Sunday, March 30, 2014

Blogging restart

I have really hated being away. Blogging for me was a way of checkpointing my days and my life. And now I just feel that I have no documentation of my life and its learnings.
What is up on my front?

Yup, I shot a movie. It was supposed to be part of 3 short films package. And we were producing it. But I had a tough time handling production and direction at the same time. We had Zain handling production but he is actually a a director and since we were spending our company money it was getting really tough. Also our budget blew up because we were hoping to get some equipments free but we didnt get.

The good thing is now I have understood production. We had done ads but the max shoot was 2 days. Film goes on for 10 days, each day very expensive - of the order of lakhs -  and there is a host of location and many people to manage. Everyday it was like juggling balls and somedays I felt there was one ball too many. Infact I remember coming back, taking backup of data everyday after 14 hours shoots.

My biggest production learning was:
1) Invest in a good team rather than a good camera. We tried to save money in the wrong place.
2) Have people who are passionate, dont hire people in the first meeting. (Because i personally suffer from a syndrome where I like everyone in the first meeting)
3) If someone has worked in mainstream bollywood and is proud about it, chances are that he/she will disappoint you by doing sub-standard work. (This is a very sad truth but for me the biggest disappointments were the most experienced people)
4) Dont be scared of taking tough decision. I took lots of tough unpopular decisions. But I am glad I did. My film is better. Be extremely selfish about the quality of the film. Dont compromise because thats how the filsm start becoming bad.
5) Tap people's strengths, passions and enthusiasm. My best contri came from people who were fiercely passionate about their work. There will be days you will derive energy from others.

My key directorial learnings were:
1) Dont even leave one shot to be decided on location. Because that will generally be the most average shot. Magic may happen but magic is random.
2) Take coverage shots no matter what. Even if you have planned lovely takes, take your inserts.
3) Even if the shoot is for 30 days, prepare for everyday before the shoot. Dont depend on the break. Also production design wise, get props made before the shoot sched starts.
4) Preprod is the key.
5) Take suggestions and be open to people contributing but preserve your thought process. Sometimes the most popular decisions are wrong and sometimes they are right. Carry your internal compass.
6) Be early riser.
7) Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse.
8) If you cant love your actor, dont cast him.
9) Cut of the noise, protect your thought process as you are the only one carrying the film in your head so you know the tone of the scene and color palatte of the scene in relation to other scenes better.
10)I should just figure out eyeline match. Its embarassing.
11) Always have reference films. Show it to crew.
12) Even if there is a 10 page dialogue. Think about how you will shoot every word of that dialogue. Dont bank on coverage.

13) Most important -  Have a good chief AD who will shield you from all the logistic nightmare.

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