I come from a long background of theater and stage work. But recently, I knew I wanted to shift gears and move into the world of film. One would think there are many similarities between these two arms of the entertainment world, but there are numerous differences as well. In theater, you rehearse and rehearse in order to get everything to come together and flow in this non-stopping fake reality that we create in front of the eyes of an audience. For a good 2-3 hours, you are immersed in that world. For film, you plan and plan to make sure you cross every 't' and dot every 'i' so that you can come together on set, work moments out of order, create magic that is fleeting and then the moment is gone as quickly as you started. Some may find my comparison trite, but it's sort of apples and oranges.
Sure, I was able to bring my background to this new platform - but boy did I learn much along the way. I assembled an amazing team combined of people that have been doing it forever along with those that (like me) came from theater or were completely new to the experience. What we were able to accomplish in just two days was (if I can be so bold to say) so inspiring and gave me a new appreciation for so many people involved in film.
Here are just a few things I'll take with me from this experience:
1) From now on, I'll never look at credits of the cinematographer the same way ever again. You need one that has the eye of an artist, the patience of Job, and can fulfill a director's vision while bringing his own into play. Jeff Turick was all of that and SO much more. He brought an incredible professional team to our project and I am forever grateful.
2) Make sure you choose an AD that has been doing this for years, can answer your question before you ask it, and has a voice that can be heard down the street. I had that ten fold.
3) When looking for your designers, you want those that are confident in their abilities, but also not afraid to shift gears if you ask them. A production designer that thinks of so much more than simply set design; instead thinks of everything that is happening around the production on set. Costume, makeup, and hair pros that work as a well-oiled machine not only doing amazing work, but getting those actors to set on time. I think I was spoiled my first time out of the gate.
4) There can never be too many people willing to be production assistants on set. Those extra hands can come from producers who (like you) want to see the most amazing work accomplished (and to stay on schedule); high school filmmakers who long to make this a career and will give their all to assist in any way they can; the people who own the home you have invaded as your location; or even the photographer who changes hats depending on what he is needed to do. Not a single complaint was heard from the awesome people we had filling those spots this weekend.
5) Never underestimate the power of food on a set and how it can aid in a pleasant atmosphere - keeping everyone motivated. Lucky am I to have had Craft Services that took us from breakfast to dinner and everything in between! Sweets, healthy food, hot meals…and not one Pizza in sight!
I'm thrilled to be a part of this industry and to continue learning all that I can. Moving from production to post-production brings on so many new challenges and adventures. And naturally - more money is needed to continue to work towards completion (so yes, a crowd sourcing project is in our future). I will continue to work hard, learn much, and realize that I don't know it all: but it sure is fun to be 45 and still gaining new knowledge.