Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being in a music video for my friends Ben and Georgia, also known as the very talented Bitter Ruin. It was only the second time I’ve acted in front of a camera, most of my experience being theatrical (bar one short student film), and the experience was… interesting.
This was the first time I’d worked with a professional director and a professional crew, and I found their professionalism really refreshing. They managed to get the job done, slowly but surely, without fuss and hassle. The process didn’t seem stressful nor rushed, just cool, calm and methodical, despite time running out and specific camera shots and angles taking a lot of time to set up. On top of this, their polite and pleasant directions and thank-yous made the whole process so much easier, and they way they dealt with unruly bar-staff (we were filming in a pub) and the like was extremely impressive. Seeing this confident and professional work was inspiring, and certainly gave me something to aim for in my directing. Watching them work was extremely valuable, and gave me something to do during the long shoot.
If the above sounds catty, I certainly don’t mean it to. I just didn’t realise how long it takes to film, and how little of that time I would actually be working. Most of my day was spent watching or relaxing, and it took a lot of effort not to get bored. It seemed like most of my day was in preparation for my 5-10 shots, my minute/minute-and-a-half of screen time, which wasn’t rehearsed or planned beyond when we were doing it. The uncertainty of whether what I was doing is good or right was… frightening. However, none of this felt rushed or unplanned, and the ability to feel able to make contributions in this kind of powerful, creative environment was wonderful.
I almost feel like my experience yesterday reminded me of good direction, of how to make people feel appreciated and still get the job done quickly and professionally. If I could take a smidgeon of that creative force and add it to my direction, I feel I’d be achieving something new and special in my own work. Maybe there is something to be said for leaving actors to their own devices for hours on end… I was so ready to do my scenes by the time that I did that my ego flew out of the window.
On the other hand, I did finish the day very tired and exhausted, after doing very little work, or maybe a lot over a very short time; I can’t be sure until I see the results. All I know is I want to be in that position, I want to be a good enough director to inspire that kind of energy, focus and drive so naturally and effortlessly. If anything, yesterday showed me how far I still have to go, reminded me of where I need to improve. Much to be thought about!