Jump to content

Got a complaint today


Recommended Posts

A producer that I hired me on 10+ commercial shoots called me today, and told me that they was told that they had some issues with the audio on the last shoot. So, first of all, let me tell you a little about the shoot. I was alone as a sound recordist as I always am and is usually expected here in the small country Im from. It was two talents and 8 clients that needed headphones. It was 4-5 different locations, and between the locations I had to gather all the headphones/HX-3 and the rest of te equipment. I was always last out and the last one to be ready as the camera dept was 3 people, and the lightcrew was several persons so they had the opertunity to travel ahead and rig the lights in the two indoor locations. In a couple of location I was not too happy with how the lavs sounded, and I was invited to the locations beforehand so some of the locations had some background noise. When I was ready with the sound for the clients and the talents miced after costume change, everyone was ready.

 

What would you do in these circumstances? In a lot of these situations where I feel like Im delaying the shoot and piss people off, Im always a little more inclined to just live with not perfect lav audio. The issues usually becomes clear when we are ready to go, everyone is finally quiet and the actors start to move around. Another big challenge is ofcourse the clothes. If the talents dont wear synthetic clothes its usually always all good. The crappy situation is that I dont know what to do with it, because these are the circumstances I have to deal with. Would you just tell the producer that you get bad sound and theres nothing you can do? After this day I got hearth arrhytmia for several weeks and decided that Im finally done with location sound.

 

Having another soundperson on the set would be great, but the sad trouth here is that they would probabily just find someone else that is willing to do it alone as that how the norm is here. I have come to the conclution that Im to tired of beeing in this situation as it is a small industry here, and its too stressfull so I have finally started studying again and will quit this industry in a couple of years. Thanks for letting me vent, and Im very interested in your takes on this kind of situations as I will have to deal with this for a couple more years. Just a final note: I have some really awsome and great experiences beeing a location sound-guy for TV production wich I love, unfortunatily I dont think I could survive economically without the commercial jobs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you fixed a problem that they would have complained about later, then you were working in their best interest.  Delicate balance. A good producer knows this.    If you knew you needed more help, and did the job under crewed then it is on you-- to a certain extent, because the producer knew to have advance crew in other depts.   Do the best job they allow you to do.  If it is a general lack of respect for location sound-- not much you can do about that.   

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just last night, we're doing a "big" scene with 100+ background actors and setting up and shooting all these little montage pieces for over three hours before they even bring the actual actors to set. The AD is super nervous. They don't even let me wire them for the camera rehearsal (which was the first time any one of us saw the action - it was a walk and talk) and then they finally permitted me to wire them on last looks. Anyone who works in film knows this is absolutely not how a set is supposed to be run. And this is not a little indie movie mind you. After the camera rehearsal, I run over to wire the two actors and the AD quietly tells me "the wires make us ready." Oh, great. I'm good and fast at wiring but I don't like the pressure of 200+ cast and crew combined waiting on me to wire actors in the wet street at midnight. I can do my job better if I'm not rushing and not feeling that pressure, let alone the fact that I could have wired them 30 minutes prior at my leisure if they would just let me. Had they been wired before the camera rehearsal, the first take would not have been MY rehearsal and the sound would have been better. By the way, this example was only the beginning of an agonizing night.

 

The bottom line is: it takes as long as it takes. That's my canned answer when a green AD asks me how long something will take. It's important not to feel that pressure that causes us to make poor choices or little mistakes which snowball into sound issues. If you are not provided with an environment that allows you to succeed, then there is only so much you can do. In these cases, open communication with the people in charge is what will protect you, if anything. Keep a report so there is a record. What allows me to sleep at night is knowing that I tried my best and stayed cool under pressure. I often think of it like: anyone else could have been hired to be in this situation right now. It just happens to be me, so I might as well do my best here.

 

Because you mention the heart arrhythmia - it's just a job. It's just a commercial. We are not saving lives. Try to take a step back and laugh at the absurdity of it all. My last line of defense when I'm so beaten down and everything is a disaster is this (and it's cynical but it works): the check will clear. The day will end in a few hours and you will be paid. I work mostly in film and TV and with film especially, I have a very high level of respect for the medium and the process (which is why I'm in this business) and when I go to work, I usually see that process completely trampled over and sometimes I take it personally. I try to remember that they are not spending all this money and effort for my benefit. I am just one of many foot soldiers on the ground trying to make their vision come to life.

 

Lastly, on the clothing noise - again, take your time wiring and do it right. Some outfits just will not sound good. Then, if they won't let you clip it to the outside (if it's that kind of job), let them know that the lavs are not going to sound good and be upfront and vocal about it. Hopefully you can still boom in those situations and all is well. I almost always think of the boom as my primary source even if lavs sound good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Assume their is no costume dept. in that commercial, talents comes with their clothes from home. This is a red flag (IMHO).

 

Next time, tell your client - producer, to involve you at pre-production. Fix sound at pre-production cost less from post-production. Basically, demand more - set your red lines to your clients. It's not easy, but you will have less stress on set.

