The Joy of Dailies

I've been a part of the film industry for a long time and have seen many changes since my first days on set.

Not all of the changes have been for the better - and the one I think about frequently is the demise of dailies.

Film production requires technical and social skills. In fact, sometimes your advancement is attributable to your ability to get along, solve problems with a smile and provide comfort to a crew friend who might need it. It takes a while to get to know new teammates, but it happened faster in the old days because just about everyone on the crew attended dailies. Dailies, is the process of reviewing the printed footage from the previous days work. During the screening, the director the editor and the DP do most of the talking. Some of it is complimentary and some of it isn’t. Occasionally, other crew people speak up in defense of a problem or a trend, but for the most part we stay quiet unless spoken to. Actors are never allowed to attend dailies. It’s generally a wonderful experience where you can discover the directors intent of the coverage of the scene, what he likes and dislikes, and is he pleased or not. Sometimes the print is too dark or too light or biased towards a particular color and this will annoy the DP to no end -especially if it is an ongoing occurrence. Occasionally the makeup people would squeal about the look of the actors and that can start a real brouhaha for the DP. If some critical shots are poorly framed or out of focus this can begin a deathwatch for certain crew members - particularly if they said all was good after the take. If the dailies session starts off bad it usually ends bad, where people are called out in front of the group. It’s tough medicine for sure, but it does make you step it up. Praise is handed out in equal doses as well.

More often than not, dailies were good and occasionally even great - if an actor really nailed a scene or one or two shots were truly spectacular! But of all of these possibilities, the take away for me has always been that you got a feel for how good the movie might be and that all of the hard work was paying off. And when things were going well, the entire crew could take pride in their collective achievements because the proof was on the screen for all to see!

We don’t get together and bond in the screening room anymore and I miss that for the young people on their way up. The experience of dailies was an educational opportunity on so many levels and is not available in any other form today.

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