Being Proactive, Not Reactive

The middle of no where, Thailand

The flight to Thailand was longer than the time I had to pack my bags. Preparation is one of the most important aspects of filmmaking. It’s something I’ve spent countless times refining to lock down the best process for all aspects of production, preparation, on-set and file management in post. When you produce a video, commercial or documentary being prepared is the difference from knowing what to do and knowing why to do it on set. It’s the difference between reactive and proactive. Reactive is watching the events unfold throughout your day on set and changing your approach to the varying parameters – this can be weather, a broken camera, a missing mic, etc. Being proactive is being prepared to complete your job in a professional manner no matter what happens. Being prepared to deal with the unknown (hint: there is always the unknown in any kind of filmmaking). Knowing why to shoot something with a 50mm lens, handheld instead of the same 35mm lens you’ve had on a tripod all day has proven to be invaluable to us. To sum it up, it’s the difference between a good product and a bad one.

Snake dancing for the camera
Snake dancing for the camera

I’m always trying to further prepare myself as I’m constantly finding myself in situations where I’m needing to adapt, and being proactive in this environment is something that eases any hurdles I find myself in. For example, a few years ago I was lying in bed reading a book at 10:30pm on a Sunday evening when my phone rang. It was a colleague and our conversation went like this: “Hello.”
“Want to go to Thailand?”
“Yes” I responded.
“Be at the airport at 8:00am, I’ll meet you in LA with the rest of the team. Our flight for Thailand leaves LAX at 10:45am.”

Thailand. I was about to fly 1/2 around the world- a flight longer than the amount of time I had to prepare for it. The client was a top international lifestyle brand, there was no room for error. We were shooting on Super 16mm film, which usually has more happening then a digital camera (since you can easily check what you’re capturing in digital). The only way I would have been able to do this was making sure I was fully prepared. Having my ditty bag ready to go at all times, my passport nearby and the right attitude I was off to shoot a broadcast commercial for a worldwide brand.