Tag Archives: on set

The Greatest Two Weeks of My Life

Kyle Bailey is a film student at Asbury University in Kentucky, and most importantly, a member of Filmpunch. Not only that, but he’s one all-around amazing guy with whom we had the pleasure of working side by side on the set of Olan Rogers’ Pop Rocket this past summer. Here’s what he had to say:

The Greatest Two Weeks of My Life by Kyle Bailey
Filming Pop Rocket was my very first independent movie making experience, and my first experience working with professionals. Meeting Olan Rogers, Jake Sidwell, Thomas Gore, Brett Driver, and a few other YouTubers I’ve looked up to for years was an experience within itself (getting to work with people you look up to always is). But it didn’t take long for me to realize that what I had seen in their videos didn’t even show half of who they were in real life; they’re real people with hopes and aspirations, just like you and me. Lots of friendships were made over those two and a half weeks, including Andy and O’Ryan aka the Filmpunch Guys. You two are some of the most talented and humble people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Thanks for being amazing.

I had decided that once I got down to Nashville, I would keep a journal detailing everything that happened each day and night we filmed. It’s a very unique feeling to be in the midst of something special and know that you’re recording it for others to see. So much happened during my two and a half weeks of filming, and hopefully, I’ll do a good enough job of recounting my favorite parts. I’ll start off with my impressions after being there for a day:

“I’ve looked up to Olan and Jake as both being creative powerhouses, and it’s nice to find out that there are actual people behind the videos—people who care about their work and their friends more than getting views or being famous. They’ve both got something special and I’m blessed to be a part of it.”

Like I said before, that’s one of the things that really impacted me—I was working with real people who had real talent and heart, and that made a difference in how work was accomplished on set. In fact, this next entry talks about just that:

“I know that this is a budgeted production, but I’m used to stuff like this at school.  It’s almost bare bones, but there’s a vibe in the air that’s much more friendly and open than any I’ve ever felt at school. This is how sets should be run—messy, wild, rugged, with laughing at the forefront of the seriousness of what’s going on. I love it.”

I’m a film major at my university, and there’s a huge, state-of-the-art media facility at my disposal. I’ve directed TV shows, worked cameras, and been in musicals in that building, but none of the productions I’ve worked on can come close to having the same sense of camaraderie that the set of Pop Rocket had. Everyone got along with each other while getting things done quickly and efficiently. If there was a problem, we talked about how to fix it the quickest and easiest way possible, and then we did.

Filmmaking Sucks!
A large number of entries I wrote talk about how tired I was after each day of shooting. I did a lot of different things on set, including setting up green screens and soft boxes, making countless tracking markers, and about a hundred other odd jobs that needed to be done, oh and lest I forget cooking heaps of hotdogs. One of the things I enjoyed the most was getting to take behind the scenes photographs and videos. But I’m not going to sugarcoat it: filmmaking is hard work—seriously hard work. Late nights and early mornings for two and a half weeks will take their toll on your body and mind, and there are moments when you question whether or not what you’re doing is really going to make a sound once it’s released. Here’s an example:

“Today was definitely one of the more exhausting days. I got a bunch of experience shooting on a full green screen set that I helped build. Aside from that, I got to help out with the actual filming. I swept lights across Olan, Jake, and Thomas when they were on the hover bikes to make it look like they we’re racing down a city skyline. It’s something subtle, but I’ll be able to show it to people in the video and say that that’s what I did…if it makes the final cut, of course.”

You do so much work to make a five or six second shot look the absolute best it can, and even then, sometimes it’s not good enough. The simplest little problem can seem like a mountain that will never be climbed. But those moments can and will pass. Any problem can be solved with the right amount of thinking…and duct tape. And Reese’s. Always Reese’s.

Here’s the last things I wrote in my journal:

“I learned so much in such a short amount of time, and I’ve been influenced by so many people, Olan and Jake in particular.  My time with the crew and cast has been just amazing. I’ve made so many new friends and memories with people I never thought I’d get to work with, and those memories will undoubtedly last for the rest of my life. It’s been a crazy two weeks of filming, fun, hardships, and work. I’ve never been a part of something this big before, and it’s staggering to think that I was even able to come down and help out. I wouldn’t trade these two weeks for anything in the world. The relationships I’ve made with people, the experiences I’ve had, and the product that’s been created have all had profound impacts on me. I can’t wait to start making movies of my own. It’s the only thing I want to do, and it’s the only thing that will satisfy me. So I’m going to do the absolute best I can to make that dream a reality.

Here I Go…
Making movies isn’t just art. It’s not just a career path. It’s something that can literally change lives. Movies are one of the easiest ways to bring about that change, and creating them is one of the things I cherish most in my life. If what I help create can change someone’s life for the better, then I’ve done my job right. I have no doubt that Pop Rocket will change people for the better; it’s got heart to it. I’ll leave you with this: if being on the set of Pop Rocket has taught me anything, it’s that working together on a project everyone loves and wants to see succeed will bring those people closer together. And a group that works well together can accomplish just about anything. Don’t let the little things get you down, and never ever stop looking for inspiration. That’s the key to making something you believe in a reality.

