“9+1” Production Journal: Day 1

by Thomas

day_1

I’ve been hired as the Director of Photography on a episodic detective thriller shooting in Tbilisi, Georgia. After two months of prep, today was the first day of principal photography. I hope to make periodic journal entries to track our progress.

Day One was pretty good, all things considered. There were the usual small bumps and moments of miscommunication, but we’ve got a great team. Since we’ve already been scouting and shooting camera tests together for a few months, our group already feels like a family. On set we speak two languages: Russian and Georgian. My hope is that by the end of the shoot we’ll be operating almost entirely in Georgian.

I’m going to try to include one thing I learned and one thing I’m grateful for in each journal entry. A lot of the lessons I learn are mistakes I’ve already made many times. Today I was reminded of the value of a smoothly functioning video village (the area with the monitors that show what we’re shooting). There are a lot of people who are invested in how things look on screen—the production designer, make-up artists, costumers, set decorators, and of course the director. There’s usually a lot happening around the camera during a set-up, and a well-functioning video village allows us to move a lot of creative and logistical conversations away from the camera and into a less chaotic space, which allows the team on set to work faster and more comfortably. It also allows me to present the director with what I think are the best visual options for the shot. I welcome feedback of course, and together the director and I often come up with a better plan, but video village allows us to start with what I think is the best option.

What I’m grateful for today: it may sound trivial, but actors who are both professional and want to be part of the production family are really a pleasure to work with. Actors have a completely different perspective on the production process than I do, as we work on different sides of the lens, and sometimes these two worlds don’t always mix easily. On this show the interaction between crew and cast has been very warm. I look forward to great collaboration, and great friendship.

The view from Kostava Street: autumn rain and broad horizons. The future is bright.