Taking a hard look


An opportunity a couple of years ago helped me to see what it means to collaborate and why film-making is about collaboration. Till that one month passed, I had largely lost track of the world beyond it.

I had to live and breath those few scenes we were shooting in those few days. Every day brought with a brand new crisis, one we got past. It never mattered whether the solution was a satisfactory one or not. Or even an optimum one. You got the job done. You may piss off people. You learn to tell people off. You quickly see your shortcomings. And you quickly learn (though you have learnt it earlier but maybe refused to consider it) that life is not fair.

The main thing that struck me about film production is how unfair it can be. How much hard work goes into a film is unbelievable, The sheer scale of it. It is a physically laborious and arduous job where people have to hold still, with heavy pieces of equipment, in extreme discomfort because one actor does not get one line right, repeatedly. Or work an additional three hours because the actress took longer than usual on her makeup.

While I know actors and actresses work really hard, I think it’s the production team that works the hardest. Without the production team, the film would probably not get made at the level it does. And I am still on talking about pre and productions days. The post production team and the distribution also have their jobs cutout for them and it’s not something I am getting into yet.

Yet nobody really talks about that aspect. It is certainly not mentioned when you find interviews are given or films are declared a hit or a loss. Films, no more, can be absolutes for me, for this one reason. For all those people who put their sweat and blood and cramped muscles and missed meals into it. Their effort has to be appreciated, no matter that the vision of the creative team didnt make a pretty picture.

No producer gets the kind of credit an actor or a director gets when it’s truly the producer and his team that are wholly responsible for actually making the film happen. No actor or director would be where he is without that entire team of spots, makeup, lights all working to ensure that the actor looks perfect take after take.

This is not just about assistant directors or executive producers. It is a constant  exercise in proving Pareto’s analysis time and time again. While in an office maybe you can hide behind reports, time sheets and favours but when a film is on the floors, if you do not do your work, it shows. Here too, you will always find someone else to do your job but since you are as good as your last job, it may not always stand in good stead. It’s an incredible effort of so many teams and people that come together to to try and create a vision, one person or one group must have had.

Another observation was that we are a classist society.  I know it is not brand new information but for me, it was the first time I encountered it so closely. The film units prove it time and time again. By putting their technicians in different hotels (not necessarily in lower budgets) and giving out different food spreads. By asking drivers to eat later.And all this I am told was  a good production house who was (almost) fair to everyone. It feels really sad that the technicians are not always treated at par. Money sometimes cannot make up for the respect they should automatically get.

But my respect for the creative aspects of film have moved down a notch knowing the creative guns take all this for granted. I wonder if it is better in other film industries across the world? Hollywood? Europe?



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