Working as a first AD has been a great way to learn more about the ways in which groups work to successfully create a film. I have no doubt that both the productions I have been involved in as an AD will turn out great and that both groups have some seriously committed team-members and really great actors. This is not critical of either group, but observational on my behalf, and I am all the better for it. But it was amazing to see the difference in the way the crews worked, the way they interacted, and what they wanted and were willing to accept from me as First AD.
I logged the shoots in both cases, helped with the lighting, and kept things moving along.
With one crew the experience was tense and stressful. They had thought things out, to a degree, but got bogged down in making decisions when it would be easier just to keep pushing through it and get double the footage. The director was hands on with the camera here, and pushed hard to get what they wanted – which in the end is hopefully better for the film.
The other team, while seemingly less extnsively thought out on paper, were relaxed confident, and easygoing. They were able to move through obstacles easily and did not find it difficult to make quick decisions about the type of shots needed, and how to light them. Interestingly enough, for me, they were able to get through just as much in about the same time frame (if not quicker) and worked well with their actor to get the best performance out of them.
Both of these shoots featured young male actors. It was really great to see how professional (and patient) these actors were with the crew. They were able to take direction, and were always willing to go for one more take. Due to any number of reasons (and I’m thinking, primarily because they had actors close to their age, and it wasn’t my shoot), their shoots also seemed to operate in more of a fun and relaxed way.
I think that because we chose to work with older actors, we (or at least I) felt immediately pressured to act in a professional and more serious manner. These adults deserved our respect (and we needed to give it to them if we wanted to get great work from them). This is not good, not bad, just interesting. Conversation on-set (as a first-AD) was light, and I was definitely more personable despite my sometimes strict orders; to keep things on-track. The young actors were extremely patient with the crew, and it was great to see that they had built up a great rapport with the crew members in both cases. They seemed equally as interested in what the crew were doing (not in an annoying way), and were definitely understanding and sympathetic to how we’ve “really been thrown in the deep end”, and what a big task it is for us – the majority of us having never made such a big film before.
Despite a great deal of waiting around, they still seemed to enjoy it as well which was heartwarming, and they were really passionate about what they were doing, and really in-tune with their roles. Working with them was great and I really value the chances I got to work with actors of different ages and abilities (in my own work, and with other crews).
I have truely loved the experience or firstAD-ing – I get so into it, and it might just be my preferred role on set because, let’s face it, you get to be a bit bossy, and you’re kind of in charge, but not fully. You can just jump into it and work with a team. You have to make the best of the moment, and bring out the best in the people at that point in time, you think on your feet, and you get things happening … pronto