by Roy Saunderson | February 14, 2011
Lights! Camera! Action! Roll out the red carpet and get ready for the 2011 Academy Awards! Oscar nominees are recognized by their peers and the winners are bestowed with their industry's highest honor. But star-studded Tinseltown only lets us see the glamour and the glitz of Hollywood -- for the industry it is budgets, schedules and profits and for the workers, technicians, actors, directors, producers. Making a movie is old-fashioned hard work with long days and nights, and often weeks and months on location away from workers' families.

Last week I spoke to award-winning producer and director Cameron Dean Gibson about the importance of recognizing everyone on a movie set from the stars to the interns. Below are his Top 10 ways to increase productivity and keep the whole team motivated on a movie set. 
1. Meet and know your team
As the boss, the troops will most certainly know who you are, but to get the most from your people, it is necessary for you to know who they are!  Learn as many names and assignments as possible and treat their contributions with significance.

2. Keep people fed
Always have fresh catered foods available on set or have regularly scheduled carry-out/delivery runs planned. Schedules can change without notice from production delays to sudden script changes and actor retakes and hunger throws people off their A-game. Make sure meal and snacks are easy by having lots of menus and someone assigned to call in and pick up! 
3. Encourage initiative 
Just because it works on paper doesn't mean it will work during the actual performance. Set a generous tone and allow actors, set directors, costume and make-up people the freedom to experiment and bring their own interpretation to the scene.  
4. De-stress your set 
Yes, it's possible. Remind everyone that technology makes things easier and flashier but the film is a "human" project and some days will be perfect and others will be a nightmare. Everyone has to be on board for expecting good and bad times. Keep the mood on set as stress-free and happy as possible. 
5. Invite suggestions
If a scene isn't working -- whether it's the camera view, set-decor, script lines, or actor performance -- go beyond your inner circle and listen to ideas from the entire crew to see if others are noticing the same things or are able to suggest solutions. Be open to both creative problems and logistical ones. This will lead to a more trusting and generous company on the lot. 
6. Set a schedule and do your best to keep it
Movies are famous for running over-budget and over-schedule. If you must tape on a sunny day and it is raining for a week you can always blame Mother Nature, but discourage tardiness, absenteeism, long lunch-hours, and bad attitudes. By recognizing positive behavior and discouraging negative you will keep morale high, which will serve as its own schedule-keeper.
7. Expect mistakes
When your stage crew uses a rope lift not realizing it won't hold the baby grand piano which falls through the stage floor...don't get mad!  No matter what the experience, every project is a new one and trial and error will be a big part of it. Thank the team for mobilizing so quickly on alternative set designs or finding new equipment right away. Don't embarrass anyone or call them out -- instead be professional and encourage fast action to keep the trains running on time.
8. Elvis yourself
You can never utter the words "thank you" and "thank you very much" too many times on a film lot. Your cast and crew will do so many seen and unseen things and you'll never catch them all, so when you do make like Elvis and thank them very much!
9. Halfway recognition
Marking the halfway point in a film is significant because you need to keep everyone motivated for the final innings. Have fun with it and create awards like "most chatty on the set"..."most times they placed a pizza order"..."most tweets"...etc. 
10. Wrap party
What we hear is all true...lots of bubbly, music, dancing, and buffets fit for a king!  When the project is over, don't just eat and drink -- acknowledge your cast and crew with broad strokes as well as very individual ones. Recognizing your team in a meaningful way will be something they will carry inside of them as their built-in Oscar win all year long.

Don't forget to watch Hollywood's top recognition event! 2011 Academy Awards airs on Sun. Feb. 27 @ 8pm ET on ABC.  For a listing of Oscar nominations, visit
Cameron Dean Gibson won Best Documentary at the 2008 Northwestern Student Film Festival and the Editor's Choice at the North by Northwestern Film Festival for "(in)tangible"  In 2009, "Bloodbath" was an Official Selection at the Atlanta Horror Film Festival and the Sacramento Horror Film Festival. In 2010, three of his films were screened at the Echo Park Film Center: "Partially Buried Woodshed", "Body Language", and "Dinosaur".  Currently Cameron Dean Gibson is a production assistant on the popular TV show The Grid, which airs weekly on IFC.

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the Recognition Way and president of the Recognition Management Institute, which consults companies on improving employee motivation that leads to increased productivity and profit. He can be reached at [email protected]. Also, tune in every Tuesday to his radio show, Real Recognition Radio