What to do when that happens. (Gathered from my personal experiences.)
We’ve all been there before. We go into whatever it is we may be doing with a certain plan on how it’s all going to happen. Whether you’re the one in charge, or just the low man on the totem pole, we all have a plan for how we see it happening, or how we want it to happen.
There’s one thing I’ve learned over the years that has stuck with me and helped me through a lot of situations.
An old leader of mine from the Army once told me, “No plan ever survives intact on first contact.”
Quite literally nothing you planned will happen that way. You’re not on the A-Team.
Don’t Freak Out
This literally never helps; especially if you’re the one in charge. Plans change on an almost constant basis, and your personal reactions to these changes are going to effect how the rest of your crew sees you, as well as how they handle the changes. Freaking out disrupts the workflow, diminishes creativity, and causes a loss of confidence in both the way you handle things and the way your subordinates view you. No fighter has ever won their fight if they freaked out after being hit.
Assess The Situation
I recently had a situation where I was both the 2nd AD and the casting director for a short film. One week before day one of our shoot our female lead backed out. To make matters worse, our male lead had not spoken to us in over two weeks and would not return any form of communication we sent his way. So I took my own advice and did not freak out, even though others around me were almost losing their minds. I simply made a phone call to an actress friend of mine, she recommended an actor she had worked with before, and in less than 24 hours we had a new cast.
Be Flexible To Change
Of course there are certain aspects to your project that have to remain a certain way, and by all means stand your ground on that. But for everything else, be flexible and allow for changes. So your actor is wearing a red shirt instead of a blue shirt. Is the color necessary to the plot or storyline? No? Then who cares? The audience will be focused on the actor’s talent, not their shirt color. This isn’t the yellow umbrella from “How I Met Your Mother”. Lunch got pushed from 12:00 to 13:00? Great, that’s an extra hour of filming you can get done before you break.
History’s greatest battles were won by leaders who had command of their troops and kept their cool when things didn’t go their way. They knew what their available resources were and how to properly utilize them. It may sound far fetched to compare a short film to a historic battle, but we all have our individual battles to fight. A short film just may happen to be your great battle. So remember, no matter what happens…don’t freak out.