When Do You Fire Someone?

first-time-filmmaker

(Ghetto Nerd Girl) #1

This column is written by Sally Hassan, the creator of Ghetto Nerd Girl. I talk about how to get through the vital steps of making a web series as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

Here's my logo because I don't take pics when I fire people.

There comes a time in your web series journey that you’ll realize you need to cut some people loose. It will be difficult, and it won’t always be clear what’s the right move. I’m here to tell you if you’re considering firing someone, the answer is probably yes. No one is going to tell you that hard truth.

This person is probably a friend and someone who has helped you a great deal along the way. However, people change and their behavior towards you and your series can change too. If it happens to be detrimental, disruptive or even dangerous you need to get rid of them. You’ll find yourself mulling over what to do for the following reasons:

1.) You’re Desperate for Help - It’s rare to find people who will work for free or on the cheap for your series. This may deter you from firing someone, but trust me, there are plenty of people willing to step up. Working on web series is a fun and rewarding experience outside of monetary gains.

2.) You Lack Their Abilities - Either someone else on your team can absorb their duties or you’ll have to wear another hat. The extra workload can be temporary until you find a replacement. Don’t let that overwhelming feeling stop you from firing someone who isn’t good for your team.

3.) They’re Your Friend - This makes things super awkward no matter how you slice it. You have to separate the person as a friend from the person who is/was helping you. Let them know you still value their friendship, but their role on set is no longer working out.

4.) You Don’t Want To Be The Villain - You want to be one big happy family, and firing someone means that person won’t get to see their crew anymore. What makes matters worse is your other team members may have grown attached to this person. The bottom line is if you hired this person to make your life easier and they are doing the exact opposite, then they made your decision clear.

Every situation is different, but know that you are not alone and life will go on. Rip off the band-aid and move on as quickly as you possibly can. No one has time for drama. Not the on set drama anyway. You must be wondering, what causes grounds for firing? Glad you asked! Look out for the following red flags:

1.) They Dismiss You As Authority - I’m not talking about when someone suggests a creative alternative. You vetoed an idea of theirs and they go behind your back and do it anyway. Or you clearly set ground rules and they ignore them. This behavior is contagious and if one person gets away with it others will try to follow suit. You need to nip this in the bud fast. It doesn’t matter who it is, just get them off your team STAT.

2.) Their Word No Longer Has Meaning - This can happen a lot! Some things are excusable because of life. However, if someone is repeatedly promising to do something and it’s never happening then something has to give. You end up having to do it anyway, and it’s clear that this person no longer cares. If you have to pick up their slack after the fact every time you might as well do everyone a favor and take that person’s work away from the beginning.

3.) They Disrespect You - I hope you never have to deal with this, but if you do it shouldn’t be tolerated under any circumstances. Have a private talk with the person and if it continues to happen you need to let them go. I know things can get heated on set, but you simply do not deserve that after working so hard day and night. I understand there are disagreements but yelling and cursing people out is unacceptable.

4.) They Don’t Play Well with Others - Take note. If someone has a negative disposition, generally likes to talk trash, or undermines other people SHOW THEM THE DOOR! Someone like this on your team is a recipe for disaster. I understand people’s experience levels are different, but that is no excuse to talk down to someone. We are all doing this to learn freely, not to be judged.

Ok, so you know you need to fire someone. How do you do it? My first suggestion is to call them on the phone. Be calm yet firm with your decision. Don’t let them sway you. Think about how you’re going to break the news before the call. Consider the other person’s feelings, and know they’re probably not going to be happy with you for a while. That’s okay because if this person is a real friend they will get over it and know it’s not personal. If they hold a grudge against you, then you don’t need them in your life anyway. Bye Felicia!

WHATEVER YOU DO PLEASE DO NOT FIRE SOMEONE VIA TEXT OR EMAIL!

It’s just not cool. Same etiquette rules apply in web series employment as they would in the dating world. I wish I could say I didn’t have to fire people often, but the truth is I had to go through this multiple times. That’s what happens when you take a chance on people, and it’s quite alright. Most of them end up staying so the odds are still in my favor. At the end of the day, because we have no money you need to keep your liabilities low. If shit gets out of hand that’s on you. I rather be the bad guy for firing someone than being responsible for someone getting hurt on my watch. It’s all about being proactive rather than reactive. Anyone out there have some juicy firing stories? Please do tell!


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(Bri Castellini) #2

My GOD you and @kmd must have some sort of psychic link because your articles this week are like the perfect pairing.

The one time I had to FIRE fire someone, it was an incredibly volatile person so we made the decision to meet him in Central Park near a major intersection so if he made a scene we wouldn’t be trapped in a cafe but there were enough people around that he would be convinced to stay in check. In the end, he didn’t freak out (I think by that time he knew it was coming) and so we spent 45 minutes with him whining about girls post-firing?? It was honestly torture and I wished he’d made a scene :joy:


(Ghetto Nerd Girl) #3

HAHAHA! My thoughts exactly. OMG that sounds like an awful situation. I do not envy you. I hope you had help getting out of that.


(Bri Castellini) #4

Oh man that whole situation was the worst from start to finish but yeah the creator/other producer was also there and they were friends so I had way less emotionally invested, thank GOD.


(Kyla) #5

there is so much tea being spilled in this article!! I’ve put up with sooooo much because I was desperate for help and needed someone’s skills and it was… the worst. there was a certain situation where someone decided we were equal partners on a project that I was fully writing/directing/producing, constantly fought me on minor issues, and couldn’t separate their personal issues from their issues with me/the series. they ended up quitting just as I was about to fire them and it was… yikes. the biggest problem was that so much of what happened happened over texting and phone because I’d be busy and unable to meet in person, or we’d argue in person at school and then later in the day I’d have to call them to work out the issue because they’d have been picked up from school because they were upset. I’m happy with how things are now (aka not working with this person anymore) but damn it was bad.


(Ghetto Nerd Girl) #6

Woooooow! That’s tough when you can’t get away from the person. Were you friends before? I’m scared to ask if things are ok now or do you no longer speak? Yikes is right!


(Kyla) #7

we were more acquaintances than friends, and we had a class together first semester so it was reaaaaaally awkward sitting across from each other mid-fight (and more often than not we would end up continuing the fight). we don’t talk anymore because we don’t see each other ever, and we didn’t really text before so…