I never thought I could observe so much on a real production set outside the classroom. To start with, I have never been on such a huge set before. I arrived at the set and introduced myself to Callum whom I was assisting on the grip. Knowing that I am only a student, Callum guided me completely on what gripping was about. Most importantly, it took me one whole day to figure out the names and features of all the gear in his van. I have never seen or even used some of equipments like the avenger stand, the Obama rig, the hollywood plank, apple boxes and even the floppies (blacks) that measured 12 ft by 10 ft.
Initially I got into the rhythm of work by carrying all the gear back and forth from the van to the camera spot. I would watch Callum set the gear up and give him hand now and then. By the second day that I have observed enough, Callum now started to share his responsibilities with me. I felt as if I got promoted to a senior crew role. From then on, we used to split our tasks in setting up the equipment.
For every shot, Callum would discuss with the DOP regarding the shot and he would later come together with the gaffer and decide on the appropriate lighting and blacking. Once they have their plan locked, he would then instruct me on how and where the gear should be set. From then it becomes my responsibility to pull out the appropriate stands and rigs from his van and assemble them on the required spot. When time permits Callum would set it up together with me, or else he would definitely come back in a while to make a quality and safety check on my assembly. It was only through this process that I felt I had a purpose on the set. More than just assisting, I finally felt I was a part of the whole process.
As an aspiring director, I watched closely how the direction team worked with each other. It was only in this set, I learnt about the roles of the different ADs on the set. The 1st AD usually runs the whole set, and also serves as an intermediate between the director and the crew. The 2nd AD took care of sending the call sheets and was closely associated with all the Production runners. The 3rd AD had the sole responsibility of coordinating with the extras. Our director Merin strictly stuck to the split screen and had her full focus on the actors. It is a very obvious attribute of a director on set, but it took me all this while to realise it. On every set there is always a lot going behind the director. The whole technical team coordinates with the camera team and comes up with the solution that matches with the director’s desire.
Other than the students, every other crew member on the set had an average industry experience of at least 6 years. I realised how lucky I am to be on this set. In just four days I have seen and tasted what it takes to work on a professional set. It turns out to be too tiring at the end of the day, but my passion and determination to grow big will make me keep going.