SLOW DOWN BEFORE YOU BREAK SOMETHING
The shooting day is scheduled and it’s packed tight from open to close. In fact, you schedule yourself to shoot so many scenes that you don’t leave room to breath. It’s time to plan your shots, prep for the day and mentally prepare for the 14 hour battle that's about to rage on.
This is typically how I operate. With my ambition high, I schedule more than I could ever possibly complete on most days. When I plan my shots, I think about the scenes and how I see them playing out in my head. I think about what I would like to see in the final film and those are the shots I try to get. I attempt to plan the day to be run as efficiently as possible. Some days we hit a home run and others...not so much.
On set and staging the scene for our cast, this is where I give myself a little room to play. This is where I lose time. I make every effort to stick to the planned shots, but what kind of asshole would I be if I ignored it when inspiration strikes. When the light bulb comes on and I see the scene in a whole new light, am I supposed to just turn that shit off? I think not.
Now...this is where things begin to snowball. Inspired by the new shots I’d like to capture, I pivot with excitement and go with my gut. This in turn costs me those precious minutes in the day and puts me behind schedule. Tension rises and the pressure mounts. I’m behind schedule and I need to speed up to get back on track.
This is where I go wrong. I feel like I NEED to speed up my day. The question is, SHOULD I? SHOULD I try to get back on schedule and get what’s planned? SHOULD I give everything else less focus than I did on the previous scene? SHOULD I make this sacrifice just to stay on schedule?
The focus of this week’s blog is simply slowing down and I’m not just talking about on the film set.
FIXING FILM EQUIPMENT ON SET
On Saturday, the ‘What About Molly?’ journey continued and I operated much as described above. I planned too much into my day and was in a rush to get it all done. Naturally, everything went to shit and I mean quickly.
Initially running a little behind schedule, we made our way to set ready and excited. I haven’t even set up the first scene and I was already behind. I was already feeling the pressure. I was already speeding up.
Walking through the staging and getting everyone on the same page, the cast begins to rehearse while I set up equipment. It’s time for the snowball to roll. As I stated, we were already behind and I felt the need to rush. This would prove to be a costly decision. Looking in the back of the truck I quickly realize I forgot a prop needed for the scene. I left it at home…My delay went from a few minutes behind to an hour really quickly.
Fifteen minutes home and fifteen minutes back, the pressure is now real. Time to speed up even more! Time to work faster!
Busting our asses we get through the scene, executing beautifully. As we make our way to the next location, I’m able to take a breath and think a little more clearly. I think about the rest of the scenes planned for the day and look for a way to execute on them a little more quickly. Again, this was a mistake.
Unloading equipment at location numero dos, I say hello to the additional cast members scheduled and begin staging the scene. We work and we work quickly!
Ultimately, the day went smoothly and I got the shots I wanted...until we had to factor nature into the equation. The sun was setting and a new race was on. A new reason to rush was presented and the pressure was real.
Outside, running around like a maniac, I capture angle after angle effectively and efficiently. In order to save what precious time I had, I decided to put the sound recorder into my backpack, making for a quick and easy mobile unit. That’s when the final nail enters the coffin.
Rushing to make a move, I adjust the backpack and the sound recorder falls out.
CRACK!!!!! The device hits the asphalt and shatters into several pieces.
Without assessing the damage, I run inside to get a much needed item for the scene. Returning, I take a moment to correct the situation. The clip on the battery pack broke off and it wont lock in. Without locking in, the device won't turn on. I’m fucked…
It’s at this time we came together as a group, devising a solution. That solution came with two words...duct tape.
It wasn’t a pretty solution, but an effective one. One that would allow us to continue on and get every scheduled scene shot for the day, almost.
The incident at the end of my story was completely avoidable. Due to my rushing, I wasn’t thinking as clearly as I normally do. I wasn’t paying attention to detail. I lost my focus and things began to crumble around me. I was my own worst enemy and it not only cost me time, it cost me money.
Seeing the physical damage my actions created, it makes me wonder, what else suffers that I’m not seeing? If I am losing my focus and my attention to detail, are my scenes suffering? Am I not capturing the scenes as I should? Am I sacrificing the quality of my film, just to stay on schedule?
It’s an interesting thought and one I’ll keep in the front of my mind going forward. When I have those days where everything is going wrong and I start to rush, trying to salvage what I can, I need to just stop. I need to take a moment, take a breath and tell myself to just slow down. All will be okay. We can reschedule what doesn’t get done. Be here, now, and be present in the moment. Be available for the scene and the work in front of you.
Not only can I apply this to my film life, I can apply it personally as well. Always rushing and in a hurry, I need to take a moment and just slow down. Be present in the activities I’m doing. Give each one the focus, attention and love it deserves.
Think about your own life and the areas you can slow down. It’s all about being present to the moment. Be available to the activity and the people around you. Be your best self, give your undivided attention and just be available fully.
Think about that work meeting your in and you decide to multitask. Maybe you should be present to get a full understanding of the details on the call.
Think about spending time with your kids. Maybe you should put the phone down or turn the TV off and go outside. Be present and experience the moment fully with your loved ones.
Think about that family dinner with your spouse. Maybe turn the phone off and have a conversation. Be there for the dinner, focus on your love and build it stronger by giving it the attention it deserves.
Think about the projects you work on. Are you giving them the focus they deserve? Are you bringing your best with each one?
Slow down, be present and be your best.
- The Failed Filmmaker