Getting Hired As A DIT – Part 2
In Part 1 we looked at how to get your foot in the door. Now that we’re there, how do we secure the gig? How do we compete against other DIT services and come out winners? We have 5 more tips for you.
1. Manage the data
You can survive almost any mistake you make, except one. Data management is the bread and butter, the core, the foundation upon which everything else happens. If you screw up a transcode, or apply the wrong LUT you can remedy that. If you lose data, you might as well make a day of it and gut punch the DP, pie the gaffer in the face, and spike the camera through the windshield of the transpo captain’s personal car.
It is a basic function that every DIT skips over in a primary meeting because it is so essential that it is hard to imagine that it bears a mention. It does. Showing awareness, knowledge, and primary focus on this will help them to understand you and your value. If you are working with a dedicated data manager, that’s great. Still talk about it, show an awareness and don’t wait until the workflow meeting. How will you backup, and where will the backups be kept? Where will copies be stored overnight? Are you breaking them up? How much storage will you need for each week? When will LTO tapes be made?
If you have one copy, you have none.
If you have two copies, you have one.
See “The Juggle is Real” for some great data management tips by Lisa, our SVP of Technology.
2. The rule of the Double
The UPM knows it. The DP knows it. The Director knows it. But no one ever talks about it, so we created a rule for it: The Double. Simply put, it’s the rule that everything kinda’ doubles most of the time. Some examples of how this happens might be:
- “The second camera body is just a backup.” There has never been a second camera body on-set that has not been used all the time.
- “It’s just a quick [INSERT 2ND UNIT ACTIVITY].” There has never been “just a quick” one of those, no matter what they tell you. If the words ‘quick’ or ‘little’ show up at all, it probably isn’t. Heres why.
We are creative people, and given any creative circumstances we will do as much as we can. It’s what makes us all so brilliant.
To be clear, not every change they throw at you will cause a doubling of workload, like doubling the cameras, but the little things have an impact too, and it adds up. For example, adding a third copy of the footage may change your ability to distribute at a certain time. Be aware and set expectation so you don’t get drowned in your own willingness.
3. Do you have an R&D budget? Hint: Yes
You probably spend a bit of time on faceTube and InstaTwit researching the latest tools, updating your software to the latest builds, and figuring out how to optimize your rig. Try doing a little of that preparation for your client interactions too.
Before any meeting, before any phone call, we do a bit of research on who the main players are. We check the web, IMDB, we look at who is attached – anything and everything we can find out. You’ll be surprised how many times we have won a bid because we are prepared, thoughtful, and ready-to-go. Like puzzle pieces that go together really quickly, we look for information that will tell us what we need to focus on. If you’re going in to talk to the DP of a show whose director is Kathryn Bigelow then you’ll want to talk about security of the dailies delivery. If you don’t know why then you just proved my point, and if you do, well, you just proved my point.
We are in the business of communication so it will always serve you well to be a good listener as well as a clear communicator. It’s tempting to think that a new client wants to know what you know. They don’t. Half of what you know is 50% more than they want to learn. They just need to feel confidence in your abilities and that you’ll listen to concerns or instructions and get them sorted with the least amount of fuss. Be that DIT.
Because we have done our research we probably have some questions. In one example, we were working with a DP that was known for shooting with ARRI, but with a little digging at the camera house we learned this show was using a Sony F55. We sat down and said, ‘So, your using the F55’ . During the next 15 minutes we listened and learned everything we needed to know about the show, his worries and his expectations. We showed him the plan we had pre-made based on our knowledge and then sorted a plan of action with the AC. Out of the three LA companies looking to work on the show, which one do you think they chose? Us (or I wouldn’t be writing about it).
This sense of connection and care is important when a UPM and DP are looking to trust their $XM with you. This is one of the most hirable skills you can develop.
5. Credibility is elusive
You’re only ever a mis-set expectation away from losing it. Too much or too little – no matter which way it goes, it’s all bad.
Getting in over your head is obviously a bad idea. Underpromising is just as bad though, because it gets tiresome to hear that something can’t be done, only to see it done.
Credibility is the balance between the realistic and the CYA. It is important during the first meetings to be realistic about what can and cannot be done within a reasonable time frame. Remember that set works 12 hours, excluding the lunch break, so be thoughtful before promising to do something. At this point though, it’s easy to start to making whistling sounds and shaking your head like a doctor looking at the chart of a patient who got run over by a steam roller – which is thunderously annoying.
Just tell the UPM and the DP what the limits are and what the solutions might be. I promise that this will go a long way to standing out when you’re trying to get the next job.
That’s it for now. Let us know if you already do these things, and how it’s working for you. Post your comments on Facebook or here, and give us a “Like”. We have some amazing posts coming up, as well as some videos showing you some advanced techniques for handling images for creative work.
ABOUT ((RADAR)) DIT.
Born in the digital age, Radar is an award winning company that focuses on the hardware, software and services of DIT on and near set. From smart storage to web dailies and REMOTE and ONE, Radar handles millions of gigabytes of footage across its platform. For more information visit; www.RadarDIT.com