Heidi McLean: A Pioneer in Film and Video Crewing Services

Everyone can see opportunities, but successful people act on them. With a 2-year-old, a newborn, and a home under construction, Heidi McLean had every reason not to fill the need she saw in the film and video crewing services industry. But instead of making excuses, she went for it—starting a business that connected the film crews she knew from her freelance news work with the companies that needed them. Crew Connection‘s film and video crewing services started with just Heidi, incorporated a month later and hired its first employee within a year. Crew Connection and PayReel (its sister company) now employ over a dozen full-time people between them and consistently rank among the top Colorado Companies to Watch.

A few decades’ worth of experience provide some great tips for anyone looking to grow personally or professionally:

1) Be persistent

If it seems overwhelming at first and at many points after, that’s because it is. Take small steps. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving slowly, just as long as you’re moving forward.

2) Be Flexible

Sometimes progress is painfully slow, and sometimes growth happens so fast you have to scramble to keep up. Every stage of life and business brings its own challenges (which Heidi sees as opportunities). The sooner you accept that there will be endless challenges, the better. Just grow with it.

3) Be Willing to Evolve

The minute you settle for what is, you get behind and lose the joy of pursuing what could be. Crew Connection couldn’t get too comfortable operating with the phone lines and fax machines of its inception. With the launch of Crew Connection’s online database—which offers customizable online crewing—the business has evolved for the digital age. Being industry pioneers is hard, but a lot of fun.

4) Surround yourself with the right team

The luxury of being able to shut up is a direct result of being surrounded by advisors and team members who are smarter than you and whose strengths function well together.

5) Attitude is the ultimate trump card

For team dynamics, attitude trumps everything. If you have to choose between working with someone inexperienced with a positive outlook or one with all the training, but a sour demeanor, the choice is easy. You can develop skills, but a bad attitude is like poison—deadly and difficult to remove. Once it’s in the system, things go downhill fast.

About Crew Connection’s Film and Video Crewing Services:

Crew Connection connects you with video production crews across the country and around the globe. With more than 25 years of experience and thousands of shoots with film crew pros to our credit, you can trust our expert coordinators to match you with the right freelance video crew and equipment—every time.

How to Find International Crews on Crew Connection

Crew Connection is a custom software solution to an age-old issue—sourcing media pros in unfamiliar areas. And in case you haven’t heard, we’ve got international crews! Our database is stocked with freelance media pros from around the globe. The best part? Our in-house video industry veterans have vetted each and every one by hand.

Know what you need but aren’t sure where to start? Find and book a vetted media professional from Denver to New Delhi in minutes with Crew Connection. If you’re not quite sure what you need or if we have it, contact one of our crew coordinators to get matched up with the perfect drone operator in Stockholm or video editor in St. Thomas.

When you create a profile on Crew Connection, you can search video crews local to your next shoot location; narrow search results by services, camera type, and insurance; contact crews; send messages; review estimates; manage your projects; and track your invoices without ever leaving your personal account. No matter how big the crew, complicated the gear, or far-flung the locale—Crew Connection has what you need.

If you ever need assistance, our crew coordinators are always available via our website or over the phone at 303-526-4900 to offer advice and help you book your next freelance video production.

Wherever you need a video crew, Crew Connection is there.


About Crew Connection

Crew Connection logo

Crew Connection puts a suite of marketing tools at your fingertips. Get your demo reels, stills, gear, awards, and more in front of the biggest clients all over the world—for free. At Crew Connection we pay video and post production providers within 30 days of receiving your invoice so your work and your life are never interrupted. Need live assistance or want to add quality jobs to your pipeline? Our crew coordinators are on call around the clock. Sign Up on Crew Connection, call 303-526-4900, or email info@crewconnection.com.

Are You Managing Your Estimates Efficiently?

Remember that time you set up your Crew Connection notifications? (Oh, you haven’t yet? Learn how here!) Here’s where they really come in handy: knowing the second a crew completes an estimate that you expertly requested for your project.

When a crew submits an estimate for you to review, you’ll receive a notification according to your settings. To view it, log into your Crew Connection profile and find the estimate in the Under Review section of your Estimates tab.

Are you managing your estimates efficiently?

Take your time reviewing the estimate carefully! Look over each line item’s description, quantity, and price as well as details like location and date.

