Filmmaking, Student Filmmaking, Behind The Scenes

The Art of Balance

Film student life demands balance. Especially if you're shooting with a Movi, but that's a whole other whatever. I'm often asked, "How do you keep up with all of your other classes while investing so much time and energy into projects?"

The honest answer is, "I don't." There are a few who are especially gifted with a choleric temperament that permits them to somehow achieve straight A's while working three jobs, an internship, and working on projects simultaneously. If I had the funds, I'd invest in a private detective to locate the facility that assembles these androids. That's right, androids. You best be paranoid–I know the truth. 

Unfortunately I'm no android, but I may be paranoid. Well, not as paranoid as years past. It's taken a while to develop a to-do list system, and even longer to develop the "saying NO" muscles. I'm nowhere near a master in either discipline, but I'm getting better. 

I've been using Wunderlist for years. If you're not using, do yourself a favor and use it. It's a powerful to-do list app made by Germans. They don't ess around when it comes to getting things done. 

My system generally looks like this: I try to always keep a moleskine-esque booklet with me (and a pen), and when I think of things that I need to do, I write it down. This habit was developed in me when I interned as an assistant music recording engineer for a band in Seattle years ago. On my first day, my supervisor jumped immediately into the technical training. I whipped out my phone in typical millennial fashion, an action for which I was severely berated. 

My supervisor explained that I was required to carry a physical notebook and pen because (according to something he probably read online) the act of physically writing something down helps with information retention, which is means more proficiency and speed. Perhaps it's just a placebo effect, but I do feel that I remember things better if I write them down in my notebook first, and then type it into a note on my computer/phone later. I've also noticed that writing something on paper is infinitely superior when it comes to social interaction. Even if I sincerely am typing up something somebody is saying to me, the nonverbal message I'm sending them is a negative, disruptive one. The nonverbal messages communicated are worlds apart: writing on paper says, "I care about what you have to say." Typing up on my iPhone says, "Hey I don't care what you're saying 'cause I gotta double tap a latte picture."

With a project of the scope of Aventura, there are countless tasks that need to get done. The producers spent a good part of a production meeting thinking of every thing imaginable that will need to take place in pre/pro/post for this film and assigned those things to different people. Additionally, we all are on a shared Wunderlist list, which allows us to assign tasks to different people, and much more. Our AP Anyssa's main job is going through the Wunderlist and making sure people are making progress on their assigned tasks.

She just joined the team about a week ago and productivity seems to have skyrocketed. 

Balance is more than merely knowing all the things you need to do; it's getting them done. I'm learning more and more that productivity is about realistic compromise and following through on decisions.

I've been learning through mistakes. Last night / today is a prime example.

I'm taking a wildly fascinating advanced studies class called, "War & Peace in the Old Testament." We have the first draft due of a seven page paper. It can't be turned in late and has to be a complete, finished paper. We got to choose a topic that pertains to material we've been learning in class and I decided to go for "Early Church Fathers' Reaction & Interpretation of Violent Passages in the Old Testament." My professor said that the singular book he could think of that would be relevant to that conversation was only available in German. 

Now, I've spent about a year in Germany. I dated a girl from Germany for a while and tried to pick up some of the language. To say that my German is at a "conversational" level (as I often claim it is) is only true if you include non-verbal communication (i.e. hand gestures, drawings, and looking up words on Google Translator). Franklin D. Roosevelt was probably a better tap dancer than I am a German speaker.

Naturally, I was inclined to accept the challenge. I figured I'd be able to ascertain the "gist" of different paragraphs and lookup words I don't know online. As soon as I typed in the word "Hinführung" and saw that translates as "Introduction," I realized that I had made a grave error. I had no business reading an intellectually complex theological German book. 

Nonetheless, I endured through the night, slowly advancing in my "gist gathering". Around 4am, I had a decent document with abstractions (guesses) of what the text spoke to the subject. A dear friend in Germany Skyped with me around 4:30am and helped to confirm that my guesses were within the thirty mile zone of what the author is communicating. 

The paper has been completed and turned in online. Now, back to fleshing out talking points for today's production meetings. 


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