I was clearing out old e-mail and I came across this little diatribe I wrote after my involvement in a student film a couple of years ago.
It's good to laugh about it now.
5 rules for managing volunteers at a film shoot
I volunteered to assist a fellow-film student with his shoot over the weekend and it was a good exercise in witnessing how people & time management skills apply equally to film projects.
Here are some rules that every budding director/producer should be aware of:
1. Make sure you know how to operate your camera before the shoot. Hire the camera for a few days before the shoot if you have to.
2. Make sure there's a prepared timetable so that people know what to expect and when they are likely to finish. They have lives outside of your film shoot.
3. Volunteers don't want to hear the struggles you are going through as a creative genious as you decide what shots to take or how you might edit the shots later. They don't care, they just want to shoot the scene and move on.
4. Don't spend hours in idle chit-chat, stick to the timetable. That's why you should have one.
5. Don't expect other people to spend money on your project. Since people are already more than generous in volunteering their time, then don't take advantage of them by expecting or hoping they will also spend their money on things like catering and props. At least offer to reimburse volunteers for every expense they incur for you, even if it's as simple as a battery. Otherwise you can guarantee they won't help you again.