If you’re ready to approve the estimate, simply use the Accept button near the bottom of the page. Even after you approve an estimate, don’t hesitate to reach out to the crew to make sure everyone’s on the same page. If you need any changes made up to the day of the project, let your crew know and they will be able to do so via their company profile in Crew Connection. You’ll receive a notification once they’ve submitted an updated estimate for you to review.

Are You Managing Your Estimates Efficiently?

If you haven’t entered your billing information yet at this point, you’ll be routed to the billing page upon accepting an estimate. After putting in your info, you’ll be taken back to the estimate to accept it. If you choose to become a corporate client, your journey will stop at the billing information section and a coordinator will review your profile. If you have any questions about becoming a corporate client, don’t hesitate to contact one of our coordinators via our website or at 303-526-4900

If your invoicing system requires that a PO number be associated with your estimate, enter that just above the Accept button. You can always send that PO number to your crew coordinator in the future if you don’t know it at the time of accepting the estimate.

Are You Managing Your Estimates Efficiently?

More often than not, estimates need a little editing before they’re ready to go. Now is when you would use the Reject button. A popup will require you to enter the reason for rejecting the estimate. Take this opportunity to detail the change(s) you need—whether it’s a cost adjustment, a gear swap, or simply that the project has been cancelled. This information will be sent to the crew so that their revised estimate will be more on par with what you’re looking for. You’ll get a notification when the crew submits a new estimate.

Are You Managing Your Estimates Efficiently?

Don’t hesitate to hit that Reject button if you really do need changes to your estimate! Our crews don’t mind updating estimates or negotiating costs. They understand that you’ve got a budget to meet and they want the project to work out just as much as you do.

It’s important to keep your communication as well as your final approved estimate in Crew Connection so that when invoicing rolls around there isn’t any room for disagreement. If you need any guidance or help with a dispute, easily pull in a coordinator at any time using Crew Connection‘s chat box, our website, or via phone at 303-526-4900.


 

About Crew Connection

Crew Connection logo

Crew Connection puts a suite of marketing tools at your fingertips. Get your demo reels, stills, gear, awards, and more in front of the biggest clients all over the world—for free. At Crew Connection we pay video and post production providers within 30 days of receiving your invoice so your work and your life are never interrupted. Need live assistance or want to add quality jobs to your pipeline? Our crew coordinators are on call around the clock. Sign In to Crew Connection, call 303-526-4900, or email info@crewconnection.com.

 

How to Make Your Estimates Better

The only constant in the video production industry is change. Even a finalized project isn’t really final until it’s over. Crew Connection’s smart estimate system is built to handle whatever changes your client can throw at you—from inception through call time. 

Once a client accepts your estimate, it will be converted into a project that can be viewed in your Projects tab in Crew Connection. Once an estimate becomes a project, be sure to touch base with your client and whoever else is involved to make sure you’re all on the same page.

How to Make Your Estimates Better

If—or should we say when—changes are needed, it’s easy to edit your estimate in Crew Connection up to the day the project starts.

After messaging back and forth with your client on Crew Connection, it might become clear that the cool angle they want to capture requires a drone operator or you need to add a video editor to your crew for post-production changes. All you have to do is open the project in your Projects tab, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the Change to Estimate button. This will convert your project back into an estimate and you can start editing right there on the page!

How to Make Your Estimates Better

After you’ve added gear, changed the date, adjusted the cost, or made whatever additional changes your client requested; use the Submit button to send your client a notification that the estimate is ready for them to check out! For a refresher on how to create or edit an estimate, check out our tutorial here.

How to Make Your Estimates Better

If your client contacts you outside of Crew Connection to make changes, pull them back into the system by making their requested edits directly to the Crew Connection estimate. When a client accepts your estimate, they are legally bound to pay for the line items included in your estimate, which eliminates any confusion over what services your client will receive or what your net income will be.

Please remember that changes to your Crew Connection estimate can only be made up to the day the project starts. If you can’t avoid a last-minute change on set, it’s in your best interest to loop in a Crew Connection coordinator as quickly as possible. In the off chance that the on-set producer requests changes that the person who’s paying the bills hasn’t approve, we can back you up and help you handle the situation.


 

About Crew Connection

Crew Connection logo

Crew Connection puts a suite of marketing tools at your fingertips. Get your demo reels, stills, gear, awards, and more in front of the biggest clients all over the world—for free. At Crew Connection we pay video and post production providers within 30 days of receiving your invoice so your work and your life are never interrupted. Need live assistance or want to add quality jobs to your pipeline? Our crew coordinators are on call around the clock. Sign In to Crew Connection, call 303-526-4900, or email info@crewconnection.com.

