With your friends though, it’s harder to be the boss. Make it easy on yourself and pick the right friends to be on your movie crew. Don’t be afraid to hold out for the appropriate professionals.

Invite the rest of your movie crew to the premiere. And if you would like more info on this and other aspects of filmmaking, click here to grab your free filmmaker checklist.

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254535-DougAdams-1Douglas S. Adams is an Independent Motion Picture Producer and Actor based in Baltimore, MD. He wants you to learn from his no-budget filmmaking successes and failures, start and FINISH your movie, and get people to buy it. You can read his blog and learn more at www.alphadogproductions.net



  1. Alejo Lalaleo says

    My crews alwalys are full of friends, result that I got as friends some of the major talents in my city, they deliver the best work with budget or not, because we have the experience. We work hard and play hard.

  2. Miles says

    Great article and very key points to consider before i partake on my first feature next year. Also extra points for being from Maryland, the greatest state in the universe.

  3. Lance Blackwell says

    I’m not an agent for these guys, but meet my new crew. I just leased them;

    They show up when you do.
    They take perfect direction
    They are mechanical in their precision
    They don’t need feeding


  4. Keith says

    I learned some additional reasons….the HARD way:

    * “I don’t really have to take direction because you’re just a friend and I’m doing you a favor by being here. I’ll do my job however I want to.

    * They may cut out early, they may arrive late. They may be texting and inattentive the whole time. They may cancel at the last minute or they may not show at all.

    * Friends may secretly resent helping out, which results in showing up in a bad mood, having trouble taking direction, or grumbling and protesting every time there is a new take.

    * Sometimes friends are over-eager to help out, and they slow up production and work against the director’s vision by constantly coming up with their own ideas and exploring them.

    It is surprising how unprofessional even a pro can be when they’re being paid like an amateur. 😉

    Never again! Ya learn!

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