Thursday, September 10, 2009

Keep It Simple, Stupid.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."
- Albert Einstein

I'm meeting with the Gaffer to discuss an upcoming shoot. Due to some scheduling mishaps, I'm unable to scout the locations with him, so he's drawing them out on a coffee shop napkin.

"So on day three, we're going to be at a school downtown. We're inside for most of the day, and it's pretty simple stuff. In fact, we can probably just go off of house power and not even worry about the generator until night... That's when it starts to get interesting..."

"Um... Okay..." I hate it when they say "interesting" like that.

The Gaffer begins to draw a diagram. "It's not too bad... It's just a bunch of wide shots of them coming into the parking lot. But we will need to run a bunch of lights and the problem is with the generator. It's going to sit here (he points to a corner of the napkin) which means we'll have to run cable all along this wall, all along this side, and around this part. We're also going to be setting some lights up on the roof, so we need to get enough cable to go from here (points to a spot on the napkin... He's drawn so many squiggles and lines that I have no idea what that spot's supposed to be) to up here (points to another spot; I'm assuming the roof). The generator may be in the shot, but I'm going to talk to the DP to see if he can frame it out. If not, then we need to somehow cover it up with a solid or duvetyne or something... Whatever. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. The main thing is figuring how much more cable we're going to need since there's not going to be nearly enough in the equipment package we're already getting. I'll need you to put in a separate order for that and some extra cross-overs. Production's trying to cut costs and they don't want to pay for a week's rental on something we're not going to need until Tuesday... And unfortunately, because the budget's so tight, they're not letting us hire an extra guy to help you with the cable, so..."

I look up at the Gaffer who's giving me his "I'm-sorry-but-this-day's-going-to-suck-for-you" look. I hate that look.

I turn my attention back to the napkin.

"You said these are all wide shots?"


"Are they running sound on the wides?"

".... No."

"Can we put the generator here instead?" I point to a spot on the napkin that's closer to all the action, closer to where the lights need to land, and definitely out of frame no matter where the camera looks.

The Gaffer thinks for a minute before he begins to chuckle. "Sure. You can also forget about everything I just said too."

I look at the Gaffer who's giving me his "why-the-hell-didn't-I-think-of-that-sooner" look.

I give him a "it's-because-I'm-a-genius" nod.

He pulls out a fresh napkin and starts drawing another set...


Nathan said...

I had a similar experience on a Tech Scout a few years ago. The D.P. and the Gaffer and the Designer were wracking their brains discussing all sorts of complicated scenarios for lighting an office in a location...all of which involved building false walls and a bunch of other equally difficult solutions.

Being only the Location Manager, I didn't feel like it was my place to put in my 2¢ until they started asking for things that would impact the location. At that point, I pointed out that the whole room had a drop ceiling; couldn't we just remove a few panels and hang the lights above the gaps?

It was kind of a "Duh" moment all around.

nahiyan said...

My life is littered with moments like that, but it's usually me doing the mental gymnastics when something more simple would be better.

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