How to Mitigate Problems on Set
So we talked about the wrong wardrobe, I'm not sure if I mentioned about the stripes, that stripes aren't good, if I was clear that that's a product issue. If you've got a product and you're trying to show a product, I am wearing the perfect outfit in which you can share a product. So if the fire is that you see that the outfit's wrong, you might notice that before your client does. Okay? So that's a call-out. Medical issues, this is up here, everything we have shown you I think without fail on this class has been because it actually happened. So I do makeup ads, I do a lot of makeup ads. I don't put them on my site, but I have a lot of client direct, catalog, and makeup ads, and we had a shoot that was easily, I got a $12, $13,000 shoot. Casting, casting done live, models. The model showed up and she had a bacterial infection on her eye. And imagine, this is for makeup banners. You know when you go into a store and they have those giant banners? It was for those, for a major chain tha...
t goes, oh, actually, that was even international. There is no panicking. There is no need to panic. People were freaking out and I looked and I went, "Okay, that's pretty bad." But what are our options? Your options at that point are, first of all, get your invoice out, and you always bring your invoicing computer with you at all times, and you figure out a plan. So the plan if it's makeup and it's not the identity of the person that you need to keep, like an actor, but it's just a generic fix, you can figure out a fix on that eye at the shoot, at the shoot. Flip her around, turn it sideways. So what we could do on a situation like that is go ahead and shoot the same ad and it was, I'm gonna pretend I'm a makeup model right now, so the gal had a particular angle that needed to be shot cause her face just worked that way, and then before you're done and you're wrapping, you change the lighting and you shoot some stock of her eye to flip for the other eye, or you use stock photography and fill it in if need be. But the big point I want to talk about is communication. I am not paying the price for that model's bacterial infection, I'm not doing it. I used to. I used to pay. I would just suck it up and be like, well, the estimate was the estimate. And we haven't talked about this, most estimates you can't go over 10% above the estimate. Once you've signed off on an estimate, that's it. And so I didn't know to do an addendum. I didn't know to say, "Hey, I'll do that, "but you're gonna have to pay for it."
My first time that I saw this happen, my first little introduction to it, I was still a director's aid, so we were at the design shop and my buddy, we were just talking about key art and then he had a horror flick come up and this one girl was all dressed up, it was a horror movie and it was kinda Carrie-ish so she was in a white nightgown, real scary background, and this snake was draped all around her, and he was like, "Hey, don't you deal with snakes?" And I was like, "Yeah, a little bit." And he goes, "Does this look right?" And I was like, "Well, yeah, but I mean, "this should be a little longer," and we kind of worked on it together and then got it all looking just right and it got signed off, it got bought, so now we're gonna have a photo shoot. And he was like, "You wanna come on this photo shoot with me?" I was like, "Yeah, I'd love to." So we met down early in the morning on a Saturday, big old photo studio, and here's the model, and it's like, holy smokes, man, we're hanging out and working for this girl all day, and it's all dressed up and they got the lights all happening, and then here comes the animal handler and he pulls on in and my buddy, Ronnie, was like, "Hey, just go check out everything, make sure it's okay." And I was like, "Alright," and I went over and talked to the guy and was like, "Dude, this snake's gonna shed tomorrow, isn't she?" He was like, "Yeah, but I think I can get through the day." I was like, "Wow, you think you're gonna pull that off?" He goes, "Yeah, I think it's alright." And so Ronnie was like, "Hey, what are y'all talking about?" I was like, "Dude, that snake that the guy brought, "it's gonna shed soon." And he was like, "What's that mean?" I said, "Well, they shed their skin, so, you know, "the skin sheds, they got a brand new one, and they're good, "but, you know, everything gets kinda cloudy, you can tell." And he was like, "Well, is that gonna "show up in the photograph?" I was like, "Yeah, it's gonna show up in the photograph."
But your big problem is that's a big snake and it's in a bad mood, like all cotton-pickin' day. I said, "You're gonna wrap a big, snotty snake "around that lady who weighs about 110 pounds?" And he goes, "Well, do you think we can pull it off?" I was like, "Eesh, I don't know, man, "give it a whirl, see what happens, you know?" So he wrapped this thing and this snake's just hissing and moaning, the lady's freaked out, and I'm not doing it and what are we gonna do? He was like, "Dude, how far away is your house from here?" I was like, "I live like eight miles up and over," so he was like, "Can you go get your snake?" I was like, "Yeah, I can go get my snake." Took a break, I hammered home in a beat-up old Mazda, I grabbed mine and threw it in a pillowcase, hammered on back, threw my snake around, she was just lovely.
