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  • Barry Silver

Three Lessons Learned from the Frontlines of a Movie Set

Some Mistakes Are Bigger Than Others

Despite my best intentions, all my life, at every turn, I have made mistakes. Some tiny ones and several huge whoppers.

Like the time I was 9 years old, playing with sawdust, matches and one soon-to-be-burnt vacuum cleaner. As I was sucking up all those flaming embers, I thought, what could possibly go wrong?

The answer: everything. Everything could go wrong. Though, as the saying goes, we learn from our mistakes - but do we really?

( )

Working on the set of HUGE FAN, I can honestly say I learned a lot from those things that I got right the first time. So here are just three of my lessons learned:

1) Show Up Early

Be the first one on the set. I know you may not be a morning person (I’m certainly not), but this is important.

It shows you really care about the production first and foremost, and telegraphs to your hardworking crew that you are working hard too. It means a lot if you need to ask them to work a little longer or go that extra mile later on.

2) Watch Your Dailies

When you are done filming every day, find a quiet room to watch your dailies. Checkout what was captured that day to make sure you have what you need to make your movie. Be sure to take notes for your editor (he/she will thank you).

When I watch, I try to think of new ideas for cutaways or insert shots that I can quickly capture while I still have my crew, or discover other shots that may need to be fixed. Either way, this process always enhances my storytelling in the editing room and has saved my butt on more than one occasion.

3) Develop The Bond In Advance

Before you even get to the set, make sure you spend some quality time with your principal crew and actors. Before we shot one frame of HUGE FAN, I hosted several get-togethers and two parties for cast and crew at my house. I even cooked!

This was a great way for people to get to know each other and build a sense of trust ahead of time. During the high stress of filming days, this trust goes a long way to building harmony on the set and helps create an atmosphere of collaboration that will do nothing but improve your movie.

Yeah, sure I learned stuff from the things I got wrong. Plenty of stuff. But I think the things I’m most proud of are the things that I got right. Supporting my crew and actors, creating a common sense of purpose, fostering collaboration and creativity, all were present on my set.

These are just three of the lessons I learned. There are so many more that I could tell. For now, I would just encourage you to go out and learn from something today! But try not to burn down the house.

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