Category Archives: Films Directed by Greg Pak

As a filmmaker, Greg Pak is best known for his feature film Robot Stories, which won 35 awards and played in over 70 film festivals. Pak studied at the NYU Graduate Film program and won a Student Academy Award for his short documentary Fighting Grandpa. Pak’s recent short films include Happy Fun Room and Mister Green.

Feature: Robot Stories

Short: All Amateur Ecstasy, Asian Pride Porn, Cat Fight Tonight, Everybody’s Supersonic, Fighting Grandpa, Happy Fun RoomHappy Hamptons Holiday Camp for Troubled Couples, Mister Green, Mouse, Mr. Lee, Ode to Margaret Cho, Penny Marshall Project, Po Mo Knock Knock, Super Power Blues

Educational video: Informed Consent Zone

How to Feed Your Crew

By Greg Pak
Most people working on your micro-budgeted film or video are volunteers, paid nothing for their long hours of difficult work. You must feed these folks well and regularly — otherwise everyone will justifiably hate you and you may find it difficult to recruit volunteers for your next project.
Industry standards require a full meal every six hours of shooting. In addition, you should provide a craft services table where folks can find drinks and snacks throughout the day.
A few pointers on food:

  • Get someone else to deal with food
    On tiny shoots, director/producers sometimes handle Craft Services themselves. But it’s far better to recruit someone else to do the job. Fortunately, Craft Services is something that can be done by a competent friend who has zero experience in film & video production — your brother who works for a bank can do this job.
     

  • Get decent food
    Low-budget producers often cut corners and feed people cheap pizza five days in a row. Ugh. I worked on one memorably lame shoot during which the producers set out loaves of Wonder Bread and jars of peanut butter and jelly.
    I try to feed people a little better, budgeting around $8 to $10 a person for food. In New York City, it’s usually pretty easy to find a decent take-out joint in the vicinity of the shoot. In any town, with a little research, you can find good places with affordable lunch specials. On larger shoots, it may be worth your while to hire a catering service which will bring hot meals to your set.
    For the craft services table, bagels seem to be the standard in New York. Let local tastes dictate. I usually try to have some cut vegetables and something sweet as well — cookies or donuts. Most sets provide a few kinds of soft drinks. I like to have some juice and water on set as well. And a few times a day, a production assistant gets sent on a coffee run.
     

  • Serve meals onset
    If you traipse everyone offset to a restaurant for a sit down meal, you’ll waste time getting people from place to place, waiting for people to order, and waiting for the meal to be served. It’s much better to have food brought directly to the set so everyone stays in the same place and eats at the same time.
     

  • Don’t give people too many options
    Sometimes producers let sets grind to a halt while everyone mulls over a take out menu, picking their lunches. Instead, pick three meals ahead of time — a chicken, a beef, and a vegetarian option. Then play flight attendant, asking each crew member “Chicken, beef, or vegetarian?” Saves much time.
     

  • Don’t feed people breakfast
    I always ask crew members to come to the set already having eaten breakfast. When we meet at 8 a.m., I want to start working at eight, not at nine or whenever people finish eating their food. I always have bagels, orange juice, and coffee on the set which crew can munch on as they work. But I don’t blow an hour with a sit down meal for everybody.

Shoot shorter days

By Greg Pak
Like college kids bragging about how many all-nighters they’ve pulled to finish their thesis papers, low-budget filmmakers sometimes get into stupid games of one-upsmanship about the ridiculous length of their shooting days.
Don’t go there, friends! The longer you let each shooting days become, the more mistakes your crew will make, the crankier everyone will get, and the less well you will perform as a director.
Industry standards require a minimum of ten hours “turn around time.” This means that there should be at least ten hours between the time everyone leaves the set and the minute everyone arrives onset.
I’d recommend planning for shooting days of no longer than 12 hours. Yes, you’ll save a little money on equipment rentals if you shoot three sixteen hour days rather than four twelve hour days. But the savings are deceptive — with a sixteen hour day, you’ll need to feed people dinner as well as lunch. And the cost of extra mistakes and poor performance due to exhaustion may be incalculable.
From time to time, unforseeable circumstances may force you into a sixteen hour day. So be it. But don’t let it become a habit.