Friday, November 1, 2013

Video Production Teams: Group Dynamics

Video production crews are either successful, or they're not. They'll either produce a beautiful piece of collaborative work, or they won't. Surprisingly, the success of any given crew has little to do with how talented the individual members are. Instead, how the structure of the crew often proves to be the ultimate deciding factor when it comes to efficiency.

We as Americans have certain values instilled in us from an early age. Values like equality, individualism, and pride (just to name a few).  Unfortunately, these values happen to be the key ingredients in creating a sloppy, unmotivated team. For example, according to J. Richard Hackman in his book, Theory and Research on Small Groups, democracy only leads to role confusion and unnecessary stress. 

Moreover, crews that possess a singular,  unapologetic manager usually triumph. Here's the difference: Crews that value equality lack an executive figure with the final, determining say. Instead of choosing a direction and running with it, they are forced to waste time debating with one another until a consensus is reached. Furthermore, unsatisfiable debate leads to more internal conflicts within the group. 

"When direction is absent or unclear, members may wallow in uncertainty about what they should be doing and may even have difficulty generating the motivation to do much of anything" Hackman (251). 

In video production crews, it is the director's job to act as the authoritative figure. A good director tells each crew member exactly what he expects of him/her. This direction not only eliminates the time wasted on designating jobs, but also helps prevent blame from being tossed about unprofessionally. If the audio fails to record, the audio guy is fired. Furthermore, with clear direction, members of the team can focus on completing their job the best they can, without having to worry about whether or not they need to be helping with the something else. 

Another part of how a crew is structured has to do with the composition of personalities. According to Dr. Meredith Belbin, the perfect small group should be composed of nine key roles.

Here's a video that not only explains all 9 of Belbin's team roles, but also happens to be the greatest thing I've seen in a while:

Although I doubt Belbin specifically had video production crews in mind,  I found it surprisingly easy to assign certain roles to production positions. 

For instance:

The producer should be an Implementer:
It's the producer's job to make sure that the project stays within budget throughout production and post-production. A good producer not only makes good films, but makes money for the investors. They must be practical, reliable, efficient, and organized.

The director should be a Coordinator:
To succeed as a director requires a persistence of vision and the ability to collaborate with an extensive team to bring that vision to life.  They must be confident and respected as well as able to delegate tasks clearly and efficiently.

A great editor would be a Completer Finisher:
Editors spend their days (and some late nights) in front of a console of computer monitors, shaving seconds off of shots and painstakingly editing audio. Editors that aren't perfectionists don't win awards.

The Art Director is most certainly a Plant:
Art directors have to be both effective managers and creative artists, bringing a fictional world to life within the constraints of the film's budget. 

The Director of Photography (DP) is most likely a Monitor Evaluator:
The DP is responsible for choosing the camera, lenses, booms and other equipment necessary to get the shot. They must possess a mastery of technology and technique of camerawork. On top of that, the DP must have the ability to see all of the potential shots and discern which of the possibilities would best translate the director's vision.

Of course these roles aren't set in stone. No one crew position requires a certain team role. The main point I extract from Belbin's theory is that diversity is one more contributor to the structure of an efficient group. Through extensive research on the subject I can now lay out to you the three main attributes of a successful group.

A Common Goal + A Strong Leader + Diverse Players = A Winning Team

1 comment:

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