3 min read

How to Crew Up for Big Assignments

When preparing for a big assignment, it’s important to find a team you know you can trust and work well with. Depending on how you find…
How to Crew Up for Big Assignments

When preparing for a big assignment, it’s important to find a team you know you can trust and work well with. Depending on how you find your team, you’ll need to be able to determine whether they’re the right people to join your crew. Here are the steps you should take:

Find your crew.

If you don’t have a go-to crew, or the team you normally work with is already working on an assignment, there are plenty of Facebook groups that you can turn to for help. Our own group, Storyhunter Community includes vetted professionals from our site. More specific groups like I Need a Camera Op and I Need a Production Assistant can connect you with specific freelancers for your video needs. If you went to film school, don’t forget to use your alumni group as a resource for networking. Facebook groups are a great way to find freelancers because you can see whether or not you have mutual friends; it’s easier to trust a new crew member when you know people who can vouch for them.

Vet their abilities.

Be sure to vet the abilities of freelancers you find. Check their work samples and see if you have any mutual crew members or clients. Ask mutual crew members how that person performed on set, use colleague connections to get a clearer idea on if they are a good partner for you on the job. If they seem to have a good working reputation, the next step is ask them about their experiences with the equipment you’ll be using for the assignment. Ask them how comfortable they are with it and if they seem to be a good fit, you can move on to the next step.

Establish payment terms upfront.

Make it clear that their payment is entirely dependent upon your payment. The team cannot get paid until the client pays you, therefore everyone needs to be fully aware of payment dates. If a client says they’re paying net 30, your team cannot expect to be paid immediately after shooting. Depending on the amount, friendly transfers like Chase QuickPay or Paypal is fine. When using Paypal, be sure to mark it as friends and family, rather than services, to avoid the fee. We suggest transferring any payment over $2,000 through a bank for security.

Determine rights to the footage.

Before filming, figure out who owns the rights to the footage. If the client owns the rights exclusively, your team needs to know so that they do not get in trouble for re-selling footage, or using clips over the allotted time limit for their personal reels. Find out who is allowed to reuse the footage and share it. Just because it is accessible by the internet, does not mean you are allowed to use it for your own site. It is your responsibility to clarify usage rights.

Make a contract.

Everything should be in writing. Before shooting, there should be a written contract stating the rate, date of payment, and expected deliverables. You should write up a section for usage and ownership of footage and make sure that everything is signed before the work begins. This is especially important on high-budget shoots, so that if there is any problem between work and payment, you can refer back to the contract.

What else do you do when you crew up? Tell us in the comments!

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By Lena Drake, Storyhunter Writer