You can follow Kyle’s work here.

Spider monkey

Set Etiquette

Whilst on the set of “Pop Rocket,” we had the pleasure of working alongside this great guy. His name is Justin Robinson . . . remember it. Someday you’ll be hearing it more often, no doubt. An aspiring filmmaker from South Carolina with an impressive repertoire of experiences under his belt already for such a young fellow, Justin has a great eye for photography and a natural vision for film. He was an invaluable asset to set production; constantly finding ways to improve the scene, the attitudes of those around him, alleviate stress and workload on the director and PAs alike, and just being an overall gofer. The following is a blog post from his personal website, which he allowed us to share with all of you. Enjoy, and make sure you follow the link at the bottom to check out his work!

Set Etiquette by Justin Robinson
Here is my two cents, along with a nickel and some thoughts on what I believe you should pack into your knapsack of on set behavior. By all means, my name isn’t Steven Spielberg, nor is it Rustin Jobinson. I just want to share the little knowledge that I have on this beautiful topic. I’m beyond grateful for the opportunities to serve on the few sets that I have! I look forward to the next one(s).

As the Joker says, “. . . and here we go!”

Have a Servant’s Heart

Ladies first, dude. Leave your pride and insecurities at the door. Be willing to be the guy who makes the pizza run on set. Forget credit. Be there for the right reasons. Serve others, serve the story, and serve the project any way you can. Be the best coffee-pourer in the world, and wrap cords like a champ. The level of your work ethic shouldn’t change when people are in the same room as you or not. Make a fool of yourself, and make people laugh. Laughter is a healthy recipe for a set. Lift burdens of work off others’ shoulders.

Think like MacGyver

Make things out of nothing! So many times on set, I’ve been in a pickle trying to rig up some lights or something, and out of no where, someone will come up with a simple but brilliant idea of how to rig it. I’m not saying just throw duct tape on everything, but make things work. Don’t bring more problems to the set, bring solutions. Things will break, learn how to deal with it. Think like a filmmaker—be creative.

Be Alert

Listen, listen, listen, and take initiative! If you see something that needs to be done, don’t look around to see if anyone else sees it, go do it. Know where everything is on set, so that when you’re asked, you’re not like, “Where is that?” If you see that someone is having a headache, pop out some Advil. In between takes, bring some water to the crew and cast members. A little drink of water can brighten someone’s day. If you see the director carrying things that he shouldn’t have to, jump to it. Most of the time, especially on indie sets, most PAs sit around during takes instead being one step ahead of the game. Keep your eyes out for when someone isn’t feeling well, or when you can tell they’re dealing with some crap off set. Be sensitive to those things and fill in the gap. Do things without being asked to. Be alert.

Don’t Complain

Having a bad attitude on set can be contagious. It’s unhealthy and it’s hard to cure. No one likes a complainer, stop it. Filmmaking is some of the hardest work out there, so you need to absolutely love it. The hours fluctuate like an emotional girl. Sometimes you work 15-18 hour days! If you’re reliable and work your butt off, they’ll call you back. Keep your mindset away from self and turn it to others.


Run

Long story short, don’t walk! Obviously, running saves tons of time and it shows that you care. When you’re asked to grab something from the other side of the set, run. If you walk, you’ll probably end up wasting precious daylight on your facial-book or texting the girlfriend you don’t have.

Don’t Take Things Personally

Don’t expect everyone to act like Jesus. Shooting schedules, deadlines, weather, tempers, and egos . . . what a combination for the self-esteem of the American 20th century male. Filmmaking is so frustrating at times. Long hours and the lack of food and sleep deprivation don’t help, either. If people saw the amount of work that went into that 3 second shot, they’d be amazed. When you’re not paying attention and the crew is breaking down a scene, and one of the gaffers yells at you to get out of the way, don’t take it personal. Just stay out of the way and/or lend a helping hand. He’s got things to do and deadlines to meet, just like you. I’m not saying it’s okay for people to go David O’ Russell on people, but begin to grow some tough skin. Situations like this will help you deal with people in similar situations. Your feelings will get hurt at some point so take some advice from my speech teacher, Rocky Balboa:

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a mean and nasty place and it’ll beat you to your knees if you let it.”

Have Endless Energy (if possible)

Be the guy encouraging people on set at 5 a.m. If your energy level sucks, the whole atmosphere of the set comes right down with it. Spread joy instead of complaints. Another secret weapon on a set is saying, “thank you”. When I worked on Olan Rogers’ web series, “Pop Rocket,” I heard “thanks man” so many times from Olan and Brett Driver, the DP. It wasn’t even really necessary for them to say it, but it encouraged me to work even harder. “Thank you” is like an energy drink.

Remember, it’s the little things on set that go a long way. Treat everyone with respect, whether they’re the PA or the director. I’m sure these are things that you already know, but sometimes we need reminding. I hope this encourages you and energizes you to work like an animal on your next project.

Back to one!

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