• Viknesh Silvalingam

How to break down the silo mentality on a film set.


A film production unit consists of many departments such as: Art, Camera Lighting, Wardrobe department, and so on and so forth. Although each department is very different in how they operate, separately they all have a common objective, which is to make sure that the director's vision for the film comes to fruition. Unfortunately, certain members of the departments are inclined to withhold information or knowledge from other individuals from the same department or the production entirely. This informational bottleneck results in inefficiency, as different departments may be working with different understandings for the project's completion. They can also affect a crew's morale with profound negativity and of course the overall quality of the film. This is often referred to as a 'Silo mentality. (1)*' Sometimes the crew might be aware of the issue but are unable to solve it. The Silo mentality is making a comeback despite classic film making which encourages more collaboration. In the branch of documentary filmmaking however modern-day collaboration is not lost in the article entitled Documentary and Collaboration: Placing the Camera in the Community(2)*, Elizabeth Coffman mentions,

"Getting one's story told-well told- is more affordable now too...These communities are actively seeking documentary filmmakers just as many filmmakers continue to solicit these communities for storytelling access and support."


This Silo effect occurs when separate departments or teams within an organization don’t have a system to communicate effectively with each other – and productivity suffers because of it. One quintessential example of the silo effect is when two departments are working on practically identical initiatives, but neither of them is even aware of what the other is doing. There was a moment many years ago when I was directing a short film back in Singapore. I had absent-mindedly requested both my art department and prop department to get fake blood for a crucial scene. In Singapore such props are rare unless you know where to get them, you'll end up spending a good chunk of change. I ended up with 2 gallons of fake blood when all I needed was just 50 ounces. Such miscommunications are not rare even in major studio productions.

Daily or (at the very least) weekly meetings can help many productions ensure that everyone is informed of what other departments are working on. Especially with large production units, discussions of larger goals during these meetings can also help managers decide how to best share work among departments – which gives the crew unique opportunities to collaborate and form a sense of camaraderie. Sometimes silos develop because of differences in opinion or down barriers between department heads over priorities. This is another thing that can be overcome with an open communication workflow – as opposed to just one or two department heads as the only people who really know what’s happening production wide.


The Martini is a tool for both on and off set collaboration disrupting the silo mentality. Not many film production software would foster healthier communication between teams. This is the reason why The Martini is the easiest (and quickest) solution to appease any filmmaker itching for better communication within their crew. Please do subscribe to my Newsletter and follow me on social media Twitter and Instagram to discover more about this software and how it will help in your film producing endeavor.


-- Author’s Notes/References

(1) How to Fix Workplace Silos in 2020 [without starting over]; “https://dispatch.m.io/workplace-silos/”last viewed 20 Aug 2020 (2) Documentary and Collaboration: Placing the camera in the community; "https://www.jstor.org/stable/20688616?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents"


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