Little Jobs That Matter A Huge Amount In Filmmaking

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There are no small jobs. In life or in filmmaking. In fact, some of the smallest jobs are often the most crucial. That is one of the key things I learned while producing my first feature this past January in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Let me start out by saying that our cast and crew were beyond measure. Our cast was a devoted, lovely group of talented actors, who proved their professionalism and love of this business every day on set. Our crew…I am beyond words. We had 11 interns who volunteered three weeks of their life to help make this movie possible, and their jobs, however large or small made all the difference. The interns assisted with everything from art direction to transportation to craft services and I learned the most from these eager beavers because I learned the value of these jobs. Everyone knows the importance of a director or producer or makeup artist. But what about the jobs that are even further behind the camera? These jobs, and these interns, deserve their chance to shine.

Some of the most important behind the scene and sometimes forgotten jobs when making a movie are:

  • Transportation! Having one person in charge of shuffling actors between locations and running errands for crew on set was more important than I could have imagined. Yes, that person may have had down time between errands, but they were always there ready to pick up snacks or an extra extension cord. Additionally, having one person that shuffles around the actors is really important because they begin to build a rapport with them and feel more comfortable on set. Some actors are only filming for one or two days in the middle of a three-week shoot so it is important that they have that stability and feel comradery with at least one member of the crew.
  • Someone in charge of talent – On that note, it is important to have someone assigned to talent management. We had some well known actors on set and it was important to have one person in charge of making sure they were happy and comfortable. Again, actors can sometimes be the odd one out because they may not know the crew or other cast members. Make sure there is someone they can turn to for help if need be!
  • Location Manager: Our film was as indie as they come and thankfully most of the locations donated their spaces to our cause. This meant that we wanted to return all the locations to their original state (or better!) when we left. It was crucial to have someone always taking notes about how the rooms were set up before we arrived and ensure that all pillows, books, furniture, and picture frames were returned to their exact location. Additionally, we made sure all damage was noted so it could be taken care of easily in the future!

The importance of these three jobs were not even on my radar before producing this film. Of course I have been on sets before with these designated people but I did not realize their necessity until I needed them time and time again on this feature.

My last little realization was of the importance of separating jobs and departments in filmmaking. We were one community striving towards a common goal, but it was key for every person to know their role and stick to that purpose. An obvious example is if the makeup artist was helping the transportation person pick up food then there was the chance that the actors would go on camera all bright and shiny (not in a good way!). A subtler example is that if the location manager was out running an errand for another department and forgot to check in with the next location, it might be locked which puts everything behind schedule!

Let’s put this in a simile that everyone can understand: Making a movie is like planning and executing a wedding every day for a month. A bride can’t be a bride and a wedding planner at the same time, and the person in charge of silverware is just as important as the florist! Each job, however small, is KEY to making a movie and without these little jobs the community, and movie, would just fall apart. Here’s to all those amazing interns, and everyone else who’s small behind the scene jobs deserve to be acknowledged. I salute you!

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Deborah Smith

About Deborah Smith

Actress/ Blogger/Storyteller - Deborah is the ultimate girl next door/ gal pal but don’t underestimate her wit or brains. Originally from Los Angeles, she fell in love with the Bay Area while attending UC Berkeley in English and Theater. Since she caught the travel bug, she moved to Australia to pursue her Master’s Degree in Film Production and Marketing. Five years, and one Aussie boyfriend later, she has worked in the Australian film industry while starting a construction surveying company and her own marketing/web design freelance business. She has returned to Los Angeles to continue building characters, chase her dream of becoming a superhero, and write about powerful historical women whose tales’ go unheard!