Back at school I liked to consider myself a director. I would write screenplays in my free time, direct my own short films, and my dream about directing a feature length film (and who knows, maybe even make a living off of it, but maybe I’m a little ahead of myself). To me it was either director or bust. Over the past couple weeks though, I’ve learned that there is a lot more fun to production than simply directing, or anything on the creative side for that matter.
Quick character backstory: I hated talking to people on the phone, nay, I hated talking to people in person in general. I was the kind of guy whose social anxiety could be so bad that I wouldn’t even want to interact with the pizza delivery person. So it was a rather nerve racking that the first task my boss gave me was to call several gyms across Los Angeles asking them if we can use their location for an upcoming shoot…
“Hi this is… uhhh… Hi my name is Gabriel Wo-, Gabriel Wolfe and I’m with… with uhh… can we use your gym to shoot?”
I always knew that I struggled with talking to people I didn’t know, but wow was I pathetic. If only my parents could see me now, can’t even talk on the phone. How proud they would be.
Luckily though this was merely my first day on the job, and much like most things in life, practice makes perfect. Sure the first couple conversations might have been rough, but by the end of the first day I was already feeling more comfortable, and by the end of the week I found myself preferring to call people than simple emailing them (there aren’t enough minutes in a day to wait for a response). This was my introduction to producing.
Back at school anytime I produced a film I was also director, so I would always work with someone else and let them handle phone calls and schedules, while I focused on the more important (in my mind). Here in Los Angeles at Studio71 I am that someone else.
Aside from the constant phone calls to reserve equipment, find locations, and obtain quotes, I also discovered all the loads (of lovely) paperwork behind even the smallest productions. Ever crew member has about 5 pages they need to fill out, actors around 3, I collected invoices from every company, made petty cash expense reports, credit card authorizations. “Make a copy. Make a copy. Make a copy.” We need multiple hard copies of everything.
And at the end of it all, my boss proudly hands me a stack of papers that went up to my thighs and said: “Organize this, please.” Yes it took a solid two days of work to complete the task, but at the end of it all, as I sat on the floor organizing the papers chunk by chunk, reflecting on the past three weeks, I couldn’t help but think how fun the entire process was.
There is no beauty to it. There were no creative choices. Everything was logistical. What could we afford? What works with out schedule? They can’t deliver the RV? Forget them, find something else (This is a PG blog as far as I know). But working as the cog that allows the creativity to even exist has its own satisfaction. Like the elves working the long hours to help the shoemaker. Minimal appreciation, seeing my work manifest itself on set was more than enough.
I don’t know if my new fondness of producing will overpass my ultimate dream to direct, but it never hurts to add some potential career options.