How to find a good, reliable crew

From my experience, finding a good production crew comes down to selling yourself as a filmmaker and making your project appear incredibly exciting - too exciting to turn down. The more ambitious your project appears, the better the crew you're likely to get on board. Those who aren't serious about pursuing a career in film will be filtered out and you will find yourself with an ambitious, hard-working group of people all committed to bringing your project to the screen. Essentially, don't be afraid to big yourself up! If you appear amateur, you will end up working with amateurs. If you appear professional, you'd be surprised with the caliber of people you can get on board.

Another key aspect of securing good, reliable crew members is quite obvious - ask around. The majority of the crew on my previous production were brought on purely through their connections to other crew members. For example, our Director of Photography brought on his own camera and lighting team (all of whom he had worked with previously) and our sound recordist and producer recommended a production designer whom they had worked with on a previous film.

Another piece of advice that I have for securing a solid, reliable group of people to assist with your production is to ensure that they get something in return. If you are a no-budget production and cannot afford to give payment, try to at least cover expenses so that they aren't losing out financially by attaching themselves to your production. If you can't afford to cover expenses, make sure that they are adequately rewarded in the future. A cut of festival rewards perhaps? Maybe an additional credit? Something that convinces them that investing their time into your production will be worth it in the end.

Keep your crew fed and watered on set, keep them happy. A happy crew is a reliable crew. A reliable crew will produce an amazing film. I've worked on a few productions where I have not been paid and where expenses have not been covered and the reason for my commitment has constantly been because the producer, director, assistant director etc have gone out of their way to ensure that I am kept happy on set. The same goes for the films I have made in the past. The crew has always been fed and watered, their expenses have been covered (as much as I can afford to cover anyway).

Finally, don't underestimate the guys with limited experience. I recently worked with a script supervisor who had never worked in that capacity before and had only worked on student productions in the past (in roles such as writer, director, cam op etc). He turned out to be easily one of the most gifted filmmakers I have ever worked with and the best script supervisor I have come across. There is a lot of untaped talent out there, people who are struggling to get their foot in the door. Don't rely purely on their experience. Interview them, speak to them about the role and give them a chance! You'll be amazed.