What we can learn from Ellen Pompeo's recent HR article

(Bri Castellini) #1

If you haven’t read this article, I HIGHLY recommend it, for all genders!

One thing I thought was worth highlighting in this community was the following:

What happened is that I went to Shonda [Rhimes] and I said, “If you’re moving on to Netflix and you want the show to go down, I’m cool with that. But if you want it to continue, I need to be incentivized. I need to feel empowered and to feel ownership of this show.”

I think in web series, writer/director/producer/multi-hyphenates tend to get bogged down with control-freak tendencies. Our web series are our babies, after all! But ceding some of that ownership to your team, especially your actors, is both advantageous to your overall success and often overlooked. Actors especially, as Pompeo mentions in this article, frequently have the least amount of control on a set, yet they are literally visually tied to it, which can be hard.

Especially when people ask about how to incentivize volunteers on their early works without budgets, I absolutely recommend offering your actors and fellow crew some kind of producing power or credit (within reason and with an ironclad contract, of course), so that they can feel like they’re not just doing you a favor, they’re actively participating in making something awesome. You’d be amazed how quickly that improves sets and how it especially benefits you during promotion time.

Anyone else have thoughts on this or on the article in general? Would love to discuss!

(Meg Carroway) #2

But ceding control is scarrryyyyyy…

Totally see what you’re saying, though. I like how you put it about it making people feel like they’re building something rather than doing you a favor… I’m constantly worried about asking for too many favors, but if they’re invested in building it then it’s not a favor anymore!

(Bri Castellini) #3

I think it’s especially important for actors- their face is tied to this, and the shooting commitment for a web series is generally more intense than for any other low budget project, meaning they’ll have to keep their appearance the same and potentially miss out on opportunities to continue working on it (seems to be the same for many TV stars- Pompeo talks about how she’s pretty limited in terms of working on other things, which was a major reason she wanted more ownership)

(Meg Carroway) #4

Oh man I didn’t even think about the appearance thing… I guess that is a pretty big deal for actors who need to be able to do whatever to fit a role!

(Jane) #5

When you say “ownership” what exactly do you mean by that?

(Bri Castellini) #6

It depends on the show! Sometimes that’s a bit of creative license over lines/plots (one of my actors pitched me a backstory for his character that I loved so much I incorporated it into later seasons), sometimes it’s a producing credit which allows them to help decide shoot dates and locations, sometimes it’s just letting them sit in on meetings so they feel involved, even if they don’t have a ton of actual decision-making power.

But bottom line: when you’re not being paid for your work, or in Ellen Pompeo’s case you’re being paid far under what you should, then ownership makes a massive difference in how passionate you are about the thing, and the more likely you are to go above and beyond.

(Jane) #7

Makes sense!

(Katie Adele Nazim Hunter) #8

Huh. I guess my philosophy so far has been to get people who really want to be doing the jobs they’re doing (sound gal loves to sound, DP loves to DP) and feel invested in the project cause they’re doing what they love. I’ve never been in a situation where an actor asked for more creative control, but I could definitely see myself being wary/open to it. It would depend on the actor, the project, etc. There are also lots of bogus producer credits handed out in on bigger budget projects to keep people “happy” and/or elevate them to higher pay. If it doesn’t hurt the integrity of the story, I guess why not?