Tuesday Crew Day: Eric Douglas

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Tuesday Crew Day: Eric Douglas

Where are you from, where are you located now, and what are your ties to WV?

I was born and raised in West Virginia, grew up in Cross Lanes, and attended Nitro High School and Marshall University.  I left the state for nearly 14 years to pursue a career in the recreational scuba diving industry. I lived in California for a couple years and then nearly 12 years in North Carolina and returned to West Virginia in 2011. I now live in the small town of Pinch, just 10 miles or so outside of Charleston. 

What was your first job in film production and what was the experience like?

The company I went to work for in California was called Diving Science and Technology (DSAT). It produces all of the training programs and instructional videos for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). I was hired as a writer, but ended up doing pretty much whatever needed to be done. We produced a lot of instructional videos to teach people how to dive and teach instructors how to teach. My first time in the field on a video shoot was on the beach. I don’t remember what we were shooting specifically, but suddenly I was thrown into the middle of paid talent, the Director of Photography, grips, and our crew, along with lighting gear and boom mics. It was intimidating. I remember one of the actors sitting down beside me. She offered me a drink from her can and said, “Don’t worry, we’re all family here.” She told me I was going to be all right. I probably got yelled at a dozen times that day for not keeping the reflector still – on the beach, in the wind.

What was your last job and what were you responsible for?

My last job was as the Executive Producer for a training project that encompassed three locations in two states, with different crews over three weeks. The final product was more than two hours long. It was essentially producing a feature film, except we were teaching first aid and safety skills around water. We filmed in the National Aquarium in Baltimore, on a dive boat in the Florida Keys, and beside a freshwater lake. I wrote all of the scripts and worked closely with the Director and Directors of Photography to make sure the skills we were trying to teach were represented correctly. It involved a lot of master shots with numerous close-up cutaways to make sure the techniques were correct.

What advice would you give someone wanting to work in the film industry?

Get your foot in the door however you can and then volunteer for everything. Learn as much as you can about everything you can. I have a background in journalism and understood photography, but learned video production, lighting, video editing, and scriptwriting on the job as different projects came up. For me, the best education was doing it, getting yelled at, and then doing it better the next time.