September 14th, 2010


My first film

Yesterday, I worked as a production assistant aka "gopher" on a short film. It was fascinating being on a film set, even a small one. I got to work the slate! And be an extra ("Guy exiting building"). And narrate as the main actress ate truffles in bed! It also answered a bunch of questions I've had about filmmaking:

1) Why do films take so long to finish? (It takes hours to set up for a scene that might last for 10 seconds on screen.)
2) Why do films cost so much to make? (Our production had a DP, a sound guy, a director, two gaffers, a grip, two actors, all of whom were standing around during setup.)
3) Why do so many bad films get made? Don't they know they're doing a bad job as they're filming? (Yes, you can sometimes tell if it will be a bad film during filming. But you probably don't know if you have a "good" film until you finish editing. It might still be a "bad" film in disguise. During filming you're just trying to get shots the editor can use later. What the final film will look like will not be clear until weeks/months after principal filming. And while the crew would prefer to work on a good film, money is money, and if you've got the money, they'll happily help you make a bad film.)

Also learned a bunch of lingo:

beach - sand bags
C-stand - pole on a tripod, used to hold lights
Gary Coleman - short C-stand
fly in/fly out - move something into or off-set
"points" - said when you're moving a C-stand around, so people around you don't get jabbed by the "points"
full apple - wooden box used as a support; used to be made from apple crates, ranges in size from 1/8th to full apple
hollywood - to hold something by hand, often a scrim or silk
stinger - extension cord
gobo - knuckle used to attach extension arm to a C-stand
sticks - a tripod
speed - aka "rolling", announced when camera and sound are rolling
brute - big flood light
flag - opaque piece of fabric used to block light
scrim - translucent piece of fabric, used to diffuse light

The crew treated me very well, even invited me to the wrap party. If you ever get a chance to work on a film set, I recommend it.

Posted via email from crasch's posterous