Hollywood Manners Matter

by Lisa Bonet

Hollywood has, in the past few years, been voted into the top ten as America’s most mannerly city, an accolade that some have viewed with a certain derision. This is the movie capital of the world, after all, where business is cutthroat and deals are made and broken over breakfast. Hollywood is a paradox however: alongside the blockbuster mentality of the studio system is a city of good will and concern for all and this is what makes it such a special place to visit and to work in.

A Positive Impact: The Community and Beyond

An article in the Sun Sentinel focused on the helpful police officers who deal with the cosmopolitan mixture of people living close to or on Hollywood Beach. The professionalism of the law enforcement was seen as one of the reasons Hollywood achieved its good manners accolade, as problems are dealt with and overcome and people are helped when they need help. Another factor was thought to be the helpful employees of Hollywood who serve the public, in restaurants, and merchants trading in the city. Whether it’s the sunshine or the magic of knowing this is movie town, Hollywood is revealing a more socially conscious side to itself.

A heart-warming story of a movie producer reminds us of the positive impact of Hollywood on the world. Scott Neeson is a former head of 20th Century Fox International who decided that he wanted to begin a charity for deprived children in Cambodia, to offer them education and a better quality of life. Nesson was awarded the Harvard School of Public Health Q Prize in 2007 for his work and Forbes magazine also recognized his efforts in Cambodia. The children he helps call him papa and he has formed an attachment to many of them, handing them portraits of themselves so that when they leave their squalor behind, they will remember who they once were. Stories such as this reveal Hollywood’s moral pioneers, helping those less fortunate.

Social Etiquette Matters

Social etiquette in Hollywood matters for industry professionals. Surprisingly, television and film types like to show off their good manners at get togethers. The Hollywood Journal reported on Jill Effron’s dinners for colleagues who were unable to make it home for the holidays in their ‘Industry Impressions’ segment. Effron shares tips on how to behave, from responding quickly to your dinner invitation, to what sort of conversation to avoid (politics, unless it’s a political holiday event, as riling the other guests is simply not polite). She often asked guests to bring a side dish to accompany each meal and lamented the guest who was asked to provide a vegetarian dish and came with coleslaw. Effron explains how L.A can be quite a lonely place during the holidays for people, and that lunches and dinners bring folk together in a pleasant atmosphere of small talk and passing the greens when asked politely.

Good Manners on Set

Social and professional etiquette is also a factor on film shoots to ensure a smooth working environment and many tips exist to help crews make the most of their experience. The Black and Blue offers advice to camera assistants, such as using terms like ‘copy that’ to show you understand an instruction, introducing yourself to the team on the first day and waiting for higher ranking crew members to go first in the lunch line.

Set etiquette is an important part of the Hollywood movie business, according to Ron Dexter, an established cameraman. Among his top tips are being early for the call and using manners when you are being addressed. Another interesting word bandied around is ‘humble’, which is refreshing in this business and relates to people on set demonstrating a sense of being grounded and focused. You should be aware of what exactly is going on in your own department and not try to be a ‘hero’ on set, but to listen to instructions.

Gift Giving in Hollywood

According to CNBC, an American Express survey found that corporate gift giving was on the rise at the end of 2012, compared to the year before. Despite smaller budgets because of the post-recession, the U.S is spending more money in gift giving. Hollywood has always seen the importance of gifts, and flowers are often exchanged between film executives or to cast members on set. This has always been seen as a vital part of the business and represents good manners in an environment that sees vast amounts of money change hands on a daily basis. Increasingly, now corporate gift giving is taking a more creative turn, and focuses more on elegance and quality, with gifts such as silver engraved cuff links, chrome time converters and executive yoyos replacing traditional presents. The emphasis now is on quirky, memorable corporate gifts.

Manners matter in Hollywood. Whether it’s on the set, at dinner, downtown, or through gift giving, it’s important for the city, with its arguably tarnished reputation of the past, to project an image to the world that smacks of social etiquette.

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