Not everyday on a film set is easy or fun – sometimes you have to earn your paycheck. Day 4 of the sci-fi feature film Assassinaut was one of those days where you keep filming and keep grinding until you have your shots in the can, even through all the curveballs thrown your way.
Filmmaking Tips and Advice
Brandon Tonner-Connolly with Alicia van Couvering write excellently about “The Seven Arts of Working in Film: A Necessary Guide to On-Set Protocol.” The seven arts being:
Imagine that you are in a dark cave with a group of people, and all of you are running around in different directions. In a corner of the cave is a flashlight, which is spinning through the room.
Suddenly, the flashlight lands on a single person. Everyone stops. Until that person does his or her job, no one can move forward.
At some point during the shooting day, that flashlight will land on you. Everyone will be looking at you and waiting for you to do your job, or the production will stop moving. That flashlight can feel like a warm spotlight or it can feel like the high beams of a speeding car, fixing you in its headlights, determined to mow you down. It all depends on how well you understand your job and the jobs of others around you.
This is one of the best guides to setiquette (set etiquette) I’ve ever read, so if you feel you’re still a little green on set, drop what you’re doing, read it, and savor every word.
Nobody is perfect – I’m certainly not – and there’s always room for improvement. As we wrapped the short week 1 on Assassinaut, I spent an after-wrap run thinking about, “What could I do better?” After some reflection, I came up with five ways I could up my game as we head into week 2.
In case you haven’t heard, I’m currently working on a feature film called “Assassinaut” and am writing about my experience as the 1st AC. I took time this weekend to create a page that collects all of the posts in one spot and helps you keep track of our production.
So head here to catch up on the posts and read all future posts.
“Dolly on the move,” was a familiar phrase on Day 3 of Assassinaut. The camera spent all day either stuck on sticks or being pushed & pulled on dolly as we shot coverage of an important criss-crossing table conversation scene.
Assassinaut, the feature film I’m working on as 1st Assistant Camera, has wrapped on a good day 2 which included dissecting a frog, chicken beauty shots, and amazing hustle by crew, cast, and everyone involved. It was stew, not soup.
It’s day 1 on the feature film Assassinaut which I’m working on as 1st AC. And at the beginning of any shoot, there’s always anxiety, dread, and doubt, but it all gets washed away as soon as you blast off and start rolling on the first shot.
Finding out everything works is always a relief at the camera prep while you learn the gear, meet your team, and get ready for Day 1 – there’s no turning back now…
The AC’s battlefield is behind-the-lens. While I prep to step onto that front, I want you to join me for the adventure as I post a daily production diary of my experiences working on the feature film “Assassinaut” for the next six weeks. Day 1 is tomorrow, but camera prep – and Day 0 – is today.
Todd A writes a damning account of his time working at RED, the digital cinema camera company:
I have a post drafted in my blog titled “My birthday gift to myself this year: Retirement.” It’s dated February 26, 2012. At that time, I’d been working in the online marketing (web) department at RED Digital Cinema for about 5 months. I was sick of complaining about it to my friends and family. I didn’t want to be that guy who is always bitching about his job but never doing anything about it. Yet, I remained at RED for two more years. How is that possible?
Ouch – he already wanted to leave after only 5 months.
It’s surprising to hear such incendiary remarks considering the passion and devotion that usually surrounds RED’s users and fans. However, within the context of founder Jim Jannard’s forum posts and his recent exit into the shadows, it’s unsurprising to hear Todd speak out against, “the president making announcements on the community forum before the employees knew” and writing:
After the stressful product launches in December 2013, things quieted down enormously. Almost too enormously. It was quiet like “this is bad for business” quiet. But I knew NAB — the major broadcasting convention — loomed in April and I knew RED was bound to surprise all its employees with its plans for the show. “Keep the crises rolling” and all that.
Todd goes on to describe broken promises for bonuses and equity, long hours, and an unhealthy lack of organization. And in the comments, someone else named “Brian” added:
I was at RED from the start for 4 years . It is a good characterization of the place. Easy to understand why none of the first employees are no longer there anymore.
As RED matures from the disruptive force it was several years ago into a major player on the digital cinematography field, it’s going to have to address the problems and negative experiences of employees like Todd and Brian – even if they are in the minority.
(Todd wrote another post, too, about how companies can avoid the mistakes he encountered at RED.)