Hello and welcome to Film Pro Productivity & Success, the podcast that helps film professionals and other creative people to live a more focused, effective and HAPPY life. My name is Carter Ferguson and this is EPISODE 118 – THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAIL
The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail. Charles R. Swindoll
The devil’s in the detail or "The devil is in the details" is an idiom which indicates that although "something may seem simple, the details are in fact complicated and likely to cause problems". It comes from the earlier phrase "God is in the details", expressing the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly.
I can think of countless occasions when this idiom could’ve come in to play but I’ll give you just a few examples from this year. I’m currently shooting on a tv show, which I wont name for legal reasons, but I was asked to stage an action sequence where someone is shot in the chest and collapses to the ground. This is a relatively simple affair which could be done with a thin mat or knee pads, but when I was told this, I thought it didn’t quite ring true. The production is slightly heightened stylistically and I suspected that perhaps there was more to the thing. So, I was on set staging something a couple of nights ago and mentioned to the director about this future killing. He looked at me surprised and explained that the guy was shot between the eyes and falls straight back. This means that he’d need a deep crash mat to fall back on and that the gun fired at him, would have to be done in a different shot, not simultaneously with the action. – Had I listened to production I would’ve turned up with entirely the wrong thing kit. This minor detail, the thinking that a killing is just a killing and its really easy would have led to some serious problems on the day. The devil is in the details and that detail was damned important.
Strategy equals execution. All the great ideas and visions in the world are worthless if they can't be implemented rapidly and efficiently. Good leaders delegate and empower others liberally, but they pay attention to details, every day. Colin Powell
One of my regular listeners is local Scottish filmmaker Ryan Hendrick and he came across this particular problem in a scene in his latest feature film, Mercy Falls. I don’t think he’ll mind me talking about it here. So, there was a scene where one of the female cast was going to be in underwear in a hotel room. Nothing seedy, just a private scene in the world of the film. Ryan decided it was best just to let the costume designer and the actress herself decide what she would wear in the scene. Sounds logical, sounds like he was being gentlemanly and so on. Totally makes sense. So, it comes to this scene during filming, he’s not seen what she’s going to wear, and he starts shooting it, up until the point where the actress had to turn and leave the scene, when he realises that she’s in a thong, and well let me just say that it revealed a bit more of her bottom than he was expecting. It’s far too late though to do anything about it. So, anyway, he completes that scene but later on in the film the underwear is seen again, nothing seedy about it, just the way the script went but he takes that opportunity to change the bottoms of her underwear to less revealing shorts instead. And that was that. Until he gets to the edit and remembers the earlier costume blunder. One that if he’d taken some control of before filming, he would’ve been able to circumvent in the first instance. And he had a devil of a time solving it. He tried to cu round it, but didn’t have an option, he considered digitally covering her as she exits with the same shorts she wears later on, but that’s a nightmare. In the end he looked at his edit and realised that he actually didn’t need the scene at all, so it was solved that way. The details of the underwear choice weren’t the reason the scene was cut but by cutting it solved a problem that he had sweated blood over.
Productivity and efficiency can be achieved only step by step with sustained hard work, relentless attention to details and insistence on the highest standards of quality and performance. J. R. D. Tata
That’s just too examples but there are millions I could reference. This is the line in a contract or agreement that you issue or sign which gives away your power or your ownership over something you create. Two thirds of the contracts originally issued on my feature film Fast Romance had to get re-issued after we’d completed shooting when the DOP Ross Gerry and myself spotted that they’d been issued in error by, well I won’t name them, but a key member of the production company, who’d never understood what she was doing in the first place and sent out the wrong versions. If she’d taken the time to understand them in the first instance, we wouldn’t have had to resolve the issue after we’d completed. I could go on but you get the idea. Small mistakes can create mountains of work later on in whatever process or task or situation you find yourself in.
If you don’t take care of these details, the little intricate parts of whatever it is that you do, that may never be fully appreciated by others later on in the process but that will bloom into serious issues if you miss them, then whatever it is you are doing could fall apart, or at the very least become an unmanageable problem or a tremendous pain in the ass for you to sort out later.
Other details that you may not consider, also have an impact on your success. These are things like remembering people’s names, thanking others for their contributions or keeping a secret, small acts of kindness and thinking about others. These details aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you consider this subject, but they are the little things that enrich the lives of others.
To some extent you need to experience failure based on this premise in order to avoid larger problems later in life but that’s no real issue if you are willing to fail your way forward as they say. One thing you could consider, and this is exemplified by many filmmakers that make short films in the same tone as the feature they later put together, but one thing to consider is creating a minimum viable product to test out your theories or your ideas before going all in to make it happen.
Failing forward is the ability to get back up after you've been knocked down, learn from your mistake, and move forward in a better direction. John C. Maxwell
That’s todays call to action. If you have something big you want to do, what’s the smallest version of that thing that you can put together right now, that will teach you valuable lessons from which you can learn how to do it better next time.
Attention to detail is the secret of success in every sphere of life, and little kindnesses, little acts of consideration, little appreciations, little confidences, . . .. they are all that are needed to keep the friendship sweet. Hugh Black
In next week’s show I’ll be doing another show that was prepped prior to lockdown. It’s been researched and written by Christina Littleson and it’s all about Technology Addiction. Finally perhaps I can come up with a solution to my YouTube addiction!
I hope to see you there but in the mean time I’ll end with some words from John Wooden who said It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.
Now take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!
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This episode is sponsored by the INTERESTING PEOPLE podcast.
Season 9 Executive Producer: Christopher McPhillips from Artos Digital
2-time winners of 'Social Media Agency of the Year at the Prestige Awards; Artos Digital specialise in marketing communications, coaching and personal branding. Owner Christopher McPhillips launched the business from his home in Bathgate and now works alongside his wife, Electra, for specialised event management and fundraising. Enjoying a broad portfolio of clients over the years, ranging from established enterprises to start-ups - a good fit for Artos Digital given their adaptable and agile approach. Christopher and Electra have combined their talents for three significant clients this past year: Reconnect, a SCIO who run the Regal Theatre in Bathgate; Pro2 Wrestling in Ayr; and Puppet Animation Scotland in Edinburgh.
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Music By: Music by A Himitsu
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