Do you remember the first time you sat through the credits of a movie? As you sat watching the endless list of names scroll continuously up, what did you think?
Maybe you thought what it would be like to see your own name up there.
Or maybe you thought, “what’s a grip do anyway?”
Both would be legitimate reactions. They tap into a curiousness to learn more about the mystery of the film industry. The same mystery that surrounds the glamor of Hollywood and movie magic.
Where has the Movie Magic Gone?
I bet when you first decided to pursue film, you imagined set life would embody the same magic of the silver screen that caught your attention that day.
I wish that were the case, but it simply isn’t so — at least not most days.
On a short film I was shooting, I spoke about this with the director after he told me the amount of logistical problems he had run into. He lamented how he had wasted time dealing with petty issues instead of achieving his creative vision.
Later that day, as we wasted 30 minutes of time trying to use a furnie pad to block music coming from an overhead speaker, I turned to him and said, “Remember how we talked about the stuff nobody tells you in film school? About no magic in filmmaking?”
His reaction said it all: He turned around to the struggling furnie pad rig, pointed, and walked away shaking his head.
The Endless List of Names
I remember the first time I sat through the end credits of a film overwhelmed with the amount of people listed. The catalog of names was so long and so intricate that without my proper understanding, I started to ridicule it. My friends and I were making jokes and mocking titles like “2nd Assistant Assistant Director” as redundant and silly.
How naive I was. Blind to the fact that I was to become one of those names some day.
In the grueling conditions of crew work, it’s easy to forget how you ended up there in the first place. That kid in the theater with a budding dream transforms into an adult with bills to pay.
But it’s really the passion that makes you turn a blind eye to the troubles you face everyday.
The Great Satisfaction that You Work For
I now know the extreme dedication all those names have and had for their craft. The blood and sweat they pour into every hour on set humping cable or pulling focus can’t be measured.
As a result, I was undeniably proud of my own first on screen credit. I was proud again when I saw my name on TV for the first time. And then for a third time when my name appeared on a DVD case. On every project, I’ve had a huge smile on my face when I saw my name appear in the film.
What happens when you see your name attached to something is your passion for the job gets rekindled all over again.
That one line in the credits, amongst hundreds of other names, confirms you were a part of it. You helped make a film. You created something.
It’s the great satisfaction of the job.
You get transported back to that moment in the theater when you first realized, “hundreds of people do this as their life.” For a brief moment, you get to remember how it feels to be driven by that magic, by the dream, by the urge to one day be a part of something that inspires others.
And your name becomes attached to films that the next generation of filmmakers will watch through the credits and wonder, “what’s a grip do anyway?”
How did you feel the first time you saw your name in the credits? Were you proud? Happy? Indifferent? Let me know below.