At some point between being on the set of a commercial yesterday morning and hanging out with Scott Haskin last night, I learned some interesting things about myself and making movies/shorts/etc:

  1. It doesn’t matter how big or small a production is, I’m in awe of that many people being brought together (especially with that much money) to make something great.
  2. Man on the Run’s (MotR’s) productions, while small (and super low budget), were a ton of fun.
  3. Everyone’s nice to the Director’ face.

I may be stating the obvious here, but there are some key differences between being on an indie film set and, let’s say, a professional movie  or commercial shoot.

I’m definitely not a guy who’s “been there, done that” enough times that I can speak with complete authority, but the handful of movie/tv/commercial sets I’ve been on lead me to believe they’re a whole different monster than your average independent film/short production. And I don’t just mean budget, or production level necessarily. It’s just a feeling.

The atmosphere on the commercial yesterday was “Shoot. Shoot now. Get the shot. Why aren’t we shooting?” and everyone just seemed so… tense. I had the distinct feeling that every time we were stopped for something, “Strike the logo on that bag,” “The prop fell. Fix it,” we were wasting thousands of dollars. And I’m sure we were.

Okay, maybe not thousands, but definitely hundreds. And I’ve never had to worry about that.

ME: “Oh, we need another take? So-and-so was in the background of the shot? Ok, let’s do it again guys. So-and-so, stay out of the shot. Yes, I can still see you over there, Dusty. I mean so-and-so.”  🙂

When we shot the Road Less Traveled movies, none of us got paid. We were doing it for the love of making films and the hopes that it would get us noticed. We shot for as long as we could until we either lost light, ran out of tape, or got kicked out of somewhere (I’m looking at you, Wrigley Mansion). I think the only frustrations we ran into were lack of sleep, miscommunication, or the stress of juggling so many different things at once (I’m supposed to worry about lighting now? Oh, I should have been worried about it the whole time? My bad). But there was definitely a sense of “we’re all in this together.

Yeah, I went there.

We laughed a LOT on set. Scott commented last night that it looked like we had a great time shooting, and we did. It’s easy (and getting easier everyday) to overlook the small arguments that cropped up while shooting when I hear 15+ minutes of laughing, laughing, laughing in the Bloopers/Behind the Scenes reel. We made a great team.

And yesterday was good, don’t get me wrong. The Director of the commercial, who was focused, smart and genial to myself and the other actor, eventually got the shots he wanted and we were done on-time. But I had the distinct feeling that most of the crew was there for their paychecks only (further emphasized by them mumbling “Thank God this is the last day,” and “I can’t take any more of him” to each other).

I guess it’s the same with most “jobs” though. I don’t wake up everyday and go running into my copywriting job (work people, if you’re reading this, I’m totally lying. I dream about working because I love it so much), I do it for the paycheck and the security it brings.

Still, it makes me wonder if we (MotR) weren’t on to something.

Kevin Smith spoke about this in An Evening with Kevin Smith, when a studio exec said to him, “Kevin, it’s not about making a movie with your friends,” to which Kevin retorted, “Really?”

That’s kinda how I feel. What’s the point of doing something you love if you’re not doing it with the people that you love? (Why does this vaguely sound like I’m talking about sex? I’m not)

Since wrapping Road Less Traveled: Episode 3 in 2006, I’ve been searching the Phoenix film community for people I would love to work with… and there are many. Actors, Directors, Cinematographers, Continuity Queens and Composers. There’s a ton of great talent here in Phoenix.

When we ramp up our production level again here in the next few months, I plan on pulling as much of that talent as I can into our team. I want what we’ve had before: I want to keep making quality movies with my friends.

Who’s with me?