 

Preventable Death Highlights Need For Camera Crew Safety

In 2014, Sarah Jones, a young camera assistant, was struck and killed by a train while working on the set of Midnight Rider.  For their part in what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) called an “entirely preventable” death, filmmakers faced criminal charges and the production company and individuals faced fines totaling $74,900. Sarah Jones’s death highlights the need to take camera crew safety concerns seriously—on movie sets and other filming projects alike.

To keep your camera crew safe:

Get permission to film.

Midnight Rider filmmakers had been denied permission to film on the tracks, but took what they likely believed was a low risk and filmed there anyway. When you’re dealing with safety, the stakes are just too high to make your own rules.

Consider temperatures.

July and August are some of the hottest months of the year in much of the US. Staying compliant with OSHA’s guidelines to provide water, rest, and shade keeps workers from getting heat related illness. It also prevents them from missing work and you from getting fined.

Budget and plan for safety measures.

The Sarah Jones Film Foundation (SJFF) encourages considering measures such as “on-set medics, security officers, fire department representatives, street closures” as necessities rather than luxuries. That means if you don’t have the funds or resources to keep your camera crew safe, you don’t have a project.

Download the Set Safety App.

Created in Sarah’s honor to promote safety on set, the app “gives users quick access to safety hotlines for reporting unsafe working conditions and excessive work hours.” Find it here for iPhone and here for Android.

According to the SJFF, Sarah’s death highlighted longstanding concerns about set safety—longstanding concerns that can only be wiped out with the video industry’s full commitment to set safety.


 

About Crew Connection

Crew Connection logo

Crew Connection puts a suite of marketing tools at your fingertips. Get your demo reels, stills, gear, awards, and more in front of the biggest clients all over the world—for free. At Crew Connection we pay video and post production providers within 30 days of receiving your invoice so your work and your life are never interrupted. Need live assistance or want to add quality jobs to your pipeline? Our crew coordinators are on call around the clock. Sign In to Crew Connection, call 303-526-4900, or email info@crewconnection.com.

We Make Project Estimates Easier

In the past, we’ve talked about how to use filters to find media pros that meet your project needs and how to reach out to them. Once you’ve found a good fit for your project and are ready to move forward, all you need is an estimate. Today we’ll show you just how easy that is with CrewCloud.

Once you’ve chosen which one of CrewCloud’s vetted media pros you want to work with, hit the Contact Crew button in the upper right section of their company profile.

Project estimates are easier with CrewCloud

A form will pop up where you can include your project details. If you don’t have it all worked out yet, don’t worry. Only the Subject and Message sections are required for you to send the form.

Project estimates are easier with CrewCloud

Our media pros are flexible, but it helps them know if they’re a good fit for your project when they have an idea of what you’re looking for. So if your details are indeed fuzzy, the Message section offers a great opportunity to explain more about your creative vision.  Include whatever you can: the type of  project (there’s a big difference between a corporate interview and a sporting event!), the general location, the timeframe, and any and all gear you might need.

Don’t forget to point out any unique aspects of your shoot. Do you have existing footage that this shoot needs to match? Do you need a makeup artist who does great zombie effects? Let your crew know!

The more details you can provide, the better. You never know—your media pro might even be able to help you catch any gear or do any planning you may have overlooked.

As soon as you send your message, the media pro will get a notification. You will get one in return (get a refresher on setting up notifications here!) when your message is answered. Visit your messages tab any time to view all of your correspondence. Unread conversations will show up bolded.

While you’re reading your messages, you’ll notice two buttons to the left that allow you to add a coordinator to the conversation or request an estimate.

Project estimates are easier with CrewCloud

Add a coordinator to the conversation if  you need help negotiating costs or have any questions. Use the “Request an Estimate” button to send a notification that you’re ready for an estimate to be drawn up based on your conversation. You can also simply shoot the media pro a message asking that an estimate be created.  You’ll get a notification when the estimate is ready to view.

We’re always working to improve CrewCloud and make the estimation and messaging process as simple as possible. The benefits of using CrewCloud are numerous, but perhaps the largest in this instance is the ability to keep a digital trail of your crewing history. If a conversation is taken outside of CrewCloud, we won’t be able to help with any miscommunications nor will we be able to make your job easier as your only approved vendor with a unique 30-day payment guarantee. 


