Working on a Professional Film Crew

Hey y’all,

EnumclawFilmLogo3.1-03I’ve been crazy busy, and haven’t written here in a while. I thought today I’d share a bit with you about my crazy busy-ness, as I found it very educational and interesting. Everyone else has their own stories to tell about our work these past weeks on the “Enumclaw Film”, as we call it, but mine is rather lengthy just because I was doing so many different things for both pre-production, and production.

A few months back we Polings and Swets volunteered on a local historical film project. We’ve been talking about it off and on, as you may remember. Well, we’ve finally shot the film! I’ve been doing a variety of different jobs on the project. These are my “official titles”; things I will be credited for in the credits of the film and on IMDB:

  • Hair and Makeup Lead
  • Associate Producer
  • Locations Manager

I also volunteered to handle social media and the blog for the project, which included designing a logo, and writing a lot of the information the public would see about the project, and now, posting pictures from the production on Facebook etc.

Hair and Makeup

Our makeup and hair setup for day 1.

Our makeup and hair setup for day 1.

I originally signed up to be the Hair and Makeup Lead. Whew! It sounded like such a big job! I was kinda scared, very excited, and still nervous up until the very last person was done. The director assured me that even though I didn’t feel qualified for the job, she felt I was because she knew I would focus on details, and do tests to learn the things I didn’t already know how to do (like apply crepe beards and moustaches, and do temporary hair coloring).

After my original assistant fell through at the last minute, I found an assistant on Craigslist who was much better at makeup than I was. We devised a system where I did the hairstyling and FX makeup, and she did most of the other makeup. It worked wonderfully, and I felt much more at ease having someone who has a lot more makeup experience under their belt do the majority of the looks. It also made it much easier to churn out finished actors because we could both be working on the same person at once: she on makeup, and me on hair. Or, we could work on different people, then have the actors switch chairs. It was an awesome partnership that worked really well.

This is the crepe beard I applied.

The infamous beard!

I learned a lot, not just about makeup, but preparing for something like this. I learned how to go through the script and be able to translate what the director was seeing into specific notes and looks for certain actors. I learned how to make a budget and what kind of things you need to think about buying when you have to do a lot of people’s hair and makeup in a sanitary way. I learned how to clean and pack “my kit” in a way that makes it easy to get what I need really fast, keep things clean and organized when I have to move from place to place quickly. I also learned how to estimate how long it would take for each person to go through my department, so that the Assistant Director could make sure they were there early enough for us to work our magic. πŸ˜‰

I had a few heart-stopping moments, like when the main actor who I was supposed to put a beard on (I scheduled 3 hrs for him) showed up 45 minutes late and the schedule had to be completely re-arranged so that I could get it done. It was nerve wracking, and the beard kept having issue after issue, and finally, I had to take him down to set with a beard I was very unhappy with and had worked for a really long time on. It turned out okay, because the heat and a couple of costume changes calmed down a lot of the issues with the beard and it looked good for the rest of the night, but I was just sick in my stomach for a while because I thought it looked so bad.

I had some wonderful moments too, where everything turned out so perfectly, in spite of my inexperience, and I had a little internal squeal of delight that I got to work on such a cool project. πŸ˜€

Associate Producer

A few months ago, the Director noticed that I was really good at organizing and keeping track of details, so she hired me to schedule the casting. This seemed like a fairly simple job, so I said, yes, and dived right in. Right away, I found out why they hire someone specifically to do this job. As soon as the casting announcement was posted, I was sending and receiving probably almost 100 emails a day, cataloging actors, scheduling them a time slot at the audition, answering questions, sending them little bits of script to prepare… It was a monumental job! Then came the audition dates, and I needed to make sure everyone signed in correctly, got us all of their information, and got their questions answered. It was fun!…. and I was tired.

Epic vintage car-ness. Photo credit: Micah Swet

Epic vintage car-ness. Photo credit: Micah Swet

This eventually fell under my “Associate Producer” title, because I went on to handle a lot of other details, like helping to find classic cars and trucks for the film (which Micah eventually took over, and did a SPECTACULAR job with), filtering through resources that the community was offering in terms of props and costumes, and finding and communicating with last minute extras. Basically, The Producer is the person who gets everyone what they need to do their job, and this can be as big as finding and hiring members of the crew, or as small as bringing extension cords. As the Associate Producer, I handled a lot of the details in making sure each department actually had what they needed when the 3 days of production started. And yes, I brought extension cords…. and a few power strips.

