It takes more than a camera, a good script and a decent location to pull it off. This realization came to me early in my shooting experience. I had given myself the task of completing a 10-12 minute short film. I had only shot very small pieces up until then with a very small team: A DP, an actor and a Director, plus one all around assistant. It was 2009 and I had rented a RED ONE and was totally pumped thinking about how great the story would look. We had done 20 re-writes, and our actors were great.
I was acting as a producer as well as a director in this project. Two hats that are very hard to wear at the same time. More on this later. I had also recruited a great DP, who brought in a great Gaffer and Grip. I had an AD that I had met not too long before the shoot, a makeup artist... a full team of... drum roll... 15 people. It seemed huge. I was suddenly the CEO of a 15 person company.
I had luckily secured a great location in a hotel that fit the look we needed, and we had a full suite and adjacent room to allow the actors some space to relax, and our kraft table to be set up.
Even though I had pre-planned and worked all of this together, my AD quit on me after the first day of shooting. My whole brain seemed to explode that instant. It was 1am in the morning after wrapping our first day of four of shooting, and already one of my 2 key people in the set had quit. Not only that, she had decided to take 3 assistants with her, diminishing my team to 11 people from the initial 15. Next, I was completely scared my DP would quit on me... but he stayed. He liked the project, and for him and in 2009, not a lot of DP's had the opportunity to work on the RED ONE for four straight days.
THE LESSON: I came to the realization during this project was that my micro-approach to film making was very useful in some circumstances, but was ineffective when working with a larger team. Producing and Directing at the same time became something that I decided to avoid for future projects. As a director, I realized that it is more important to direct your team and sail the ship in a clear direction with everyone on board. That is a bigger part of directing when working with larger teams. Make sure the whole crew knows in what direction you are sailing in. Sounds like a cliché, but I swear, I lived it on my own flesh!