In September I left Belgium, that little speck between Germany and France, to work as a producer on a short film entitled Almost Midnight with my childhood friend Andres in Venezuela. This little sentence hides a lot of adventures and writing material in itself. What I want to talk about here though is that the scope of these words, how they make me feel, and the reality of the work are three very different things.
My nostalgia about missing my first winter in Belgium, a snowy one at that, fades against the Venezuelan sun and nature. The house-sized mango trees hide nests of little blue and yellow birds who only travel in pairs. Each evening the parrots loudly flock together in the palm trees. Near the lamps there are little geckos hidden, for some reason we’ve come to name them Timothies. When we try to catch one, it quickly scuttles away under the lamp. Trying to catch one has become a daily little habit, a silly activity after a day of hard and serious work.
Considering the work, my credentials at first seem rather poor. Everything I learned about producing movies, I learned here in Venezuela working in the field, on an actual project. I learned quickly. What do you have to do in order to make a movie? It’s not very hard! You assemble a budget, crew, a cast, gather equipment, check out locations,… the list of tasks is long but not insurmountable. With each step you come closer to the realization of your dream project. Having that passion in your team helps you to work hard on each individual task. The same passion keeps my homesickness far at bay.
So far, being a producer in a tropical country sure sounds like an easygoing life, but the reality is – as you may have imagined – very different. We are nearing the end of preproduction now. The list of tasks turned out to be much more than a list of tasks. Each little sentence in our neat file turned out to be a cultural, economic and organizational challenge. How we finished all of these tasks is what I want to share with you in this series of posts. I want to talk about some new terminology we coined, such as rererereconfirming. I want to share some tactics we use to work with no budget. By no budget I don’t mean 100 USD, even not 20USD, but the worthless 6 bf that you need to keep to pay for the bus home. I want to share various tips on how to deal with people, including bureaucrats, love relations in the team, sabotage and jealousy! We had the entire range of them.
More importantly however, I want to share how the difficulties along the road don’t get your spirit down and make you look at each little V in front of a task, as an accomplishment. It’s a little mark you earned. Each one of those brings you one step closer to realizing the creative vision you had when you started out, and you keep clinging to, even desperately and sometimes beyond obvious reason. This is what makes the work worth every inch of trouble you are painstakingly going through.