It is October 31st - the first day of filming. I had met some of the crew before at a production meeting where we discussed the details of the shoot, but most of them I didn't know. They all seemed to have a good understanding of what they were doing, although they easily could have fooled me!
We all arrived on set early that Halloween morning. We were shooting in a small studio in Denver that day with just a single actor. The gaffer set-up the lighting. The DP (Director of Photography or Cinematographer) set-up the camera on a dolly. The sound recordist was hooking up his microphones.
As the “Director” (intentionally parenthesized), I was stationed at a large monitor tethered to the camera. Just before we started filming, I whispered to DK Johnston, the co-producer and 1st assistant director, “who yells ‘Action’ and ‘Cut’”? My understanding of what happened on a movie set came from YouTube. My knowledge wasn’t very deep.
I remember the first take of the first scene that day. The scene was supposed to look like an old talkshow studio with a British host explaining how to shake hands. I didn't like the angle of the camera as I wasn't getting the look I wanted. We made some adjustments and off we went.
Wait! What just happened there? Was this directing! WAS I DIRECTING?
Once things moved along, we all fell into a groove. I found that I really enjoyed working with the actors, maybe because I was also the screenwriter in this case. At the end of the first day, I asked DK if he would focus on the scene set-up, including the camera angle, lighting, and sound, so that I would be free to focus on the creative side, including the script, set design, and the actors. He agreed and we worked very well together in that way. In essence, he took over a large part of my job as the Director even though I got all the credit... and he did it very well.
I remember at the end of the day I was talking with someone near an exit door that I was blocking. I heard our gaffer yelling, “Points! Points!” I had no idea what she was saying or that she was even talking to me! Apparently, in filmmaking lingo, “points” means “get out of the way or something sharp is going to pierce your skin!” Over the course of the next 19 days, I learned a lot more filmmaker parlance!
Next week we’ll dive into directing actors where I quickly learned how NOT to direct human beings!
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