How to Handle Working for an Asshole


How to Handle Working for an Asshole

“Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.”
– George Carlin

Via The Black and Blue

Like any job, going to work in the film industry isn’t always fun. Stepping on set can become a chore when you’re stressed from a shootfeeling pressure from your department, and working extremely long hours.

So the last thing you need in a situation like that is someone treating you poorly: berating you, yelling at you, and generally being a damn asshole.

But it happens.

I wish I could tell you that everyone in the film industry is nice as cherry pie, but statistically that’s impossible and, from personal experience, I know it’s not true. At some point, probably early in your career, you’re going to encounter an asshole. How you deal with them will have a tremendous effect on the path your career takes — for better or worse.

Recently a reader (who wished to remain anonymous) told me a story about her experience with a director of photography (DP) who was treating her terribly:

I’m just wondering, however, if you have any advice on what to do if the guy you’re working for – the DP – is the asshole!? I got along well with the rest of the cast and crew, but the DP was arrogant, sexist, and condescending. Each time he directed his assholery my way, I just worked and tried harder… but I was pretty conflicted the whole time as to whether the anguish was worth it, considering it was a “deferred payment” low-budget film. Should I just have called it quits and walked away from the production? Was sticking at it and working even harder the right thing to do, or did it just affirm this DP’s douchebaggery, so that he’ll continue to be bad to people in future?

Working with anybody with a toxic attitude like that is tough. But it’s especially tough if they’re your department head because it puts you in an awkward position.

There are three ways you can handle a situation like the one encountered above:

  1. Do nothing and work quietly
  2. Try and talk with the person
  3. Walk away from the job

None of the options are ideal, I’ll admit. With Option 1, you potentially lose money, experience, and further networking. Option 2 may backfire and cause you to get fired or intensify the problem. Option 3 has you putting up with abuse without any vengeance.

So which one do you go with? What’s the right path to tread forward on?

It’s hard to say.

The best approach would be a combination of all the options in the order they’re listed. You put up with it hoping it’s a bad day, then if it continues, you approach the person professionally and talk with them about it. Finally, if it still continues, you leave the set.

But that raises another question: how do you know when to escalate things? What if it doesn’t work?

5 Factors to Help You Handle an Asshole

I’ve certainly had to deal with my fair share of filmmaking assholes, but mostly from the production department (no offense producers!) and rarely within my own department. What I’ve noticed is there are several factors that contribute towards when you should and shouldn’t escalate the situation. Leer más “How to Handle Working for an Asshole”