Adios Morocco!

Goodbye Ouarzazate! 10/26/2014

The following excerpt is the final post and conclusion to the TUT BLOG - started in August.

Final Thoughts -

Travelling the world is one of the wonderful benefits of working in our industry. With that adventure, comes new challenges. In third world countries, the crew bases are improving and in fact have become actually quite competent, (but there isn’t much depth). This attracts producers who are lured by the cheaper labor costs, miles from any union business agent. Here’s what happens - the first decent budget project in country will get the best crew, second project – second best crew and so on. TUT was the fifth project in country, so we struggled with crew competency. This is where the burnish of the adventure can wear thin - quickly. I don’t mind shooting and running a film school simultaneously if the “crew” is receptive to receiving help. Such was the case with my group. I can’t do every job well on a film set, but I can spot when someone is struggling. If that struggle starts to look unsafe I will quickly get involved. This happened to us often, especially when cameras were being rigged. As everyone knows, I’ve always been a huge fan of the grip department, and have been a keen observer of their skill for many years. From great grips, I have learned and shared, excellent knots and little tricks that enhance safety and efficiency. Safety and efficiency are not hallmarks of inexperienced crews in far away places. Fortunately, there were no serious accidents on this project.

The point is this though, and it’s an important one for young directors and cinematographers. Our jobs are hard enough as it is, and if you have to keep an eye on everyone else doing theirs, then something is going to suffer. In my case on TUT, it was the number of quality shots we made each and every day. We didn’t make bad shots, it just took way longer to make good ones. So, approach each day with reasonable expectations and enjoin your team with your enthusiasm and expectations. This will pay dividends, though in the process, your health and stamina will be mightily affected. Additionally, these shoots are difficult, and you must make tough personnel decisions along the way. I made several that immediately resulted in improved morale and productivity! These tune-ups are ostensibly for your sanity first, but don’t be surprised if you notice a lot more respect from everyone else who watches how you lead the charge, all day long. In the Muslim world they respect the “strong” horse. So be one.

In the end, we always get through these productions and soon find the little things that make us proud and find memorable. Since I have worked in Morocco before, it wasn’t that. And we just finished two days ago, so I don’t have a long view yet. For now, the short one is that, in every way, we were “The Very Bad News Bears” and amazingly, we managed to win the championship in the end.

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