I was fourteen when I had a conversation with my mother on what degree I will take in college. I told her straight, I want to become a part of the world of mass media. She was not entirely puzzled about it, but asked me why in a tone as if I went completely nuts. She went in full details about this and that, what’s in store for me, and about my life being in total distress with limitless pressure by people who really have no idea on what they’re doing. All of it entered my left ear and exited through my right ear in a matter of split second. My thoughts were simple – I want to influence, to make a difference and to make a change. It may sound like a Michael Jackson hit but at that very moment, I knew that even my mother could not stop me. I explained her everything I want to happen – to become a news anchor with credibility, to become a journalist that would expose the dirtiest secrets, to be a filmmaker and change a generation, or to become a writer so that my thoughts while I lay on my bed become a game changer in the society. But in the end, I took Engineering. How was that?
Now, as I watch the footage of our first short film, I don’t know why the moment my mother and I were talking comes flashing over and over again. It seems like she is sending messages from up above and telling me exactly what she would always telling me – mass media is for bad ass people. For a moment, I thought she was right. I felt the disappointment while my team was working on our first short. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely knew what I signed up for. I know for a fact that there are outside elements that would attempt to penetrate the pseudo-bulletproof walls we built when we were talking in pre-production. But I never knew it would be huge.
Everything started out pretty well – from the revisions of the screenplay to equipment rentals and hiring of actors and crew. But as the days went by, the problems became evident. It was us that became the problem. It was us who I presumed to be in control of the situation. It was us that lacked communication. I cannot remember when it all started, maybe it was in Matt Siegel’s workshop when to be honest I was pissed with my DP for the lack of willingness to help out in other things, or maybe when my two teammates wanted to do the same job but with different approach, or when they went to a different program that I felt left out, with the only messages coming in to my phone were all about being burnt out and how hard their schedules will be. I really don’t care about it because I thought from the beginning that they knew what they were doing. I thought they were “scheduling their priorities and not prioritizing their schedules”. It sucks to be in the position wherein you always have to wait for someone to contact you because you are clueless if they’re awake, on break, or even on-duty while I was busy contacting the others who until this day (well, technically until the time they read this, with the exception of the few people I talked to before the shoot) have no idea that this short film was that close to being dumped in the trash. It’s hard to believe that in a snap, I looked like I was asking them for favor. It pissed me off during the time that I single-handedly shouldered the preparations of the things my team don’t want to get a hand on. But I gotta do what I gotta do. And I’ve got to be thankful for that, because at least now I know I can.
The day of the shoot came, it did not go the way I expected and dreamt of it. I thought I will be waking up at 5am, with busy crew working their asses off around me. And while everyone was busy fixing things, I thought of having a cup of coffee and talking to my DPs about our story. But what happened was completely out of control. The lights we were supposed to borrow from someone was unavailable, which is why I had to make last-minute adjustments with our equipment rental to compensate for the I-thought-will-be-there lights. We weren’t able to go to the grocery to get some stuff because we ran late. We were also almost two hours behind schedule, we shot the first scene at 9am which was supposed to start at 7am. Rants from one of them made me quiet especially when even before the shoot, I though we’ll use what equipment were available to us. So why bother say bad things about an equipment when you had a chance to fix it beforehand? I thought we made it clear that we were on the same page.
After about 12 hours of shoot, it was done – well not quite. I never thought the issues will arise after the shoot and not while shooting. Tip for starting up students and enthusiast: two very different persons with very different views cannot work on the same slate. It just won’t work.
I thought I was “living the dream” while I was all busy doing logistics, instructing actors, and coordinating with the Production Designer, and even getting a permit for the location. I thought “yeah I can live with it everyday”, because it is something that I love; it is something I thought could not happen the moment I first set my foot on that very first Chemistry class of my Engineering course syllabus. I was prepared for it. But I guess it just doesn’t work like that. Sometimes it’s not enough for you to be prepared, but your team has to be prepared.
After all the things that went down on that shooting day, I thanked God for keeping me in one piece. But the film isn’t going to be complete on its own. Someone has to edit it. And I thought it was clear that one of my teammates will do it because to be honest, I had no idea on how to do it (at least at that time). A week passed and the film had not taken any leap from where we left off. Comments came to me that someone is not happy with the shots; cinematic framing is not the same in all the sequences; lighting is a bit flat; how the work was disseminated on our shooting day; and then someone will counter that with the reason that it was the purpose of using one lens. My thoughts are these: if something was wrong, why didn’t I hear a complain on the day of shoot? And I thought it was clear that they’ll be working side by side though I always remind them that they would clash and I was pretty certain about it, and why say “using one lens” when we used three? It seemed that on the day of shooting, there were issues but they were in-denial about it.
With editing is almost finished, music is next then audio cleaning and color grading if they want. But the lack of shots that we got from the shoot really makes it difficult for my teammates to edit the film as we envisioned it, also because some of the planned shots were not made because of maybe time restrictions, equipment, or anything else. There are talks of having a re-shoot as some of the continuity are not seamless (I myself is guilty about it), and there are talks of just dumping it once and for all and move on to the next.
My insides were screaming as I listen to their reasons. I was looking at each of them (we haven’t had a chance to talk as a group at the moment) but my mind was on the day I told my mother that this is what I want and this is what I’ll do no matter what. It was frustrating that after everything we’ve done, all the efforts we exerted, the money we shelled out, and all the time we talked about the plans, everything is on the verge of being a pile of waste occupying my hard drive and memory cards. I love doing this. I wasn’t completely happy with what happened before, during, and after but I won’t stop. It’s just the beginning of a never-ending quest for that one feature that will change the way things are going. And about my mother’s comment about this industry being full of bad-ass people? “Well Mom, I am bad-ass. But just like McDonald’s, “I’m lovin’ it.””. These are just my thoughts. Feel free to tell me if I’m wrong. Ed Sheeran said “I’m sorry for the honesty but I have to get this off my chest”.