Today I found myself on a movie set for the first time. I’d imagined being an extra in a movie on and off for years, and then suddenly there I was, watching an amazing woman deliver a powerful spoken poem to us, the motley crew that made up her audience.
We were shooting for Slam, a movie about, as you may have guessed, poetry slams (amongst other things). As a lover of the spoken word, and with an invite I couldn’t resist, I went along as a volunteer, spending the afternoon mostly waiting, occasionally clicking and watching in awe as I saw how movies are really made.
As I tend to do, I saw parallels between my day to day experience (in this case, being on a movie set) and the development of a business that makes a difference in the lives of others. Here’s what I learnt:
1. So much more goes on behind the scenes than the finished product will ever reveal
If you’ve been on a movie set before you’ll know that to film one scene can take many, many takes to get right. It takes consideration of clothing choices, and how a person’s jacket sits or scarf falls. It takes make up and hair, and a lot of thinking about how to get the lighting just right.
How does this relate to the business you’re building? Well, how about realising that the brand new workshop you run is going to take more back end work than you first thought? Or that new product you’re creating, it’s going to have more moving parts to turn it into a thing than you guessed when you saw your competitors doing it?
What do you do about this? How about, make it easy for yourself. And, learn from others who have been there before. As well as perhaps allowing more time than you think it ‘should’ take.
2. The more actors (people) involved, the more room for error
In the scenes that only required one actor to speak, usually that person nailed it in two takes. However, as soon as there were two or three actors, and scenes that required movement on and off stage, not just speaking, the number of takes increased because the errors from the whole group increased.
How does this relate to the business you’re building? Well, often we think our lives would be easier, and our business would grow faster if only we could have a business partner, or other people to help facilitate our workshops with us. And of course, this kind of collaboration can work well. But with it comes the need for better communication and a much higher chance of errors occurring.
What do you do about this? Whilst it’s rare to see a movie with just one person in it (though it’s possible) business also does not need to be a solo affair. Just as the story line gets richer with more actors in it, our business too can become richer (both monetarily and in experience) by including more people. But just like a movie, we need to allow more room for error and be conscious about our communication to make it as smooth as possible for those involved.
3. Be kind to your team; you can’t do this without them
As an extra I had a lot of time to sit around, watch and listen. And that’s exactly what I did. I paid very close attention to what was happening between every take. And it’s fair to say I was amazed. Whilst it was hard to tell exactly how many crew there were on set today, I would estimate there were around 20 people. And that was for a small film, with a tiny budget.
There was a costume person, and someone different to fix the actors’ clothes. There was a make up person, and someone different to fix the actors’ hair. There was at least three guys on sound, and at least three different people on cameras and watching the screens. There were lighting guys on the ground and up above us in the scaffolding. There were at least three different people who moved us extras around in endless combinations, and there were people who I rarely saw but heard their unique voice for the start of every take.
And the Director and Assistant Director was thanking their team again, and again, and again. People asked requests of each other constantly, and the person being asked something of replied promptly without issue. It was amazing.
How does this relate to business? Well, if you intend for it to grow, your business is just like this movie; you need a team, and you need to be kind to them. You need to feel able to ask them what you need, and they need to deliver it. And it helps to say “Thank you”, a lot.
What do you do about this? Find the right people for the right roles and look after them like your life depends on it.