TV – Week 7, 8 and 9

And again. Busy.

In the middle of week 8 but finally things start to take shape. Two deadlines last week, met both, well done me. Another one this week, another six till the end of April and we are done for the year.

We have a script, one which we all like. Locations and actors next, some secured. Still a bit panicky but there is no reason not to enjoy this, so I am determined to have fun.

So there…

Those above were my last words written on the 3rd of March in an attempt to keep up with my blog. The upcoming two weeks before everything went online and on hold with the corona pandemic were, well… crazy.

I couldn’t believe that simple flu can put everything on hold. That I won’t be able to finish what I’ve started, what I’ve put so much effort in. I kept pushing myself, and my team towards the production, and I did really well. I was so proud of myself and so deeply buried in my work that from me, the world could have gone down in flames, I wouldn’t have noticed. Until it did.

I wasn’t alone in my denial, however. During those last two weeks, I have secured all the I wasn’t alone in my denial, however. During those last two weeks, I have secured all the actors I needed, rearranging times and dates with them again and again as my shooting dates kept changing. They were all happy to work, up until I did. Without giving out names, some of them were absolutely amazing. One of them, in particular, helped me more than a production assistant would have. He secured extras for me, was happy to come in on any date and play whatever I could think of and generally kept in touch, showing enthusiasm for the work we were to do. It was reassuring to see that someone who wasn’t part of the development of the short film would think it worth their effort.

I also ran location recces and talked and emailed back and forth with several university staff members, all extremely helpful. Everyone kept on planning, although with a cautious warning – things might not go as intended. The air started to get heavier with doubts and “what ifs”.

I had a meeting with a local church’s office assistant to secure their beautiful church for shooting our funeral scene, but they couldn’t help us. I didn’t worry much about that – I have already secured a date at Craiglockhart Campus in their chapel, I thought it would be a good substitute. How wrong I was! I saw pictures of the place and had a faint recollection of it myself from almost a year before. That, I thought, must suffice as a recce of the sort. It did not. I went there to there to do a recce for my risk assessment and found the place looking not like I thought it does. Not at all.

So, what to do if about a week before the planned shooting date you realise that you made a huge mistake and have no sufficient location to shoot the scene you have everything else in place for? (Well, everything I was to do, we were still short of a coffin, but I had faith it would be there on time.) You find another location, of course. I did what I should have done ages ago, and sent away emails to funeral homes, looked up more churches, asked around among friends if anyone could help. After a couple of frantic days, I got an email from a local funeral home – they were happy to help. And one of the days they gave me was one of our planned shooting days! It was a heaven-sent solution.

This, of course, meant another couple of frantic days, liaising with cast and crew about the switching of dates, trying to book specific equipment I also forgot about or just didn’t have for the right dates. In the meantime, my first cancellation came in – a friend who offered her house for a shooting day had to back out. The corona started to catch up with my efforts. An actor backed out. My crew started to get anxious about shooting amidst the spreading of the virus. And it was just like that – in two days, in one weekend. The plans I have made for the shooting of our short suddenly seemed impracticable. And more importantly, I started to hear the fear in the online voices of my crew. And that did it for me. It pulled me out of the trans of work and opened my eyes to the world around me.

On the 18th of March, I sent an email to my lecturers, explaining to them why I had to call off the shoot entirely. After that, I started to notify all those people I had been in contact with to tell them, we are not shooting. It took me a whole morning to write all those emails and messages on three different platforms and countless threads. It was a curious feeling. I made an executive decision, the first one I have felt the weight of. Once I did it, once the decision was made and the first email sent, I felt empty and relieved at the same time. Sounds so silly now, such a personal drama about a tiny, 3rd-year student film, yet, it was a momentous morning for me. I felt I did the right thing and – for the first time – I recognised the pandemic around me.

What did I learn? That I am a pretty good producer in the making. I need to work on my interpersonal skills, but I am pretty good at liaisoning and organising when I put my mind to it. I have also learned that there are no shortcuts to it, you must check everything, write every email, make every phone call, on time. (I believe I have been told that by EVERY single lecturer of mine in the last 4 years. I am a quick study!)

After the call off, my workplace shut indefinitely, and I came home to my family for the time being. I am looking forward to the end of the pandemic. I hope that we can resume our work in September – although 2020/2021 still like to be a different school year. But hey, we are living in historic times! What a story to tell.