So the moral of that story is if you're gonna be a retoucher, you need to own a snake, that's important.
Have a snake and then hire your kids.
And then hire your kids, yeah. Now, on the same note, I want to talk a little bit, we're gonna move down to the emotional model, but it's kind of a similar idea about the medical issues. We are problem solvers, it's our job to be a problem solver. If you're on the set, you have this opportunity. So if I'm on a set with children and it's going pear-shaped, as we like to say, get on the computer and start looking for stock while everyone's freaking out. See if you can find some shots that they might be able to work around and why that's useful, if you can find some stock shots that are replaceable and you're on the shoot, the photographer can make lighting changes to change the shoot to match the stock, as opposed to the other direction. That's a novel idea, people don't consider this, but it's only when the retoucher's on set. Sometimes you can make adjustments on set to fix the shoot if you find the stock first. Now, as I said, most of this is post, but what can you do? Well, stock is an answer. To work with a photographer to do a mini shoot, honestly, it is amazing how often folks don't think about this, so to do a mini shoot. So let's say said child, for example, was having a bad day. Two days later, the kid's fine. A photographer doesn't have to do that whole big setup, the whole rigamarole, they could set up a seamless in a garage and bring their lights and do a mini shoot and fix it. It's not that hard. But oddly enough, I think it's that out-of-the-box thinking.
Well, it's that eye. Man, if I was given that, if that was my job, I'd just talk to the photographer, say, "Hey, he's got one eye that isn't all goopy. "Just give me one big shot of the good eye." And it's only from the eyelashes up, so I only have to strip in, you could use, you can't just flop one eye in and then it looks a little like a mirror and it doesn't look right, so I would use most of that eye except for the big bump in it. And you just mask in just that one little eyelid and some eyelashes from the other, but it's experience like that, knowing that you don't flop the whole face, you don't flop the whole eye, you just flop a little part of it. But give me a good shot, man, make sure you give me a really good shot of that left eye, though.
Well, good shot. Let me talk about good shot. I have something called an image library and I think it's retouchers and finishers, it's imperative. They're shots that are either legal or I own them or I've taken them, I have an enormous library. I have a catalog of eyes that I can't even tell you, it's huge. All sorts of different eyes, positions, very much like we were shooting the other day kind of thing and I have those for exactly this purpose. So that catalog of eyes, I have a male straight-on. I mean, who's gonna use this for a catalog, no one's gonna use this shot. But I have shot of a blue-eyed male straight-on that I could easily strip in there, easily. So that's part of that whole bag of tricks, so I don't want this to go unheard. Image library, it's full of bits of hair, eyes, eyebrows, all kinds of hair. Wig shots, all sorts of wig shots in all kinds of different positions. You could use mine, I'm gray, he's got gray hair, I like to use his hair a lot, also. What else? Hands. Very generic hands.
Textures, a gazillion and ten textures.
Lot of water.
Water. So part of putting out fires is actually, dare I say, owning, what do you call this thing? A fire extinguisher? I have lots of fire extinguishers all ready. I am prepared for the fire, I know it's coming. Bad makeup, oh, we get bad makeup all the time. Bad makeup, a lot of the fix is knowing tricks. So knowing tricks. Here's what I'm gonna suggest to you folks out there. Frequency separation, I'm all about frequency separation, it's one of the most powerful tools. Wouldn't you say? Every job we do now. Frequency separation is probably the singular most powerful tool I use in my career right now and most folks use it for beauty. I'm not even talking about beauty retouching, I'm talking about a whole 'nother thing. And I would like to suggest that some of you guys who are retouchers consider getting images like this. Go get a stock image, shoot your own, and fix it. Not when you have a job, do it now, because if you do this assignment on your own and you figure it out, this is hard by the way. I'm telling you, this is hard, and I'm pretty good. This is hard. If you can do this, you won't ever have to worry. You'll get a job, someone will say, "Oh, I need this," and you'll be like, "I got this" and you'll whip out your guns and you will take care of it.
That'd look good in a portfolio. If you don't have something that's been sold or bought, maybe go to a stockhouse and get a problem and then fix the problem, and then you can do a before and after on that cause it's not a movie star, it's a stock shot.
