“The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought.”
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War
I’m not exactly going to war. I’m not really going to fight in a battle. But the actions I’ve taken the past few days would have you thinking otherwise: I said goodbye to friends and family, got affairs in order I’ve procrastinated on, and packed up all of my electronics to keep me in touch when I’m away from my “temple.” I even stopped by some favorite restaurants to savor the taste.
But I’m not a soldier – I’m a camera assistant. And my battlefield is behind-the-lens.
That’s where I’ll be the next 5 – 6 weeks working as 1st Assistant Camera on a feature film called Assassinaut while sharing my experiences with you in a series of posts about it.
This is New Territory for The Black and Blue
This is something I’ve never done before and unlike anything you’ve read on The Black and Blue. It’s going to be an up-to-date production diary of my experience working on the film as it happens.
You’ll read about the fun times, the challenges, and any insights I glean from putting another feature film under my belt. The plan is to update daily – after wrap – with no limitations nor expectations. There may be some days where I tell stories while other days have a tip or trick to share. I can guarantee there will be a lot of behind-the-scenes pictures and I’m also hoping to do some video.
Seriously, this is new territory for me and I’m open to your suggestions on what you’d like to read. In the past, I’ve always written about my experiences after a long digestion period – this time around it’s going to be word vomit as soon as I swallow.
If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments!
So What is Assassinaut About?
It’s about kids on an alien planet.
It was pitched to me as a sci-fi film in the vein of Neverending Story, The Goodnies, and Mom and Dad Save the World. So while it features children in the leads, it isn’t meant to be a “kids movie.”
There are lots of practical effects including creatures, spaceships, and alien locales. It’s going to be awesome. And as we get into the swing of these blog posts, I will expand more on the story.
Gearing Up for Production
For now, I’m nervous, excited, and already tired.
Yesterday, I drove about 4 hours to check out the camera (an informal prep to make sure the camera isn’t a piece of junk) before it makes the trip down to central Virginia where we begin shooting tomorrow. Today, I will do a full blown camera prep with our lenses.
(Our camera is a RED Dragon with Kowa Anamorphic lenses. Full gear list to follow in another post.)
Pre-production on this film has been water circling the drain – starting slow only to speed up significantly in the past few days. I’ve been busy finalizing the camera package, making an expendables list, communicating with the director of photography and crew, and prepping my home affairs to operate without me for a month-and-a-half.
(We’re shooting all throughout Virginia where I live, however, none of the locations are in my area.)
Like the quote at the top says, you win the battle by preparing for it. In filmmaking, most crew will extol the value of pre-production. For us camera assistants, it’s no different. Today is crucially important to make sure the camera is in perfect working order before we roll Take 1 on Day 1 tomorrow. It’s also important to mentally prepare myself for the hard-work and long days ahead.
So, no, I’m not going to war. But I’m going to prepare like I am.
Will you join me for the rest of the adventure?