Lessons from a Movie Set

Amazing graffiti art on the walls on the set. 
Last night, at nearly 11 pm, I made it home from the first day of filming a feature film entitled “Remission.”  One day on set makes me an expert, right?  Okay, not even close, but since I am participating in this project, I thought I would pass along any random wisdom I manage to glean from the process.  Here goes the lessons from Day 1:
 Leave your ego at the door.  As a writer, my job is to take a story idea, and show it in words on a page.  It’s for the most part, a rather solitary endeavor.  Movie making is more like a hive-mentality.  Every person on the set has a vision for what the story should look/sound like. Writers, directors, actors, effects crew, sound technicians, and they guy who brings the donuts.  (They were great, by the way, along with the Mulligatawny stew)  The goal is to meld all of those visions into one cohesive whole.  It’s the director’s job, and a lot like herding cats.  For the process to flow, everyone needs to be willing to work together, and if your ego gets in the way, the whole thing can derail.  It doesn’t take years of set-work to see how a Diva can develop the relationship where no one wants to work with them.  A “What can I do to help?” attitude will take you much further.
Contrary to popular belief, movie making is not glamorous.  Yeah, the big Hollywood stars may get posh trailers, and pampering assistants. But even then, stars have to do things like stand around for countless takes in freezing weather clad in totally weather-inappropriate attire to get the perfect scene. Get used to no heat, and the nearest bathroom being a gas station four blocks away. It’s dirty, cold/hot/wet work sometimes. My respect for actors who can film scenes while hiding their shivering.
Follow direction.  “Quiet on the set,” basically means “don’t breathe, unless given permission.”  Nothing worse than getting nearly through a difficult scene, with near-perfection, then having it ruined by noise contamination.
Make friends!  It’s not about name-dropping, or shameless self-promotion.  True networking involves forging relationships.  If you can’t be genuine, you’re going to struggle.  It goes back to the whole ego thing.  In a line ripped right from the script… “You know what happens if you bite the hand that feeds you? Eventually, it will let you starve.”  Let’s face it, whether it’s Hollywood, or Nebraska, the film community is pretty small.  You want to make a name for yourself, make it be that you add value to a production.  That you’re to be trusted.  That you’ll be a supporter, cheerleader, and a hard worker.  
Fist-bumps to my fellow cast and crew from Remission.  We rock!
 On the set, after about 10 hours of filming in single-digit temperatures. 
More uuber-cool graffiti art in the background. 

4 thoughts on “Lessons from a Movie Set

  1. Thanks for sharing the insight. The final product is what makes things look glamorous. The viewer doesn’t think about the hours in the cold. Oh, and the graffiti is really cool too. Good luck on your project.

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