Filmmaking is hard.
A creative endeavor with so much invested and involved often sparks opportunity for disaster on many fronts. Let me specify that claim.
In the past few weeks, I've learned several things which I hope to carry with me for the rest of my professional life. Traits have been underlined as essential in this business (and every other industry, as well): professionalism, courtesy, and honesty.
A friend of mine had to make a tough call this past week. She'd been working on a big project for her final portfolio. It was the first time such a project had been attempted in our program and many eyes were on her and her crew. I was on crew, but also acting as a friend/assistant director in regards for working with crew members. One student had arrived an hour late to a rehearsal. This student had given a reason to be late, but there were many options to prepare/get around the hindrance. The entire crew had faced the ams scheduling difficulty and found acceptable solutions. This student didn't give us notice it would be an issue until an hour before we were set to rehearse a run through.
The director made the call to ask her not to come back and promote a freshman who had shown dedication and enthusiasm to the position.
Both the director and I found this instance challenging as we know and like the student we had to ask to not come back. However, we decided that we valued professionalism and needed to encourage that on set. Even though we attend a smaller school, we value what we project and want to approach this business with intention. The crew dynamic suddenly changed from one of lethargic requirement to excitement and appreciation. The director had rewarded good work and shown she valued a professional work environment. The crew stepped up to the plate with a feeling of honor of having been chosen in the first place and with personal pride at having earned the right to stay.
Often in a small community, personal drama can find its way into the work environment. I experienced this with a director who had finished her films and was working with a team in post. One of the team members had taken an attraction to her that she could not reciprocate. She outlined that she valued his friendship and his skills; she would like to continue their professional relationship and friendship. His response was to give her half-edited projects. He asked to never see hr again as he felt she had manipulated him. The director was left with partial projects and oncoming due dates. She had to scramble to find a new team member.
This account reminded me of the importance of common courtesy when interacting with people. There was hurt on both sides which led to a fractured creative community and ruined friendship. Even when personal feelings are injured, it is more effective to show kindness and grace. This enables the greater objective to be accomplished, your integrity to be maintained, and (perhaps) an understanding to be reached. This approach leads to more respect than the alternative.
This experience is more specifically categorized under "honest appraisal of one's skill."
This semester I've written, produced, directed, and am in the process of editing a film for my directing class. This film is a simple character study meant to challenge my directing skills by guiding actors through a story without dialogue. The filming went smoothly; I was eager to begin developing it into the final product. When I began to look through the footage we have downloaded, I noticed the audio tracks were . . . well . . . wrong. Six of them were of my film and various scenes therein. The rest were from a tumbling team interview. The card hadn't been formatted. Four days of filming and only six files of sound.
After a few seconds of shock, I recovered and set to work. I began work on my rough cut, contact a friend who is skilled in foley recording, and emailed my professor.
A few days later, I played through my film to a sample piece of music. I realized I didn't notice the lack of sound. In fact, the sound might distract from the cleanliness of the piece. It told a story much like the marriage montage in Up. I emailed my professor, asking if that executive decision would detract from my grade. He responded that since the class's focus was in the student's ability to direct, he did not mind if it was a silent film as long as it still showcased the story.
I learned to thoroughly interview my crew members-for an honest appraisal of their skill in a given position-as well as colleagues in order to best prevent such an occurrence in the future. However, I did value the opportunity to experience a new technique (foley recording) and the demand for a creative and executive decision.