Locations Manager

Filming Miss Ostregard. Photo credit, Micah Swet

Filming Miss Ostregard. Photo credit, Micah Swet

A couple weeks before production started, the Director hired me for a second job: Locations Manager. Technically, this is a very producer-y kind of job, and on small films like this, The Producer usually handles it. My job was to contact all of the places, large and small, that we wanted to film at, about 13 in all, figure out who the owner was, make sure we could film there at the day/time we needed, and make sure they were comfortable with us being there. I was on the phone pretty much ALL day for a couple weeks, as locations we had planned on fell through, and we had to find new ones, and owners were not returning phone calls. I learned a TON about talking to people on the phone, and having a friendly business-like presence when talking to strangers.

Filming a scene in front of an old church, that is now a private residence.

Filming a scene in front of an old church that is now a private residence.

Another part of the Location Manager’s job is to make sure that each department gets their questions answered for each location. For instance, the camera and lighting crew needs to know if they can plug their equipment in, the sound crew needs to know if they can turn off any noisy things in the background (a big problem when filming in restaurants), the art department needs to know if they can take things off the walls and re-dress the room to fit our set needs… I needed to make sure we could use the bathroom at EACH LOCATION! It was my job to figure out where we could park in the downtown areas, where we could store our equipment, where we could eat, and where we could go to the bathroom (which is an issue when you are planning on filming in a field for more than half the day). The more I got into this job, the more I realized how big and important it was!

At the last minute, I also learned that it was my job to make sure that there were signs everywhere so that people didn’t get lost and that actors and extras knew were to go for wardrobe, hair and makeup. This was a big job in-and-of itself, and my brain was already overloaded with everything else, so Micah became my right hand man in this area. Together we made sure that people knew where to go, that the toilet paper never ran out, and that the buildings we used were clean and locked up before we left.

In Conclusion

Is it weird that I learned a ton about beard and moustache grooming? ;)

Is it weird that I learned a ton about beard and moustache grooming? πŸ˜‰

I used up a TON of note paper and was juggling more lists than I’ve ever written in my life- the upside being I learned how to organize massive amounts of information in new ways. I feel re-affirmed in my hair and makeup abilities, especially in the hair department where I had quite a few vintage looks that consistently turned out wonderfully. My feet hurt like crazy with the 12+ hr days, I got up crazy early and went to bed crazy late, and I practically lived out of my van for 3 days.Β I don’t think I’ve ever exuded more brain power in my life, but I had so much fun!

I think Producing is something that I am good at, something I have been naturally (and unknowingly) preparing to do for several years now, and something I’d love to try doing again. I had fun meeting and getting to know the filmmaking professionals who worked with us, and I hope I made a really good impression on them by working hard, being prepared to solve problems that no one else had thought of, and being ready for everything that got thrown at me with a ready smile and a good attitude. I have a secret (or not so secret now) hope that the contacts we made doing this film will turn into work on other fun projects in the Seattle area. πŸ˜‰

I’ve done way more with this film than I was originally planning to do, but I feel like this opportunity was something the Lord hand-crafted for this time in my life, as well as the rest of us Poling’s and Swet’s lives. I’m sure they’ll be writing more about their experience on the Enumclaw Film, and I’m VERY sure we’ll be excited to share the finished product with you when it comes out in early 2014.

Thanks for reading this monstrous-long post!

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles,

Rachel

P.S. If you haven’t already, take a sec and “like” the facebook page for this project. I’ve been sharing lots of cool pictures and there’ll be news about the premiere, etc.

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About Rachel Poling

Rachel Poling is a serial hobbyist and one of those sopranos who can sing really high notes and likes sparkly jewelry. She enjoys researching, mulling, doodling, and implementing costume, makeup, and hair ideas. She also enjoys working on film scores, doing color correction, and generally having a toe dipped in anything pre-production. She has yet to act in any films, but she hopes to play an evil queen someday. View all posts by Rachel Poling

3 responses to “Working on a Professional Film Crew

  • MattM

    Firstly: Wow. Stress, heart stopping moments, lots of responsibility, early mornings/late nights, days spent w/phones and computers, and so many important to-do details it makes my head ache.
    But also very fun and exciting for all of you guys, full of opportunity and possibilities for future, bigger projects. Let me know when Peter Jackson hires you all for the third installation of the Hobbit trilogy πŸ˜‰
    Thanks for sharing your awesome filming process! πŸ˜€

  • Known by their Character | Lifestyle of Learning

    […] P.S. Here’s a blog post by my daughter Rachel about some of her experiences with the professional film making. […]

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