Professionalism in the workplace

As i enter the film industry, I increasingly feel crazy. Like a loon. Like I am the only one in the industry that has high expectations of all those that work alongside me. The people around me are making me feel like i’m a nut for having the values that I do when it comes to work place etiquette. Is professionalism nonexistent in this industry? Should I stop expecting certain behavior of my colleagues that ascribe to unstructured schedules, loose deadlines, and interactive environments? Let me explain.

I staunchly believe that there is a certain standard that we should all meet when in the workplace. Now I’m open and understanding so I get that these standards may vary based upon the industry. For example, my girlfriend is in corporate education. She is expected to be ten minutes early or she’s late. She is expected to show up to work in slacks every day and strive to meet daily number-based goals or she will be reprimanded. Though not explicitly stated, she is expected to be efficacious and maintain personal goals and ask questions when she doesn’t understand something. And above all else, she is expected to meet deadlines.

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In the entertainment industry, 9-5’s are few and far between. Dress codes are nonexistent. Respect for time is not something to be expected or earned but rather begged for. Setting goals aren’t necessarily implied and to be self efficacious is unheard of. To have something before a deadline? Forget it. How about by the deadline? ha.

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I honestly don’t think that I ask for much. As a producer, I often delegate, manage, maintain and ensure projects run smoothly. With these responsibilities, I must rely upon many people around me. And as you’ve probably gathered, I have high expectations; I run a tight ship.

I’ve heard many times before from my superiors that this sort of behavior is a Pittsburgh thing. After working many years in film in LA, he says that Pittsburgh talent and crew are often difficult to work with. I’ve seen this in action, however I have nothing to compare it to like he does. With talent, for example, I think that actors should treat acting as though it’s their profession, as though their livelihood depends upon it (even though it often doesn’t in Pittsburgh). You don’t work 9-5 as an actor, granted, but as an aspiring director I absolutely grasp the importance of constant training. If you aren’t honing your craft then you are letting it lie there stagnant. And yes, if you don’t use it you lose it. A Pittsburgh thing, I’m assured, some actors book a gig and show up knowing their lines, front and back, thinking that it’s enough.

 

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Wrong. I want to let you in on a little secret, guys-us producers and directors are vastly aware of your non-training. You really can’t fool us. I work every day of the week, Monday thru Sunday in order to ensure that the production you star in goes off with a bang; shouldn’t you be working Monday thru Sunday, too? I guess this is the entertainment industry version of professionalism, or lack there of I should say.

There are a lot of gray areas and variations. For example, on-set/production etiquette is not something that is implied, as one would think. If you want cast and crew to respect a set, abide by rules and be aware of damaging anything- you’ve got to say so. If you don’t want cast and crew to drink or do drugs on set, you’ve got to tell them that. That’s a novel concept, don’t you think? Explicitly telling your employees that they can’t do illegal things on your property, whilst you’re liable. Entering the industry with a business mindset has been the source of many of my frustrations; because of my professional and managerial knowledge, I know better and I expect more.

 

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Is professionalism lost in the industry? Should I just cut my losses and adapt? I feel as though I’ve already abandoned many of my own values thus far in order to better communicate, prioritize, and accomplish goals. When are we going to insert a little bit of business and professionalism into a a production environment? Is that crazy to crave more structure? Or is it truly indicative of the Pittsburgh film industry?

I need thoughts. I’m sick of feeling like an over-reacting lunatic.

 

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