Yesterday was the End-of-Shooting Party of the Flammenrausch-Production and for this I got a t-shirt with my well-used sentences as 1st A.D. during the shooting... So, this blog-entry is something about shooting experiences and what I´ve learned all over the years as 1st A.D./Unit Production Manager, Cameraman and Director:
1. Drehen ist Krieg (shooting is war)
2. Leben ist Luxus (life is luxury)
3. Film ist Betrug (film is fake)
4. Willkommen beim Film (welcome in the film business)
1. Shooting is War:
It´s all about fighting, fighting against yourself, fighting against the time, fighting against the financial loss, fighting again the weather... the gaffer fights against tired eyes, the actors fight against ignoration, the camera fights against the technical conditions, the writer fights the director, the producer fights against creative decisions and the director fights them all...
2. Life is Luxury
If you´re on project, you have no life. Pre-Production is filled your time with details, questions, self-doubt, canceled locations, canceled men-power, wrong weather expectations... In Production you´re 16 hours of the day minimum before-, on -and after- the shooting... 20 hours are often more realistic. At this time you spend your time with details, questions, self-doubt, sick actors, injured team-members and wrong weather expectations... In Post-Production you´re at least two months busy with getting the film finished and your life starting to reclaim your time with everyday matters like family, parters, friends, self-doubt, canceled relationships, canceled company contracts and wrong weather expectations.
3. Film is Fake
At the beginning of your project you have to comunicate your idea to the team. It´s vital that everybody knows your ideas of the scenes, they should become trustful in you. They should get the feeling that you are responsible and that you know what you are doing even if you not. If you appearendly get lost on the set, you get to the point that everybody starts to feel responsible for the project and take over the directors role... never let this happen unless you want a bad film!
So, if everybody trust you, everybody got involved and everybody knows the scenes, it starts to get to the point that things go easily to shot. SFX looks good ´cause they know their position and their timing, actors have their marks and trust you in directing them because you are in charge. Cameraman knows that you are responsible of the amount of the shots that you need in the edit afterwards... So, nobody starts to get nervous about lambs that could be in frame, about continuity matters and jump over camera-axis... because everybody trust you and everybody can concentrate on that job for that she /he is hired for... This leads to the creation of the perfect illusion.
4. Welcome to the Film-Business
If you get really used to failures and victories after a lot of years you get the right attitude to face this kind of things like zen. Mostly problems appear without warning an that´s the point where you can show how tough you got over the time. In the first moment you have to calm yourself down, let the shock pass you by like a cloud on the blue sky... and then start to get practical... solve the problem with improvisation, short things down, replace things without consideration... think big... As director you are responsible for the story, not for the shots, not for the actors ego, not for the producers budget... just for the story. This is the big responsibility that you take... And if you screw it up... Never, ever will anybody work with you again. Always keep that in mind and do your best. If you get this far, to leave all the problems, desires and selfserving behind you, then you are welcome to the film-business!