A lot of my discipline as a photographer and videographer relies less on elaborate lighting set ups and more of learning how to improvise with what I have available in the moment. I went to a school with an underfunded Tv and Film program and we had outdated ARRI lighting kits without ballast or any of the fancy electrical equipment or generators available to a graduate of USC or AFI. My DSLR got better looking footage than the $10k cameras they supplied us with and was lighter and more mobile, allowing us to perform longer takes and have more kinetic action on location.
It frustrates me when people look down on someone with a 1080p DLSR or using natural light when they don’t even know how to use the environment to their advantage or even make an interesting frame with all their expensive equipment and 4K Cameras. It’s useful in certain situations yes, but I feel like the ability to get good results with almost nothing is a severely undervalued skill in photography and in the film and television industry.
It’s one of the reasons I enjoy shooting on location so much. Sometimes you can come up with a great looking shot in the moment just by seeing the way the light falls across someone’s face.
Director - Don’t look up from what the AD is showing you. Whether you’re the next Nolan, or a little younger and you’re the next Wes Anderson, or hell, maybe your soul hasn’t entirely died yet and you’re still the next Spielberg - whoever you are, you’re carrying out your vision and are barely even on this plane of existence.
Producer - can you say “FUUUUUCCCKKKKKKKKKK!” but, just with your eyes? Looking up from your Macbook is optional.
DP - Can you say “I’m shooting on the fuckin RED” but again, just with your eyes? Do you have one of those h i l a r i o u s coffee cups that look like lenses? (If you’re foreign, just look at the camera, it will all be over soon and you can get back to working straight through lunch.) Anyway, here’s my card, I also direct, write, produce…
1st AC - Get to a camera and pull focus. Have them crop out the empty seat in front of the camera if you can. If there’s no camera around just pull focus on the closest thing to you.
2nd AC - You’ll be sharing with the 1st AC, sorry.
Sound - Look up, but only ‘just for a second’, you’re busy carrying this movie! Film school told you sound was 50% of the film, and surely with inflation it’s now more than that, right? Anyway, you’re *practically* Ben Burtt at this point and have to get back to work. (what *do* all those knobs do anyway, lol!)
Child Actor’s Parent - Smile big! (If you can even see anything through those dollar signs!)
Assistant Director - Smile as if all the shit you’re trying to maintain is about to burst through your teeth in IMAX 3D, you ball of kinetic energy you, holding together this project that-you-don’t-normally-do-but-just-this-time. Smile as if the sheer force of your being can slow down the sun’s progress behind that building by juuussst 15 minutes, cause what the hell is happening, where is the director, why aren’t we rolling GODDAMNIT??
Makeup - Start putting makeup on someone, it doesn’t matter who. You’re mere classes away from your Cosmetology degree and this isn’t *really* what you do anyway, but your youtube tutorials have been getting some traction so why the hell not?
Talent - Smile real big, you can leave your earbuds in, or maybe just go with the one, if you can snap out of that downtime mind stupor fast enough. Anyway, back in character now, turn the Beyonce back up - oh *what* did Kaitlynne just tweet? Ok, so there’s this chick you know who is a regular extra on Glee, right, and like, EVERY time they’re shooting…
Grip - Total freebie, the production photographer will be too scared to get that close to the truck, and after Facebook compression you’ll only be identified through tags and just maybe facial recognition. Tattoos don’t keep you from getting work, why not throw the bird in there, go nuts. (if you’re union/teamster of any sort, it is actually required to utilize the middle finger or you won’t get hired again.)
Gaffer - Yes, they’re pointing the camera *directly* into the struck Arri light you’re standing next to, yes it’s going to be crushed and blown out in the same picture, just toss your leg up on that C stand leg and do your best, you’retheonlypersondoinganygoddamnworkaroundhereanyway.
PA - Smile as if you’re JUST HAPPY TO BE HERE, MAN. Smile as if your walkie is about to crackle to life with Starbucks orders, smile as if the Minnesota College Film program is finally paying off, smile as if you’re wondering if you’re going to get home in time to get the good parking cause you live in the filthy heart of DTLA cause you have to live there if you *really* want to get serious about this (not that it matters cause your gf/bf needs to borrow it as soon as you get home to make a quick Sprouts run). It’s good to be alive, probably.