We try things to see if we like them. I have said I would like to eventually direct my own films; not just provide the blue prints, but help build the house.
I assistant directed my Second City capstone show. I directed the sketch show I co-wrote. I met all my goals and had fun, which I thought was a good sign. Because I have not had any real hands on experience with film, I knew I should try it before saying, “Yes, this is where I want to go.”
I’ve also been told as a writer if an agent or manager asks you what are your career plans, they appreciate knowing up front you’re a writer but would like to direct so they can help you make that happen.
Last Monday, I was a production assistant on a music video. Smaller scale, but I thought there’d be enough similarity I could get the gist.
I was in my element as a PA. I knew it would be grunt work and was fine with that. I thrive running around, helping, knowing what people need before they do. I cleaned up a 2 car garage so the green screen could be set up. I helped the drum tech bring in the drum set. I was a marker for lights. I got coffee. I even enjoyed sitting outside in the negative degree weather making sure no one touched the lighting equipment. I love all the work that goes on behind the scenes. I worked with some great, experienced people. From 5 in the morning until 11 at night, I had a blast.
When they shot the band playing the song, we were allowed to watch. We had prepped everything that could be prepped. When the director and director of photography and his crew filmed, I expected to feel, “Wow! I want to be in there doing that.” I didn’t. It was cool. Over the guys’ shoulders, I could see the shots and liked their composition. It was cool seeing how they set up the shots to be economical with time and, because the space was unheated, the band out of their heated bus.
But it didn’t grab me the same way I felt when I worked with the director of my first sketch show. I was excited as I wrote down the blocking. I wanted to get in there.
Maybe it was because I was connected to the material. I knew everyone’s sketches and knew how I would stage them. The actors made the sketches come alive. Maybe because I was at the director’s elbow. I figured film would be that feeling plus some.
I’m not completely turned off by the idea of directing a film. This was my first experience. At the end of the day, I had a blast, but I couldn’t fathom how a feature would feel. The music video was one location, one day, no sound recorded, crew of about 30. A feature would be that experience, 5 days a week, for a couple of weeks, on a couple hours sleep. My blood would be more caffeine than water, but bring it on.
I’m focusing on writing right now because that’s my passion. I plan on directing some sketch shows this year. If another opportunity comes along to PA, I might consider it. I might work with different people and get different insight.
Until then, if an agent or manager asks what are your plans, I can say,” So here’s the thing…”