So here we are, the halfway point. That is both in terms of days and in terms of the shots we need. It is a milestone, one we quickly celebrated with a quick round of gin. It is incredible to think we are halfway done. As I try to come to terms with what that means (not a lot really) I thought I would write a post. I am trying to be a writer after all.
It all started with a boat trip. I had no idea what was coming, literally none. Whatever I thought, whatever made at home experience I had, it was all for nothing. Well, not nothing, that is a lie. I knew what a camera was, how lights worked on a basic level and how important sound recording was, especially as we have no time for ADR.
My first shock was just the sheer amount of people involved in a production. You know how many cast you will have, plus a few extras, but the crew? There were a lot of people doing specialised jobs that I had never heard of. Coming from an office background I normally roll my eyes at the person with a long and difficult sounding job title, but I have learned that in this industry they really are doing a vital role. Not all the time, but mostly.
The next big shock was the Old Director being let go. Less then two days in and we were going through a major upheaval. Worse, the suits upstairs were contemplating pulling the plug on the whole thing. And why not, if a production can’t keep its s@#t together for a few days, how likely is it you end up with a production at the end of the day? A little sweet talking by me (or just talking until people give you what you want so you will leave) and we were back on.
The New Director (whose nickname will forever will be The New Director) was a breath of fresh air. Yes Grinning Kitten and I managed to stumble our way through two days of shooting, but I am glad we didn’t have to do the whole thing.
I am amazed by how closely the producers and the director work together. In all honesty I had no idea what a producer did, save make a few phone calls and get things where they needed to be. Although this is true, the role is a lot more involved. The biggest part seems to be reconciliations between actors and director. The both being brushed with the term ‘artistic’ they both have an idea how they want to do something. Luckily these types of arguments have been few and far between, and I always have both ‘I wrote the thing and it should be this’ and ‘let’s roll the D20 to decide’ trump cards to play. Can you still say trump card now?
Also, if you are going to try and record something make sure you get a good light and camera crew. Nothing ruins a production quick then awful lighting and out of focus footage. If your crew is not great, make sure you schedule a lot of time for test footage before each scene. Luckily I was gifted with Tall Jackson and Short Round. These two are the only reason this thing looks professional!
Reviewing footage on a decent screen is a must. Yes you have those monitors on the floor, but it is not the same. We recorded everything in 4k (though I believe it will be shown in 1080), so having a 4K TV in the office was a must. It is only seeing it on a decent screen that you can get a feel for what could be wrong, both in terms of the footage and anything that may be out of place on the set (like say, an iPhone sitting on the table of a show set in a fantasy world, as a purely hypothetical example).
Get used to long days, filled with times when nothing is happening. I have never worked in a place where the work is so stop / start. As a producer I do not suffer as much as the cast, but it is still there. Bring books or a kindle!
Working for a production company is also difficult. Legal like to keep things far too under wraps, and the suits love to interfere with the work. I now understand why so many people walkaway from productions halfway through. There are so many people who want to do things a certain way, and who try to force you to do things you really don’t want to. Luckily The New Director, Grinning Kitten and myself are fairly robust characters who have told a lot of people to just f@#k off.
But the biggest surprise for me so far is just how much fun this is. I really am having a blast and learning something everyday. It is hard work, and even now we are halfway through we still have no guarantee the show will ever be aired. But rather than that being a bad thing, it spurs you on to make something people will want to watch, and is worthy of their time. It is a great, if scary, feeling.
Here’s hoping the second half is just as fun as the first 🙂