These are things that I did not learn in my very expensive classes last year and probably never will in the trust fund-breaking MFA course I’m desperate to get into come fall. They teach you so much and I’m super proud of the education i had but some things you’ll only learn on the job. They seem basic later but I’m mentioning them anyway because they didn’t seem obvious to me. It’s second nature after a few days on the sets, but before that it caused me unspeakable amounts of grief. For now this is mostly to do with continuity because that’s all I’m taking care of. But as I’ll learn more, I’ll share more.
Carry a camera or a cameraphone. There will be handy things like an assist, someone covering the making-of and what not around. But BELIEVE ME, it’s a million times better if you have the pictures of the layout and prop-location in your hand at all times. The assist has so many people around it, you’d think it’s shooting out candy. And by the time you find the stills/video guy the next shot will be ready, and you WILL BE screwed. So be Type A even if it ruins you as a person – Do it yourself. Don’t depend on people who are not dependable.
Be idiot-proof. Not because others are idiots but because writing down everything makes your life easier. My brain’s like a sieve. And I learnt from my professor, Marcus Stern that there’s no shame in that. So i write down everything. Even if to the veterans it looks like a child has written this, it’s fine. It has been written by a child. But all the info is at hand. Unless told otherwise I err on the side of caution and always will.
Be a sponge. Learn as much as you can by just soaking in all that’s going around you. It’s the quickest way to learn, though it’s easier said than done. First day, I didn’t know all the things i’m supposed to carry around. And now I see Ankur do something, before the next shoot I’m doing it too.
Let go of grudges. The same people who refused to help you on a particular day will ask to meet your doctor father for a consultation on the next. You can politely and smugly tell them to “fuck off” because yes that’d feel so good. But you can also just help. Even if it would feel bloody good to give them the same patronising eye roll that was handed to you just a few hours ago, don’t do it.
What happens on the set cannot and will not define the girl my grandma raised.
You know nothing. So you’ve learnt some stuff and you think you’re getting the hang of this now. But everyday something new will pop up to remind you that you are still as green as Captain Planet’s coiffe. Maybe a lighter shade of green, but green nonetheless.
Be afraid. This bit sounds like I got it out of a self help book but it is something that works for me and I do not know if others should follow this. Fear makes me work harder. Fear of not being the best I can be; of getting yelled at; of letting down my mentors. In essence, the fear of getting a ‘B’. I’m told it’s a tad unhealthy and my sister, the shrink, would strongly disapprove. But till now it’s worked for me. Go with what works for you.
Mutate. Nothing will help you more than growing an extra set of hands, two to be on the safer side. So try that. And do let me know if you managed. No joke.
Don’t work with douches. I learnt this in advertising and has nothing to with just filmmaking. It’s a high stress environment. But if someone’s a plain jerk, don’t work with them. It’s not worth it. Your education, and life, will be richer if you work with good people who know their job. Just because someone screams a lot and plays the part of the intense artist, doesn’t mean they are one. The best, most talented people I ever worked with were gentlemen to the core and respected people around them. @munishbhardwaj, @mrrajatkapoor, @meenal_ and many others who are not on twitter are all like that. I’m very glad that this is my first team, they’re very similar to Marcus and a lot of the good CDs who mentored me. The reprimanding and the stress shouldn’t be unwarranted and for effect. Don’t work with people who play that game. Really. I have. It’s not worth it. You stress out a lot, only to learn very little.
Beyond this all I can say is, trust your own Ankhon Dekhi.
Ciao for now.
The Yedi AD
Oh! A big tip i forgot to share: Every chance you get to pee, take it!
And a little something i read on Nigel Lythgoe’s twitter feed – The best way to forgive life’s disappointments is: Cry a river, build a bridge & get over it!!!