Boss Management thoughts?

Jay Ashworth

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Feb 7, 2014
Location
St Pete FL USA
We're doing TV now! :)

As is pretty common in the Age of Rona, many of the events at a college I work overhire for have moved partly or entirely to live stream. While I've been on their overhire list for 5 years or so now, primarily as a sound and playback guy, I've lit a couple shows, and SM'd once or twice, and worked the deck a few times, in addition to the customary set and strike.

And being an IT guy by trade, I set up their Zoneminder system for both security and situational awareness (though we're obviously not using it much for the latter just now...)

My supervisor got hired a couple weeks before me, but had a decade of touring theatre experience. My top boss is pushing 70, and his experience goes back to Joffrey II when he was in his... teens? 20s?

But none of that experience is in TV.

My own background includes some actual formal edumacation in broadcasting, as well as practical experience going back to about 1986 or so, in a couple commercial environments, as well as 20 years of community access TV, sitting in all seats, but mostly directing.

And now, I'm cutting too much for him. In straight plays. It's jarring. Could I use more 1-sec dissolves?

In Tennessee Williams. And Christopher Durang.

Any thoughts, here, folks?

[ And this is on top of, in the same day, blowing me off when I noted that 2 actors were pushed into the dark by a misplaced set piece. "No they weren't. Shush." In front of the producing department head. Clearly, I'm cranky enough about the whole thing to even talk about it. I'm pretty sure nobody not already involved can identify any of the parties, and everyone is, of course, invited not to try... ]
 

FMEng

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I'm not sure what the question is. Only do the work if you want to.

It would help if there's a clear line between who calls the shots of what happens on stage, and who is in charge of how the video production is shot and edited. It's nearly impossible to do video if three people are arguing about edits. There needs to be a level of trust, so you can do the work efficiently. They also need to realize the video is more documentary of a play rather than a directed movie, due to the amount of time the latter takes to produce. Movies take years in post production, so expecting that level of production isn't realistic. Your time has to be valued and the expectations have to be reasonable.

Another detail they need to understand is that the camera sees differently than the human eye. Stage lighting that looks good to the eye might look like crap on camera. Light for the camera.

Welcome to the video club. I'm the Chief Engineer of a public radio station, so my focus has been electronics, RF, and audio for three decades. When the pandemic hit, my church stopped in person services, and I got the call to figure out how to fill the void. I scrambled to learn how to shoot, edit, and upload videos. I never had any formal training in video work. A background in photography and high school film-making class helped quite a bit. I started with a borrowed camera, and a squeaky, $40 tripod, to owning several thousand dollars worth of equipment, and I now have hundreds of hours of editing experience. Thankfully, the Pastors and musicians are good collaborators, and they don't expect perfection.
 

Jay Ashworth

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Feb 7, 2014
Location
St Pete FL USA
Yeah; he's done some editing, but no live switching, I don't think. And while he knows about lighting for the camera, he often doesn't.

Short version: I don't tell him how to light. He needs to not tell me how to direct.

But the place was about 60% of my income, pre-rona. So...
 

MRW Lights

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NYC
So... there seem to be a couple of things going on here. It sounds like the feedback is that there are too many cuts? I don't think adding a dissolve will help you with that. My next thought is if you were to watch any television show/movie/live production count how many dissolves do you see? Outside of tops/tails and push-throughs in award shows and sports, we don't really do dissolves in on-screen productions anymore. They were once all the rage, but the world moves too fast for those now and they feel unnatural.

You might try... wider frames to avoid as many cuts, or to allow them to be less jarring. The response may also come from flip-flopping the image. A general rule of thumb is never to reverse the frame of a shot. Meaning you can't switch from a Left to a Right profile without going through a center shot. But like all production rules, it's only a rule if you follow it. :cool:
 

Jay Ashworth

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St Pete FL USA
Yep; we both went to the same school. :cool:

And I'd love to have enough camera cable, much less cameras, to break the second rule. But yes, he apparently feels there's too much cutting going on. It is, as much as anything, a question of whether it's reasonable for the executive producer to be sticking his taste/judgement into the direction.

Or, as the title suggests, how to make him stop without quitting 60% of my annual income, doing things I actually enjoy.
 

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
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Yep; we both went to the same school. :cool:

And I'd love to have enough camera cable, much less cameras, to break the second rule. But yes, he apparently feels there's too much cutting going on. It is, as much as anything, a question of whether it's reasonable for the executive producer to be sticking his taste/judgement into the direction.