 

About Crew Connection

Crew Connection logo

Crew Connection puts a suite of marketing tools at your fingertips. Get your demo reels, stills, gear, awards, and more in front of the biggest clients all over the world—for free. At Crew Connection we pay video and post production providers within 30 days of receiving your invoice so your work and your life are never interrupted. Need live assistance or want to add quality jobs to your pipeline? Our crew coordinators are on call around the clock. Sign In to Crew Connection, call 303-526-4900, or email info@crewconnection.com.

 

Are you making the right moves?

So your estimate just got accepted? Congrats! An accepted estimate means your project has a green light. You’re ready to roll. You’re good to go. You get the idea. (What’s that, you don’t know how to create an estimate?! Learn how here!)

As soon as you receive a notification (get a refresher on setting up notifications here!) that your estimate has been accepted, it will automatically be converted into a project. You can find that in, you guessed it, your Projects tab in Crew Connection. Your next step should be touching base with your client and crew to make sure all the final details are ironed out.

Are you making the right moves? CrewCloud estimates

What we want to dig into today is what to do if your project is rejected. Here’s how to handle a rejected estimate in a prompt and professional way.

First of all, the client will have to use Crew Connection to formally reject an estimate. Just like you, clients get busy. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard back on an estimate, send them a friendly Crew Connection message to remind them to either reject or accept your estimate so that things can move forward! Feel free to discuss changes with the client in Crew Connection, but unless they actually reject the estimate, you can’t make any edits.

If a client does reject your estimate, you’ll get a notification. Crew Connection requires the client to leave a reason why the project was rejected. If the project is simply cancelled, you don’t have to do anything. If it’s something else—like a changed date, additional gear, a new location, etc.—you’ll need to edit the estimate to reflect the client’s request.

If you need a refresher on editing or creating an estimate, check out our tutorial here. Once you’ve made the client’s requested changes, you have to submit the estimate again so that the client can see it.

Crew Connection‘s smart estimates and messaging make it easy to get your project started. Sign up for free in just minutes. Read our full tips and tricks series here to improve your productivity and book more jobs.


About Crew Connection

Crew Connection logo

Crew Connection puts a suite of marketing tools at your fingertips. Get your demo reels, stills, gear, awards, and more in front of the biggest clients all over the world—for free. At Crew Connection we pay video and post production providers within 30 days of receiving your invoice so your work and your life are never interrupted. Need live assistance or want to add quality jobs to your pipeline? Our crew coordinators are on call around the clock. Sign Up on Crew Connection, call 303-526-4900, or email info@crewconnection.com.

 

How to Contact the Right Crew for You

Every once in a while, you might come across a crew that you can’t contact directly on Crew Connection. Instead of a Contact Crew button, you’ll notice a Contact Coordinator button in its place. This simply means there is something unique about that crew and we want to make sure it doesn’t interfere with your project.

Here’s why certain crews might not be contactable and what you should do if you want to work with one.

The crew doesn’t have workers’ compensation

More and more of our clients are requiring that crews have worker’s compensation. If a crew doesn’t carry workers’ compensation because their state doesn’t require it, we just want to make sure to give you a heads up before you move forward with your project.

If you or your company requires workers’ compensation, it’s easy to narrow down your search results to only display crews with coverage. Just use the Narrow by Insurance Type button under the search bar on Crew Connection to find crews who fit your needs.

How to Contact the Right Crew for You

The crew is international

We love international projects—but we understand they often come with nuances that can derail a project if they aren’t managed. We like to remain hands on with international projects to ensure that communication, currency conversion, and cultural breakdowns don’t happen.

The crew is new to Crew Connection

Each crew in Crew Connection has been personally screened by our crew coordinators and has passed our rigorous vetting process. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we’ve had the pleasure of working with every single one of them. Not yet, anyway. If a crew is new to Crew Connection and we think they might need one shoot under their belts to learn the ropes, we like to stay involved to take the pressure off of them and make sure your project is a success.

If you found a crew you love but you can’t get in touch immediately, don’t worry! Just use the Contact Coordinator button.

How to Contact the Right Crew for You

A form will pop up that allows you to enter your project info. The subject line is automatically filled in with the name of the crew you’re trying to contact. Feel free to edit the subject, but don’t delete the crew’s name so our coordinators know who you’re trying to get in touch with.

