It has been an interesting struggle so far, trying to figure out exactly what my job is, now that we’re actually filming this thing.
I’m not the person who hauls the gear for the first time in my life, and that feels unusual (and nice). That’s the crew. I’m not the one telling the crew what to do or organizing the load-in and load-out, either. That’s mostly the Production Manager. I’m also not the person calling the shots on set. That’s the director, or the AD or maybe the DoP.
I kind of have no job to do, but on some abstract level I have the hugest job, because I’m supposed to be making sure this entire gigantic machine with a million moving parts doesn’t go haywire.
Not to overstate my personal importance to this production, but I own approximately half of the copyright on this runaway train so I am ultimately responsible for it not going off the rails, over budget, behind schedule, and so on. That doesn’t mean it’s my job to keep everything on track, but it does mean that it’s my responsibility. Important distinction, and especially important to keep in mind during the shoot, since my partner is also the director, so he has more important things to think about than sharing that burden.
There are a lot of personalities to negotiate on set. Some people are intense and intimidating and impossible to say no to. Some people are incredible at maintaining a positive attitude even when things aren’t going well or when someone is yelling at them or being unreasonable (my own instinct is to argue back, but that’s almost never the right choice). Some people are always upbeat and bring everyone up along with them. Others are the opposite.
All that is to say – I know what my personality is like, but I don’t know where I fit into this weird hierarchy. Most of the time I am a diplomatic and accommodating person. But that attitude doesn’t win respect with the strong-willed, bossy types. On the other hand, neither does a bossy attitude, especially before they feel you’ve earned it.
I’ve been keeping a decent balance of staying out of the way and pulling individual people aside when an issue arises. I hope I haven’t pissed anyone off or caused delays. I hope I haven’t made anyone feel like I’m incompetent, either. And, on the other hand, I also am not particularly worried about that. I feel mostly on top of my game.
I’m doing my best to keep on top of the schedule and steer this thing in the right direction while staying mindful of the fact that this ship has a half-dozen captains right now, and I’m not the most important one.
Lesson learned on Day 3:
Sometimes, what you see on screen is the direct result of the director’s efforts. Sometimes, the cinematographer’s. Other times, the producer’s, or the editor’s, or the composer’s, or the actors’. I’m not making this comment about Birdland, I’m making it in general. It takes dozens, if not hundreds of people to make a film. It is insane that we only call one of those people “the filmmaker”.