Not for a union grip who's making his living. He doesn't need to care about the integrity of the scene where the lead actor experiences an epiphany. He just needs to know how to place the lights and rig shit better than anybody else on the set. Are you going to bump him off the set for the passionate artist?
I would. I guess what I said needs to be revised a bit--of course I want somebody who is damn good at their job. But I do want everyone to care about the integrity of the movie they're working on. I want everyone involved more creatively. Yeah, there are the people who just do the job, like any other job, lugging things around with no real care about the specific movie they're working on. But this is not the set that I want to run. Not to mention, I will always want to work with a small crew instead of a large crew. I try to avoid situations where I'd need to hire a guy just to lug things around without thinking about anything. All I have experience with at this point is independent film, where your sound guy can help you carry this thing and can give his ideas on the scene and can suggest an interesting angle or help out with location scouting, etc. Now, maybe that doesn't make him an artist, but he's still working on a piece of art, and should care about its artistic integrity. I don't want the vibe of "I'm the cinematographer, I'm not gonna do this other job, I'm not gonna lug this around, or help with sound..."
This is great if you're a student filmmaker. Even if you are a student filmmaker making your first serious short film, you hire the best DP in town or the best Production Designer in town. They don't necessarily need to love your movie, though it helps. From my experience, they mostly just want to work.
What's the best DP in town who's not an artist who cares about the artistic integrity of what he or she is working on? Damn right I want the best, but not in exchange for a cold attitude. And if they don't love the movie, then I want them involved in making it better.
It's just that enthusiam does not equal care. Enthusiam equals "omigosh, like, movies are so cool and I think it would be, like, interesting to work on one?"
If you pulled people off Universal City Walk and pointed a camera at them and told them they'd be on American Idol, that's the common response. You need professionals, first and foremost, who will do the job.
A lot of behind the scenes docs (i.e. Lord of the Rings) make it seem like everybody is one big creative happy family. In the end, everybody is doing a job as best as they possibly can. That's caring. Enthusiasm for the movie motivates them to do their job even better.
The only people I can think of who are truly about "This Is Our Movie, This Is Our Work of Art" are Andy Warhol and his crew of merry artists.
I'm not even talking about random people off of Universal City Walk--I'm talking about people who think that they're interested in filmmaking but are really just film fans, who have tons of enthusiam but no will to do all the non-glam things movie-making. It's hard freakin' work, and a big committment. That seems to fly by most people's heads, in my experience, which, granted, is not vast with regards to professionals.
I certainly believe that there was that vibe of a big happy creative family on the LOTR set. That paragraph, as far as I can tell, proves exactly what I'm trying to say, except that to me, "enthusiasm" just has a negative connotation of empty excitement. "Passion" is what I'm looking for over my idea of "enthusiasm." So I want a crew who care about the movie, which helps them to do their job better, over "the best DP in town" who doesn't give a shit. Especially in that case, since the Director/DP relationship is one of the most important on set.
And hey, what's wrong with my wanting to be like Andy Warhol and his merry band of artists? I might not be as bi-fucking-zarre, but I would like my crew to be just as merry. I do not in any way mean to imply that I would want my film set to be any less professional than a "real" movie set. Perhaps my description sounded like it'd make for a sloppy film set, with a bunch of random friends just throwing in ideas. But really, it's very organized, and at the same time, it's very organic. It's a small crew, with very good communication. There are no confusing politics, there are no manipulations of anybody, no behind-their-back stuff. It's actually a very streamlined, very smooth thing to be involved in.
I take it upon myself to know every job there is on a movie set, and I'm prepping each of my crew members as well as I can, and training them myself, so that they do have knowledge of what they're doing. With this small of a production, it works, and it works very well, and leads to a purity in the artistic endeavor that I love. It's just this merry band of people out there making the movie that they want to make, with no one else to answer to. What helps is having a LOT of pre-production, which we've had, so that when we get on set, we won't be messing around.
But hey, I guess I won't really know until I get there, and maybe I am just be idealistic or naîve, but I personally see nothing wrong with this. Maybe it all depends on the specific people involved, and doesn't work in all cases--but I am so very confident in my crew that I feel very comfortable going into this production and having great vibes and a strong involvement from everyone. We've all got a responsibility to ourselves to make a movie that we would all be proud to have been a part of, not just to show up and do our job (which most "enthusiastic" people can't even manage to do, it seems).