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How to Hire a Film Crew for Your Next Passion Project

Tanner Shinnick

Hiring a film crew for your passion project? Here are four tenets to keep in mind to make sure you assemble a successful team.

Passion projects shape us as filmmakers. Whether it’s a narrative, art, or documentary piece, there’s always one thing you need to do — hire a film crew. However, finding dedicated and talented people for a passion project can, at times, be an issue. Recently, I started one of my own passion projects and this got me wondering How do I crew this?


1. Give First, Then Receive

When you’re looking to hire a film crew for a passion project, you’re typically pulling from your social and professional networks. This was very much the case for my project. Over the last few years, I’ve built a solid network of like-minded filmmakers whom I’ve worked with on a variety of paying projects. Many of these filmmakers I’ve personally recommended for many paying jobs — and vice versa. Essentially, we’ve become a support and referral network for each other.

If you don’t have a huge budget, then hiring from your networks like this (if you’ve put in the time), can save you in total cost — in the form of discounted rates and personal favors.


2. Build a Solid Pitch

Before people can buy into your project, they have to know exactly what you want to create. If you’re hiring a film crew, they’ll want to know there’s a solid direction behind the production.

You can do this by creating a pitch deck, a mood board, or even some storyboards.


3. Be Honest and Upfront

When you begin actually hiring a film crew, be upfront about what to expect, especially when it comes to pay. If you’re agreeing to a discounted rate, be sure you’re both clear on the number. Avoid abstracts agreements. State what you can afford from the beginning. If you over-promise but can’t deliver, this will damage the morale of your crew — and your standing in the community.


4. Show Some Respect

If you can’t afford to actually hire a film crew at standard rates, do your absolute best to cover other hard costs like travel, expendables, and food. This simple gesture can go a long way if you’re asking people to do you a favor. Treat your crew well, and they’ll treat your project well.

Also, don’t ask your crew do more than you agreed to. For example, don’t push your crew to work a fourteen-hour day when you originally said it would be a six-hour day. If a shoot gets out of control, stop and rethink it, and figure out how to finish the job with input from the crew.


Cover image via Sundays Photography.

Looking for more filmmaking tips and tricks? Check out these articles.

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