Or, as the title suggests, how to make him stop without quitting 60% of my annual income, doing things I actually enjoy.
If y’all come from the same school and know each other well, crack a few beers, have a fire, and air your grievances. If that doesn’t work fall in line so as you are told make suggestions here and there when something doesn’t go right without being shitty about it and move on hoping it’s well received. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you especially during these times.
 

FMEng

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A single camera shoot is tough to do well. It's easy to fall into zooming in/out too much, especially with longer shots. I try to think ahead about what I need to show. If I zoom in for a close up now, how do I get to what I need to see later, in a graceful way?

Perhaps you need to record in longer chunks, so that there are fewer edits. There are times when quick cuts change the pacing and heighten emotions. There are times when longer shots with fewer cuts are more appropriate.
 

MRW Lights

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NYC
Another question... are you streaming live? If not are you also ISO recording each camera? That gives you options in the future to "fix" or change cuts / remove cuts if need be. That can be a small investment in a few recorders that gives you A LOT of power in post.

We run 20 record heads on a server backed by a video router of 576 Inputs and Outputs... and yes... we're out of I/O and looking to add more 😁
 

Lynnchesque

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East Bay, CA
Sometimes ya gotta shrug and remember that it's not your show. If the client wants it to look cheap and tacky, you can advise them otherwise, but if that's what they want, that's what you give them.
Are there any other creative directors that could provide input, ie be on your side?
 

Jay Ashworth

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Feb 7, 2014
Location
St Pete FL USA
Sometimes ya gotta shrug and remember that it's not your show. If the client wants it to look cheap and tacky, you can advise them otherwise, but if that's what they want, that's what you give them.
Are there any other creative directors that could provide input, ie be on your side?
Nope. He is God.

So my only choice is to Nate Spelvin it. Cause I'll turn out shitty looking TV, but not with my name on it.

I have made a career telling people "no, you won't do it the wrong way", and making it stick. Hard to change that habit 4 decades in.
 

Jay Ashworth

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St Pete FL USA
If y’all come from the same school and know each other well, crack a few beers, have a fire, and air your grievances. If that doesn’t work fall in line so as you are told make suggestions here and there when something doesn’t go right without being shitty about it and move on hoping it’s well received. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you especially during these times.
I was suggesting to MRW that *he* and I went to the same school about what television is supposed to look like.

The Boss is about 20 years older than me; we would not have shared any schools.
 

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
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I was suggesting to MRW that *he* and I went to the same school about what television is supposed to look like.

The Boss is about 20 years older than me; we would not have shared any schools.
When you said same school I assumed same time. Regardless the options still stand. Don’t give up 60% for pride. It’s hard to eat it but wait a few year when things get back to normal to buck the system. Cause even if you do someone new will fall in line do what is told and it will stay the same. Change is slow unfortunately be glad you have a chance to give small input.
 
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TimMc

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I was suggesting to MRW that *he* and I went to the same school about what television is supposed to look like.

The Boss is about 20 years older than me; we would not have shared any schools.
That means he'll be gone 20 years before you. Time is on your side.
 
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So, just so I'm being clear here, I get being frustrated with your work and who you're working with. I'm a carpenter, a rigger, and sort of an electrician and, in the past two semesters, I've had to become an IT expert and videographer (or, at least, a gaffer and a best boy) practically overnight in order for the "TD who's not building any scenery" to stay relevant and keep a job. So I get it. I do. But a lot of us have had to learn new skills in order to stay relevant and keep working this past year; and not just us backstage. And WE'RE THE LUCKY ONES cause I know for every one of us there's at least two who haven't been working at all in their trained fields.

So, and let me say it again, I GET YOUR FRUSTRATION; but: No one here can give you what it feels like you're reaching for - we can't tell you, "You're right and your boss is a jerk."

You know what to do here; it's already been suggested: Adapt; or don't. Talk to the guy as openly and as non-confrontational as you can be at this point and air your grievances. If he tells you to shove it and "just do your job" then you've got a choice: Do your job, as your boss has laid it out for you, or leave.

Do those two options suck? Hell yeah, they suck. But there you are. I wanted to spend this year teaching my students to weld but instead I'm "stuck" learning the difference between SDI and HDMI and why one is better for that long cable runs than the other and why that even matters. And I'll take that choice all the way to the bank compared to the alternative. Maybe I don't have much pride left these days.

When people who are unprepared for massive changes feel they have been thrust into circumstances they do not feel qualified for, one easy way to deal with the Imposter Syndrome is to micro-manage others so they feel they're contributing. It sounds to me, a guy outside your situation entirely, that both you AND your boss(es) aren't particularly happy about your circumstances and what you're being told to do instead of what you're used to. That sucks, for what it's worth. The best you can do is make peace with your circumstances and those you have a rapport working with and hope the lot of you can come to an understanding.

