April 25th, 2012 by Glendyn
Mid way through my first block of Puberty Blues. Long days and nights battling schedules, budget, time, the sun and the surf and the rain. Not that I’m battling against those things, it’s just the reality of production. I guess the trick is (and I’m constantly reminding myself this) is to try and remain flexible and work with it and around it as you go. Push as much as you can, but allow yourself to be pulled when you have to.
‘Time’ even on the most luxurious and well organised of shoots is rarely on your side and I’m reminded each day of the reality ‘it’s not how good a director you are, it’s how good a director you are while under the pump and having to make things work, with very little time’.
Some days I feel like I get it right, others times I spend the drive back home to Newtown from Cronulla wondering how I could have made it work better, more efficiently, given better direction, revealed the drama and/or the onscreen relationships better. Each day on set brings it’s own unique set of challenges, you win some and enivitably you lose some. But hopefully it balances out.
Luckily for me I have an incredible cast (and scripts!) I can rely on to make the job a whole lot little easier! I am constantly amazed and full of gratitude when actors bring out their best in pressured situations. It does more than make it easier, it makes it a privilege!
We have had more than a few ‘ambitious’ shoot days. A mass of extras, large interior and exterior locations, all period dressed and set for 1977. Throw in some horses (girls riding bareback), shooting day for night and night for day, stunts, low loaders, fireworks and all the safety and restrictions that brings, so they are full on days to say the least.
In my limited experience, it seems most TV drama is designed around and works most efficiently when you have one, two, maybe three people talking in a room together. If you have the right script and cast and you are prepared, you can work through those kind of scenes pretty quickly. Making the drama work and make it look good as well. But the moment you involve anything else, it takes more time than you have. And by ‘anything’ I mean an extra person, an effect, or a stunt. Or the moment you go outside (or underground) or rely on weather or natural light, a fight, surfing(!!!) involve a car, water, freaking horses or anything other than two people in a room talking. It slows down really fast.
Which is why I guess a lot of TV consists of a couple of ‘people talking in a room’, then it cuts to more people talking in rooms etc. After all it is an almost limitless set up for story and drama.
Regardless, I do love finding myself amongst the organised chaos of shooting. Surrounded by talented artists and technicians, I wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else. Stealing shots, racing against the clock and making every second count. In fact somehow using the sense of urgency to create an atmosphere on set that despite all the push and the nessecity to be ‘moving on’ will feel alive and very much in the moment when on screen.