You can think you’re being safe, think you’ve done it all right, and then when you least expect it – and least want it to happen – the forces of nature will show you you’re human. It’s the human element that we have to fight against on set to make sure accidents don’t happen.
Tales from the Front Lines of Movie Making
Most Recent Articles in "Production Stories"
Scientists have done studies that show if you are working in the film industry, you are more likely to succumb to Murphy’s Law while on the way to set. And without a GPS or satellite navigation system, you can find yourself very lost, very easily.
As crew, we watch actors get all the perks, the fancy trailers, and the later call-times. The result of this is a perceived gap between crew and the talent; A natural divide of us Morlocks who toil away behind the camera and the blissfully beautiful Eloi who traipse in front of it.
The epic conclusion and second part of my battle on set with an executive producer named George. Does he get me fired, finally, like he wanted to the whole time? Or do we end up as best buds? You’ll have to read to find out.
When I was starting out in the industry, on one of the first films I was ever 1st assistant camera (AC), I had to defend myself against a producer who had placed a target on my head. There are a whole slew of reasons why I remember George – including how we met.
Alfred Hitchcock once said: “I didn’t say actors are cattle. What I said was, actors should be treated like cattle.” Hitchcock was onto something. If you substitute in “extras” for “actors,” the metaphor holds even more true.
You get transported back to that moment in the theater when you first realized, “hundreds of people do this as their life.” For a brief moment, you get to remember how it feels to be driven by that magic, by the dream, by the urge to one day be a part of something that inspires others.
I’m not perfect. Even though I spend a lot of time on this site talking about being a perfect camera assistant, I haven’t always successfully followed that advice. A lot of filmmaking is common sense and you’d be surprised at the amount of people who fail at the most basic sensibilities, including myself.
Rush to block, scramble to light, skip the rehearsal, and now let’s wait for that plane to pass for sound. Hurry up and wait is all too true in the film industry, but it’s that mentality that’s the true secret to filmmaking productivity.