When I was a staff producer at AT&T headquarters in the mid-nineties, I was executive producing and producing/directing about 20 shows a year.
One of my oldest friends, Karl Schurman, was a seasoned DP back then and I would frequently hire him. We were working on a job and on a second day of a two-day shoot I asked him if he could just re-shoot something quick that needed a new line added to the dialogue.
"It won't take too long. Could you just do it?" I repeated.
"You used the J word," he then answered.
"What do you mean," I said.
"Just, " he replied and then paused. I was silent too while I thought about my last sentence.
A smile grew on my face.
He was trying to tell me that what I was asking him was not a "just." The re-shoot would take time, energy, resources and it could throw off what we had planned to do that day.
But saying "just" when you want someone to do something is something that I did all time and Karl kept stopping me whenever I said it. When you are asking someone to do something the tendency is to make it seem like a trifle to them. Also, you don't want to abuse someone so saying "Just" let's you off the hook a bit. "It's just a little thing!"
Karl was great at getting me think in the other person's shoes. Now I (try to) do the opposite.
If Karl was still working in the business today I hope I would tell him,
"I know this is going to take time and you've brought so much to the table already on this. We need to do make a change from yesterday. Tell me how we could re-do it while keeping on budget and schedule."
Karl would know exactly what to do and do it.
After 30 years in the business, Karl is a teacher at a Waldorf school in New Hampshire.
photo: ftzdomino CC License.