The Film Book Rollercoaster of Production
Here we go into another year, and a journey on the roller coaster of book production. Last year, it frequently found me on my knees, I guess that’s what a project like this is all about, the highs and lows and pushing through regardless. At times I wondered what on earth propelled me into such a venture, one of the most challenging I have had the fortune to take on. Fortune because I know without a doubt when on completion of this book; I will produce something not done before; something that will give insight into the exciting world of film making, albeit having to meet incredible challenges in order to get the job done. However that is the idea, to give people an understanding of how this machine called film making, operates, and how each department, each individual is intrinsic to the outcome of the product be it Feature film, TV series or Commercial. The production can only work when everyone is giving their all at every working moment.
I am often struck by how dazzled people are when they hear one is in the “film industry”. To most it sounds so glamorous, for others we appear like a bunch of misfits (especially judged on our attire), however besides the military we are one of the most organized, regimented, together organizations you will meet. Who else can go into the most remote area, be it beach, desert, forest, mountain, and operate as if it was just another day at the office. It comes from every department being completely responsible for what they do, hence we will have toilets, catering, power, shelter from the elements (we’re talking rain and sun here, the wind sometimes make it unbearable, especially in Cape Town) the list goes on. Regardless of the elements “the show must go on”, scenes must be shot, schedules must be met, and it is every individuals job to work as a team with their department to make this a reality.
People say film making is magic, personally I think the magic happens when a wide variety of individuals are hired on a job, they are brought together by a story that needs to be told. Some have never worked together before, and in prep, which happens before the camera can turn over (roll) will find the different departments acting like busy worker bees, doing what they need to do to prepare for the pending shoot. The Camera department are doing camera tests based on the “look” that has been discussed with the Director and the Director of Photography; Art Department are building sets, dressing them according to the scenes of the script and the brief from the Director; Wardrobe are buying, making clothes and fitting the artists accordingly and so on and so forth. Although the entire crew is never together in pre-production, the Heads of Departments are gathered together, for a full script read through, which is a rapid process as there is much still to be done and no time to waste, so this is the time for questions and answers, problems and solutions, in order to meet the starting date of the shoot. Then on Shoot Day 1, the camera is ready, the artist in the right wardrobe and make-up with possibly a bruise or two, from a fight we haven’t yet shot, on a set that is dressed, holding the correct props whatever they may be…and the 1st Assistant Director calls “Roll Camera…aaan…Action!” Now THAT is magic. What a remarkable bunch of people, and it is this very discipline and intensity with which we work that makes us such a close bunch…a family!
My intention for this book, is give the crew fresh understanding of each other and how amazing they actually are, and give people outside the industry, insight into a world that excites and entices. As well as giving anyone with an interest in joining the industry, some knowledge of how it all works, and to further promote the South African film industry.
Besides my own personal experience, and understanding, I have pulled from the expertise of the crew from their writing contributions and countless interviews explaining what they do, and that gives me the accurate and real content for this book. Hence it is no small undertaking, but as they say in the classics…”how do you eat an elephant?…bite by bite” The adventure continues, as do the challenges but unlike last year I will take them in my stride and do what is humanly possible with the love and passion, I began with.