Lessons Learned On Set

by Ian Doescher

 

Last week, we welcomed a client and an actor to Portland as several Pivoteers and I coordinated the filming of commercial spots to be used over the next six months. Our task was immense: we filmed dozens of commercials–15, 30 and 60 seconds in length–many of them with scripts that were similar and/or still fluctuating.

In four days of filming, we accomplished what could have taken weeks or months to do. I’m not saying this to pat us on the back, but, rather, to share some of the things that helped us get through. Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Careful planning. A week of filming, particularly an ambitious week like ours, does not happen without weeks or months of careful planning. We have been working on this project since November, writing and scheduling and planning diligently in preparation for the all-important four days last week. The planning paid off, because so much of the hard work and thought had already been done before the first second of video was captured.
  2. Deep breaths. It turns out that reading scripts and hearing them spoken aloud by an actor are two very different things. Small edits needed to be made, which could have frustrated all of us (especially the actor). Instead, cool heads prevailed and, with a sense of collegiality, all of us took the edits in stride. That doesn’t mean we never got a little frustrated, but none of us got angry and the positive spirit on set never flagged.
  3. Compromise. There were things the other Pivoteers and I thought were best, and those weren’t always what the client thought was best. That’s not to say there were huge disagreements, because there weren’t. Most of the groundwork had been laid before they arrived in Portland. Still, when disagreements arose, all of us were more interested in seeing good work done and seeing the fruits of our labor than we were in sticking to our guns. Compromise was the name of the game, which helped immensely.
  4. Laughter. You knew this was going to make the list, right? We had a fantastic time together last week. Even in the face of a difficult task, there was a lot of laughter, sharing good stories, poking fun at each other, and singing (lots of singing). Keeping the atmosphere light–while maintaining our productivity–was essential. The relationships among actor and client and agency never took a backseat to the work we were doing.

Sometimes, we are faced with challenges at work that seem insurmountable. Our own personal Everests. I wasn’t sure how last week would go; I wasn’t sure if we could do it. In the end, not only did we accomplish what we set out to do, but everyone left with a sense of excitement, joy, and pride for what we had done together. Careful planning, deep breaths, compromise and laughter helped pave the way. What are your success stories about hard work done well?

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