Or, you know, don't.
 
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Jay Ashworth

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St Pete FL USA
Even though I am, and he is. :)

You're not wrong, Jake. And yes, I *could* have a job that involved a bucket hat, a shovel, and my name embroidered on my shirt.

And yes, it's somewhat of a come-down from 40 years of professional work. But yes, it pays the bills.

And, on the merits, no one else who looked at it seemed to think I was cutting too much. :-}

[ I do, though, feel like I want to reiterate that this wasn't about *me* learning new skills; I've been directing for 25 years. It was about people who *don't do that* telling me how to do it. Slightly different problem. ]
 

macsound

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I have occasional difficulties with management as well and sometimes it's about timing.
Does he have good days and bad days? Or maybe better put - smart days and dumb days?

I've been more able to adapt with personalities when they're constant or at least predictable. My current boss is very fun and jovial except when there's a stressful meeting coming up in a week. I can anticipate that. When you have a boss who's an unknown, who flies off the handle or makes stupid remarks for no good reason, that's beyond tough.

Conversations are also tough. Good leaders are taught how to talk, how to deflect, and how to exhibit leadership to those who don't tow the line. What ends up happening is those conversations become dead ends and you feel worse for speaking out. But ultimately, do you actually feel worse because you spoke out? Or do you feel worse because the person you were trying to level with didn't reciprocate and ultimately, you aren't any worse off after the conversation than you were before?

My general solution is to schedule a meeting. If there are more people on the team than just you, probe them for their feelings and see if you could make the meeting more about the team's desire to improve performance and predict solutions and less about your particular issues. Having specific examples of solutions you'd like to have solved is good, but don't make it seem like you're complaining about a very particular statement or day that rubbed you the wrong way, focus on the resolution you'd see fit that aligns with theme of the issue .

Anyway, personalities have become more important to HR than skills in most hiring practices because of things like this. Maybe this guy needs someone who's just a button pusher, maybe he needs someone who will challenge him. Either way, best of luck.


Also Jacob, SDI, HDBaseT, or NDI for long runs. Not HDMI, even though it might work, sometimes.
 

TheaterEd

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I personally have always been a fan of Malicious Compliance, especially when it refers to things I disagree with. Do whatever they asked to a sarcastically high degree, and wait. You don't like cuts? Great! One camera for the entire run will save us on an additional op, I'll just monitor the audio. Oh? Now there aren't enough cuts? Excellent, I'll go back to exactly what I was doing with maybe One fewer.

I especially enjoy doing this to one of my friends that I work with. He is the director and I am the LD more often than not. Generally, he will tell me what he is looking for, and I will do what I do to achieve the look. But sometimes he specifically tells me locations and colors which I then do EXACTLY as instructed. Then I hear a good old "That looks Awful" and reply with "yep, but it's what you asked for. What me to do what you actually wanted instead"? It helps set boundaries and keeps me entertained on a 10 out of 12.

Not HDMI, even though it might work, sometimes.
I have one particular 50' HDMI cable that doesn't like to send signals uphill.....
Flat ground from camera to board = no problem.
Camera on the ground to board on top of the booth = No Can Do.
Camera on top of the booth to control board on the ground = No Problem

The uphill theory is idotic, but has yet to be proven false. And yes, we have flipped the cable to make sure it isn't a one-way. Not trying to highjack the thread, but too funny not to share.
 

Ancient Engineer

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Jay, it always stinks when you have been hired for a "creative" job and the EP feels that you are too creative... It is that razor narrow path of how much are you willing to compromise your personal artistic standards and still keep your name on the thing. I left full-time motion picture work for these very reasons. I walked off the last DP job I did because the EP was very vigorously directing me as the steadicam operator. The "actual" director didn't have my back about the framing and path we'd worked on for about a week. So, the International Enough Line was finally crossed. I dismounted the camera and packed up my rig all while the EP is shouting at me at full volume. I said nothing and went home. Four hours later the "actual" producer calls me at home to try to beg me back. (apparently some portion of the crew left after I did) Suddenly my rate card had changed dramatically, so much so that I was unaffordable. Hooray. Creative career change #271. Losing the bread and butter was a challenge, but in the long run I am glad I did it. I am not suggesting such a path for you. However, I am suggesting that developing where the International Enough Line lives for you is important. Pre-think about the choices available when you get carried over that line. Maybe something like: "Ya know, I really like doing this (event), but if you are not happy with my work, I am not sure we can go forward creativly." Anyhow, I think you are one hoopy frood who knows where his towel is, so the work will come...
 

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