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October 2008

Why Can't Companies Be Managed Like A Film Crew?

Studio_illu_smal

I'm taking a course in film technology at Ryerson University and one of the topics of discussion involves film crews. The instructor delves into the nitty gritty of each role on a film set, and what everyone's duties are in fulfilling their roles. Every day while heading to work in downtown Toronto, I pass by long lines of trailers emblazoned with logos from film companies or industry suppliers.

Last week while waiting for the bus, I noticed a letter posted by a local location manager informing the community (several days in advance) that a film would be shot in the neighbourhood. The letter listed the streets that would be closed, the name of the film - as well as contact information should anyone need to contact the crew. At the end of the letter, the location manager thanked everyone in advance for their co-operation.

I've always admired the way that film crews are able to come into a neighbourhood (with as little interuption as possible to local businesses), do their thing in the most professional way possible - then pack up and leave the location leaving no trace that they had ever been there in the first place. 

On a set, everyone has a specific duty and role to accomplish. In spite of the inevitable obstacles and disagreements, somehow the job gets done and the result is a movie that does a beautiful job of tying in story and location with pure art.

Having worked in the business world for 23 years, I've seen a lot of interesting things in terms of company dynamics and it's always amazed me how film companies can pull together so many dynamic elements, yet come up with a product that often enough exceeds expectations. Think about it. Someone has to be sure that everyone is where they're supposed to be (at a certain time)...that everything is set up the way it's supposed to be for each shot...and that everything looks the way it's supposed to look to match the historical placement of the film.

I don't know many companies that could match that level of expertise and professionalism - let alone pull together a team of such diverse and specific talent. Perhaps it's time that companies took notice of the way film crews did business using an attention to detail - one shot at a time.

Can you think of any other ways in which film crews or film shoots resemble the ways in which companies are run? What could the business world learn from the entertainment world - capitalizing on both its mistakes as well as its successes?