This is genius. I have never seen this ever in anybody who's interviewed with me to be a retoucher or to come on board is the fire portfolio. So imagine you do this, those of you that want to get started and you're trying to impress, first of all, you're acknowledging that fires exist. So you're already saying, "I know what's going on." You want a list of what I would love to see? I would love to see this, fix this stripe to a solid, do a solid to a stripe. I would love to see a eye shot that is fixed. You guys can get that on Adobe stock for 10 bucks. Get that on Adobe stock for 10 bucks and retouch it, put it in your book. I would love to see you use frequency separation to clean up the makeup. Preload your portfolio with problems. It's not very sexy. It's not like, "Ooh, I did this composite one sheet." But, man, is that practical and I'd love you for it. If someone came to me with this and they understood our problem, I'm gonna give you another one. Matching grain. So have a very grainy, low-res background that you put someone in front of and make it homogenous. Do the hard, boring, street-sweeping work of the industry you wanna be in. I don't know, if you're a fashion person, handle a fashion problem. If you're a wedding person, handle a wedding problem. And pre-do it and handle a problem. I'm not talking about some pretty, beautiful final result, I'm talking about something very, very practical. Makeup malfunction, oh. We're gonna talk about the hairy arm in a minute in another segment. And then I'd like to, we're almost done with this one section, but I really want to take a moment to talk about the not enough time. This happens all the time, that you are on a job and you have not been given enough time. I have been on many, many jobs where I have, as I've said earlier, I have four or five women who are over 40 and they're going in a composite, oh, and we're gonna change the wardrobe color and the spread was done wrong and it's due in three days and it's a $100,000 buy. Okay, that's a lot of pressure, but you know what I was really good at, if I can toot my own horn for a second?
Please, toot away.
Is raising my hand and saying, "I cannot do this by myself." So I didn't struggle with that. I didn't go there and not sleep all night and have my hair fall out and sweat and get an ulcer and realize I wasn't gonna finish this job. I said, "This is awesome, let's get this job done, "and you need to hire three people." And that's my job. It is my job to say no, it's not enough. Now, I know in the news, there are often stories about magazines with people with multiple hands and multiple legs and mistakes, and you see it on magazines. That retoucher didn't have enough time. That's what that's about. It is your job as the retoucher, if it's in your hands, it is your job and if you can't do it, you've gotta raise your hand. So my point on this is if there is a fire, you need to say there is a fire.
I got called in on a job, it was a big job for an online show and it was season two, so they're throwing a lot of money at it. And it was character sells, so each character in this show and there might've been a dozen or more, so now I have at least 12 pieces of art.
Tell them what a character sell is.
A character sell is each poster has a picture of the character.
One character, yeah.
One character, so 12 characters in the show, you got 12 pieces of art, times vertical times horizontal times station domination, so it got up to 130 pieces of art. Now, this shop that took in this great big job wanted to go with a cheaper retoucher.
Oh, I remember this one.
Yeah. So, they called in this retoucher and go, "We have all this stuff to do. "Here's our start date, here's our finish date." And things went squirrelly. I think he hired the job out cause he couldn't do all the work, so he hired it out to his friends and below his ability level. So I get called up at a screaming dead run, "Save us." So I come down and I was like, "Okay, so you have "mediocre retouching on 24 pieces, it's Tuesday, "by Saturday, you gotta have 130 pieces done, right?" "Yep." "Okay, you're gonna need a really good production manager." So I called up my buddy and I was like, "You gotta get down here, man, we gotta handle this." She comes on down and they're like, "Okay, well we just wanna design "a couple things while we're doing it." And I'm like, "You blew it, man. "Y'all gotta smooth right off now "and let us get to work, just give us room. "I'll dig you out of this "and I'll get you on your deadlines."
If you don't pile on top of us.
Yeah, you've had your go at this, you're done. So she and I sat there and we're like, we started doing a little subdivide and a little management, here's how much time I got and who do you need and who can we call and who can fix this, and I was like, "Just tell me which one of these pieces of artwork "goes into all these different things." And she was like, "Just make this, "it goes into these 30, I got it." And she and I, we just hammered it out. Saved the day. But it's knowing that and recognizing that and speaking up.
And saying no. I think many folks out there for new jobs, you're afraid. You're afraid to say no, you've got a job and you don't wanna say it, it is your job to say no. And I will tell you, at the agency with the big TV spread, when I said "Great, I need three retouchers," they said, "Fantastic, do you know anybody?" And I said, "Absolutely, and I will manage them." They didn't say no. They didn't say, "Oh, you gotta do it yourself." They said sure. And I can't tell you how many shops I'm at and folks just sleep there all night and they struggle and they just don't say, "Hey, wait a minute." So that goes back to the earlier time we talked about your network. Have a network, have a network of people. You look like a rockstar. He looked like a rockstar when he brought in folks to finish the job. You're still solving the problem, it's gonna cost them more money, but you'll get the job done.