 

Look if you can place lav at hair; if not make your adjustments (like lighiting, make-up, hair etc). It's part of the routine of filming.

 

====

 

That's part of the job of AD. Putting pressure on you to do your job quicker. It's not just about sound dept. - they doing that to make-up, hair, lighting etc. How to handle that pressure is up to you and keep moving forward. Some people are jerks, some not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best advice I could give is to have the guts to say no to gigs that might be stressful or is just a topic you don't like.

It took me years before I finally had the guts to say no* to something that potentially could have given me lots of work in the future and would have looked nice on my portfolio.

When I finally did say no, a weight fell off my shoulders and I felt free. I never regretted it, even though my income is probably lower than it could have been.

 

* Apart from certain reality drama shows involving traffic accidents etc, I immediately said no to that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I get the impression that your producer is unhappy with clothing noise on your tracks.  Sometimes wardrobe is just noisy no matter what you do.  You can likely hear it on the boom as well.  You were seeing the wardrobe for the first time and it would seem they didn't provide choices that would be less problematical.  Feeling rushed isn't ideal especially when the clothing choices are a problem.  I think you did the best you could under the circumstances you outlined.  Lots of great advice in the previous comments.  The only thing you can do is be as prepared and organized as possible and try not to let them pressure you so much when you need more time to get things right.  You are a department head and deserve the opportunity to do your job to the best of your ability as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

26 minutes ago, Doc Justice said:

I often wonder if in the middle of a tense situation a brain surgeon would say, “relax, we’re not making television here!”

So true!

 

And being able to say "no" is to understand how valuable your services are to a prospective employer.  It is VERY powerful.

 

D.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“We get the best sound they will let us.”

 

The only thing you can do is tell your bosses the situation.  Preferably during the situation, or at least right after.  Before is best, “Hey Mr. Producer I am not being allowed to do my job, so you’re going to get bad sound.” or my personal favorite, “Hey Mr. Director  I’m not being allowed to do my job so everyone will have to loop everything.  Just thought you should know.”  If you get to them before, they might be able to help you.  For example, they can instruct the 1st AD to give you time and rehearsals.

 

But like the others said, your stress is just not appropriate.  You are going to be fine, let them stress about it if they need to.  Stepping back, this sounds like the push you needed to truly go on to what you want to do.  Congrats on the new direction!

 

Dan Izen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its the hardest thing in the world for some of us to not take these kins of things personally.  Especially what may seem like attacks.  You obviously care a great deal about your work and providing the best service you can.  One piece of advice is to weed out certain clients or situations/job that you know are high stress or not going to be good for you.  It can be very hard to say no to work, but if it means your survival and longevity in the biz, then its worth it.  The technical stuff is what it is, and you can only do your best with what you are given to work with.  Mental health is far too important, in my opinion.  Take care of yourself and hang in there.  Let this one past, with some time, you will be ok.   I hope this helps a bit.  And I know you are doing the right thing reaching out to this great community here.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

58 minutes ago, Dave Rainey said:

It can be very hard to say no to work

This is an understatement for 'some' of us. (Definitely for me.)
 

 

58 minutes ago, Dave Rainey said:

Mental health is far too important

Some of us (again, defintely me) already have issues with that, and getting shit on top of that does not help.

Saying 'NO' to some requests / clients is the healthy thing to do, but that's not always (with understatement) easy, especially since most 'bad' things tend to be on a slope, where you'll find yourself in a situation that the issue is gallons over the last drop.

I've learned this a long time ago. (I'm over 30 years in the industry.)
But, I still struggle with it almost every day, even knowing exactly what is going on.
Saying 'No' will increase your reputation, as it shows you won't do stuff that is 'not up to standard', but at the end of the month there are bills to pay.

I have no answer, except that if your mental health goes down the drain you won't be able to do anything of value for anyone, especially yourself.

hth,
Bouke

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

I think a big part of the problem is that, of all the departments, ADs and producers understand sound the least. They think it's "clip a mic on them and let's go!". The ADs hound every department to work faster. That's their job. One has to approach these demands with confident professionalism (whether you're feeling it or not), or they will eat you for breakfast.

Edited by Dplank
a little addition
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My fellow oldsters here may agree with me that in the commercial world soundies are always kind of fighting a situation in which they are seen as an extra impediment to what's going on.  I think some of this happens because so many commercials are shot MOS, so the crew +production gets out of the habit of considering sound (if they ever had that habit), and suddenly they are being slowed down by an "extra" department whose work they don't understand very well.  (It is always shocking to me how little many very experienced crew folks actually know about how sound works in movies).   The best among us have truly great diplomatic skills, can be firm without getting angry and generally have their shit so together that they only rarely get surprised.  But...every dog has their day.   I have found that if you have the visible support of the director and producer you can get almost anything done, and if you have hostility and incomprehension toward your work from those people you are in for a rough time: the rest of crew gauges how they will interact with you based on how they see those folks work or not work with you.  I will say that an early good demonstration of really knowing the film, the script and the schedule in any interaction with the AD Dept buys you a lot of points, make them feel like you understand what they are trying to do and helps get them on your side a bit!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...