How to Contact the Right Crew for You

After you submit your form, a coordinator will be in touch as soon as possible. If your matter is urgent, don’t hesitate to use our online chat feature, contact us online, or call 303-526-4900.

Not signed up for Crew Connection? Sign up for free today and get back to focusing on the creative work you want to do. Read more Crew Connection tips and tricks here


About Crew Connection

Crew Connection logo

Crew Connection puts a world of video service providers at your fingertips. In just a few clicks you can search, chat with, and book vetted crews local to your shoot—all on your own schedule. Rely on Crew Connection’s team of media experts to organize the crews and gear you need for multi-day and multi-location video projects anywhere in the world. Our crew coordinators are on call around the clock if you ever need live assistance. Visit CrewConnection.com, call us at 303-526-4900, or shoot us an email at info@crewconnection.com.

Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier

Just like everything else on Crew Connection, our estimates are smart. With descriptions that change based on the items you choose, a lightning-fast commission calculation, and an automatic net income calculator; Crew Connection is equipped to make the boring parts of your job faster and easier so you can get back to the creativity you crave.

How to use Crew Connection to create an estimate:

1. Create a new estimate.

There are two ways to create a new estimate in Crew Connection. First, you can visit the Estimates tab and use the “New Estimate” button on the left.

Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier

Another option is following the link that pops up in your messages when the client you’re corresponding with requests an estimate.

Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier

Either method will take you to a blank estimate that’s ready to be filled out with the project details.

2. Enter the project details.

A new estimate will already have the basic information about your company in the Crew section. In the Client section, you’ll be able to use a dropdown menu to select any client you’ve messaged or been included on a project or estimate with in the past.

Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier

In the next section, enter the project title, location, and start and end date. For a single-day shoot, make the start and end date the same. This information is required to submit the estimate to the client.

Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier

3. Select your camera gear.

The option to select cameras to be used on this project isn’t required but is recommended if it’s pertinent to the project.

Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier

4. Complete the expense details. 

We’ve built the Expenses section of your Crew Connection estimate to be as quick and easy to fill out as possible. The drop down menu under the Item column will give you a “bucket” that the expense falls into. Choosing the right Item will help invoicing go smoothly later on as well as determine what options you see in the Description column. These descriptions give you a great place to start but are fully editable to adjust to fit your unique item.

Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier         Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier

The best part about our smart estimates are that they calculate the amount you will net by accounting for Crew Connection’s commission.

Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier

Make sure that the number in the Qty (quantity) column is at least 1. A zero won’t let you submit the estimate. If you’re unsure about the number or price of the items, include that in the description. If you just want to add a note, utilize the Notes section.

Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier

5. Revise your line items.

Use the “+” icon to add line items, the trashcan icon to delete them, and the up and down arrows to change their order.

Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier

6. View your commission and net income. 

While you’re able to see your commission and net calculated automatically on your estimate, your client will only see the Total without any sign of adjustments on their version of the estimate.

Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier

7. Save or Submit your estimate. 

The Save button will store your estimate as a draft that’s viewable by both you and Crew Connection’s coordinators. At this point, you can still make changes to the estimate. When you’ve completed the estimate, use the Submit button to send the client a notification that the estimate is ready to review. Once it’s submitted, you won’t be able to edit the estimate until the client either accepts or rejects it in Crew Connection.

If a client gets in touch and asks you to make changes after you have submitted an estimate, remind them that you can’t edit the estimate until they either reject or accept it. If it’s rejected, you can make your changes and submit the estimate again. If accepted, you’ll still be able to make changes up until the day before the project’s start date.

Smart Estimates Make Your Job Easier

Crew Connections smart estimates make the math easy so you can get back to your creative roots. Sign up for free in just minutes. Read our full tips and tricks series here to improve your productivity and book more jobs.


About Crew Connection

Crew Connection logo

Crew Connection puts a suite of marketing tools at your fingertips. Get your demo reels, stills, gear, awards, and more in front of the biggest clients all over the world—for free. At Crew Connection we pay video and post production providers within 30 days of receiving your invoice so your work and your life are never interrupted. Need live assistance or want to add quality jobs to your pipeline? Our crew coordinators are on call around the clock. Sign Up on Crew Connection, call 303-526-4900, or email info@crewconnection.com.