Here We Go Again

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We just finished up the second week of focus film shoots. It got here faster than I could have imagined and is passing by even quicker. Now I’m pretty much in one of two places. The editing lab or a film set.

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I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but along with writing and directing a focus film for our Production II class, one of the requirements of the Film and Video – Screen Directing MFA program is that we work on our classmates’ projects. This serves many purposes. First and foremost, it ensures that there are extra hands on set. Second, it allows us to take on various on set positions. It’s “trial by fire” as we take on responsibilities from Script Supervisor to Assistant Director. Finally, working on a set is a great way to observe how someone else directs. Personally I like to see what techniques work, how others prepare, and figure out how to use what I like when I direct my own pieces.

Last weekend I worked on Jerrod Howe’s film called, “Goodnight, Goodnight.” I’m not going to tell you what it’s about, because I don’t think it’s my place to do that in a blog. What I can tell you is that I served as script supervisor and assistant director. Now you see where those previous references came from.

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As script supervisor, my job is to maintain continuity and take notes on how closely the production is following the scripted work. For that job, my most important tools were number two pencils and a pencil sharpener that catches its own shavings. I am responsible for noting what action is being seen, when it is being seen and how long each scene runs. I also note if the director likes the scene, miscues or makes changes to the script, and continuity issues. Continuity is anything that affects how something looks from one scene to the following. The idea is that when you watch a movie you want to make it seem like no extra time has passed when you watch a single scene change camera angles.

I also served as assistant director (AD). This was more challenging than I had expected. The AD’s job is to nag. Those of you who know me know I’m one of the nicest guys in the world. Therefore most people don’t take me seriously as the bad guy. However, I did my best to be a pain in the backside. But really the AD’s job is to make sure that everything runs on time and that the director is free from distractions so he/she can get the best shot possible.

While performing my jobs, I watched Jerrod direct. I learned a lot. Jerrod is very organized. He put a lot of effort into making sure things would run as smoothly as possible, so that if any problems occurred on set they could be dealt with easily. He was also was very calm and was about to coax reactions from his actors using stories and metaphors.

This may sound boring, but this is good stuff. You should do it…seriously. I’m hoping I can take some of those traits and use them myself. But it boils down to one thing; in order to get better at the craft you love, you have to do it over and over. So I’ll talk to you after the next shoot, and hopefully I’ll pick up a few more tricks.