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had the production assistant who were there and the secretaries and I was a freelancer
who was coming into work at the computer and look at tapes. And I remember that the
staffers didn’t treat me very well.” Did they think that maybe you wanted their job? Kate’s
response, “some people did. But I also think they resented the breezy attitude. And I had
to say things like ‘hi I’m looking for a pen. Can I get some paper?’ What you learn as a
freelancer is to find the nicest person in the office, ingratiate yourself to them, and you get
the office supplies. I may appear on the outside to be an easier gig you come in at 9:30
or 10:00 AM and watch tapes until 6:00 PM but you carry all the responsibility of the work
with you. There is often no support of your efforts. So you have to learn to read people to
get along better and reading people is part of being a good producer.”
Kate notes that her experience as a freelancer has made her a better producer, “because
you know how to make other people comfortable. When I supervise a team, I ask if they
need anything. I feel I can tune into the person who has been left out.” Kate’s gift is
making a temporary environment inviting. She notes, “on the show I just completed
(Raising Sextuplets). . . people got offered better jobs and left because of a two-week
hiatus but one team member was offered a better job with more money on the
‘Kardashians’ but she said she just couldn’t leave me. I made sure that we gave her a
raise and a bonus.”
Criteria for Organizing A Production Crew
Although credits make a difference, Kate feels that what they sound like on the phone
impacts how she hires. Kate adds, “I’ve actually hired directors and editors before meeting
them. Sometimes you’re not in the same physical space with them right away. With a
director, I listen to how much he or she listens. And are they really paying attention
because a director has to pay attention. That’s a crucial part of their job--to listen and to
respond or set the track for everyone to follow. I look for intelligence. It’s how they
answer. It was obvious the last time I called a couple of directors that I was stressed out.
The guy that I hired (for ‘Raising Sextuplets’) was very calm and he said ‘yeah, I have a
kid and I’m kind of excited to swing a camera with six little kids around.’ I liked that. He
already saw himself in the room.” I noted that he was reassuring about his comfort zone
with children and Kate concurs, “I like someone who is calmer than me on the shoot. He
was the grounding energy that the show needed.” McNamee describes the importance of
‘future-talk,’ “We underscore the relational construction of our worlds. We fabricate
together what we might live into” (as cited in Gergen, Schrader & Gergen, 2009, p. 105).
The director was engaged in a future-oriented discourse that created a sense of shared
possibilities.
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