That's a deal breaker
Warning signs of collaboration

By Brenna Erickson

Female filmmakers are still a minority in the industry. And there are stupid men out there who will be disrespectful.  My partner-in-crime and I met this guy at a 24 Hour Film Race.  In a later project, we needed a Camera Operator for a particularly tricky scene and we wanted some help.  So we called him in to help out.  Over the two days that he was on our set he managed to completely turn us against him.  Please try to avoid these easy mistakes when working with other filmmakers, regardless of gender.

The origins of the phrase “That's a Deal Breaker”: Tina Fey has this tv show on NBC called 30 Rock.  It is about the experience of being the head writer on a show that closely resembles Saturday Night Live.  She came up with a segment where women write in about men they are having relationship problems with, if it's definitely a problem in the relationship the phrase “That's a Deal Breaker” is applied.  Of course, in TV Show-land the phrase has un-intended consequences for Tina Fey because it affects her male co-worker's personal lives.  Anyway, the phrase is very applicable in this article.

a) Call the Actresses by Name

Our lead actress is a strong woman.  She is not in any way, shape, or form a “Sweetheart”, “Honey, or “Doll”.  Even after being reminded >3 times of her name, he insisted on the endearments.  And our lead actress insisted that he never be allowed on set again.  We agreed with her.  That's a Deal Breaker.

b) Sexism

When you invite other filmmaker's to work on your film, and they are women, don't tell them that you want them to do “Oh, you know, make-up, wardrobe, set-dressing, that sort of thing.” The subtext of “women's work” should be screaming in your brain.  Especially if he is asking a director/producer team.  Unless they are really bored, and starved for filmmaking experience, they most likely have better things to do than be the acting housewives on your set. Needless to say, our schedules were just too busy with our own short film project or ANYTHING ELSE than to work on that particular project.  That would be a Deal Breaker.

c) Don't be Intentionally Difficult in Order to Prove Your Masculinity

As a guest on another team's set, try to fit in.  Let us use the camera to rewind the tape.  Don't try to be the boss of the set, especially is you are only the cinematographer.  Treat the crew like a family you are visiting.  Don't be difficult, and try not to be cocky. Especially if your only semi-professional film experience is shooting Rap Music Videos. Deal Breaker.

d) Nudes are a No-no

Emailing pictures of your genitals to the director of a project...just spells C-R-E-E-P-Y.  Don't do it.  It's not cute.  Or appropriate.  Ever.  That's a Deal Breaker.

1,2,3,4 Strikes you are OUT!

We even gave you an extra one...come on! Get it together!

Please do not repeat these mistakes at home or in the workplace.

Your Comments Please

Dear Brenna
Did some idiot really email pictures of his gentals?  I hope you replied with "I'm used to more than that!"
Kind regards


Well said! I especially liked 'Don't try to be the boss of the set, especially if you are only the cinematographer'....though I wont go so far as '....only a...' since I've worked with a few brilliant DOPs. But I did have an encounter with a DOP who thought he was the director. He was an outright diva and demanded a car to come pick him up. He'd also tried to put me down by saying ' this country, we....'. So I just had to put my foot down and be a BITCH. Unfortunately he got the last laugh since it was only later that I discovered that he had 'sabotaged' the project by shooting in 720 instead of 1020 as I had instructed and reminded him to. At least I know his real name: S.C.Prick.


#5  Do not treat me like I'm an idiot because I'm a "girl".  I'm nearly 50 years old, and have been in film & theatre off and on since I was 16.  I may not be on the cover of People, but I am the producer.  That's a dealbreaker.  And it'll break the deal for any female producer who asks for a reference, too.
Laurie Stewart

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About Brenna Erickson

Brenna EricksonBrenna Erickson had no choice but to dedicate her life to film after her first film shoot entailed running around a basement in subzero temperatures in a formal gown with bare feet. She apparently couldn't get enough of it and is working on evolving into a FILM PRODUCER/SCREENWRITER, but until investors begin showering her with money, she is interning whilst learning as much as possible. She owns a film company called Em.K. Productions with her partner in crime. Her first feature film, Anatomically Incorrect will be hitting the film festival circuit in spring 2011. 


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