From the Movies to Real Life – Work Principles from the Film Industry that You Can Implement in Your Business and Personal Life
Published on: October 13, 2021

We can’t wait to share with you some more practical lessons from the recent episode of the Productivity Mastery Podcast! Stoyan’s podcast guest was Shane Hurlbut, the legendary DOP of films like “Terminator: Salvation” and “Need for Speed”.

The film industry is one of the toughest ones out there, as it requires lots of energy, resources, and manpower to create the “moving pictures” we so effortlessly watch on the screen. Only a few of us actually think about what happens behind the camera and how thousands of people from various departments carry out their duties in absolute and necessary sync. Luckily, Shane Hurlbut was here for us to shed some light on the work process there, and we are certain that those tips from filming can be implemented in your business and family life as well. Let’s have a look.

1.    Communicate your vision

According to Shane, there are two key elements that need to be perfected before even starting the production process – Communicating your vision and Mastering the pre-production. On the set, Shane has to coordinate people from his department, and also needs to have very good communication with the other departments, such as set design, costumes, builders, etc.

His advice is to give your team a ROADMAP – a document, combining what each of the departments’ plans is. In film production, this is usually the script, plus each department’s different schematics like storyboards, shot-lists, and so on. During the pandemic, however, Shane found out that it’s much easier for everyone if you create one big document combining all of these elements, and doing the planning together – so that everyone is on the same page as much as possible.

“On my last movies 142 lighting schematics, 272 blocking schematics, and a shot-list based on 70+ scenes in the movie were all built within the first four weeks of my prep.”

Sounds like a lot of work for 4 weeks, but this has saved his team conflicts, misunderstandings, and the usual budget problems. Using the advanced prep setup, every department could be at ease, confident, and way more effective, which resulted in a much healthier and efficient work environment and resource distribution.

After all, isn’t that what every team leader wants? Shane’s example clearly shows that you need to take your time and carefully prepare the plan for your project. Give your employees CLARITY and security, so that they can prepare themselves mentally for the things they need to do. And exclude anything they do not need to do!

2.    Life/Work Balance

You will be surprised to hear how much time good preparation saves you. Because of his job, Shane is often away from home – sometimes for many, many months. Nevertheless, he maintains a healthy and strong marriage. How does he do that? Well, that’s what he shared with us:

“Once I really started to master the prep, I was able to give a lot of focus to the family and keep connected every day.”

He started using his extra free time to get in touch with his family, and this paid off. We can try to imagine that our relationships are different work projects. We usually make time in our schedules for work-related tasks, so why shouldn’t we add some time for family to the list? This could be a life-saving investment.

3.    Living together while 3 000 miles apart

Another thing that helped Shane and his wife Lydia was RITUALS. They agreed that they’d be doing the same morning and evening routines. Regardless of the distance and the time zone, they knew that their mornings start with coffee, then some stretching, and meditation. In the evenings, they cooked meals and called each other to reflect on their days.

“We were leading separate lives, but completely in sync with the rituals.”

 That’s an interesting technique worth trying since this really has helped Shane connect with his wife and kids. He shared with us that his marriage has never felt happier, despite the hectic days at work!

To sum it up, Shane has really inspired us with his productivity lessons – told in a very capturing way.

We recommend that you listen to the full episode because this was just a small part of the knowledge Shane Hurlbut, ASC, shared with us. He has amazing worth-to-hear stories, including how he endured the Christian Bale conflict while shooting “Terminator: Salvation”, how he founded an academy for filmmakers with a different mindset with his wife Lydia, and many, many more!

Listen to the full podcast via:

Youtube  Anchor  Spotify  Apple Podcast

Written by Ani Nedyalkova


Productivity Mastery is a podcast featuring some of the most inspiring leaders on the planet. Subscribe now and listen to untold stories, productivity lessons, and more.

Published by: Stoyan Yankov


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