Thursday, 12 May 2011

Finding confidence

I was nervous heading out onto the film set yesterday. In order to prepare the paperwork an assistant director usually does, I pulled out my old templates that I created during university. Staring me in the face at the top of the document was the date of the last major productions I worked on: ten years ago. The number scared me more than I wanted to admit. All of a sudden my confidence shot out the window and I sat there, questioning myself on whether or not I could really do this.

I love being a stay-at-home mom. I love watching every moment of my children's lives as they grow in these precious and fleeting young years. I am forever grateful that we are in a financial position (which has included sacrifices) that I can stay home and not have to go outside the home to work for an income. But being away from the working world has also eroded some of the confidence I used to have. If I "fail" one day at home, my 1, 3, and 5 year olds probably aren't going to notice. They aren't going to get mad. They aren't going to fire me. They aren't going to hold me financially responsible. The weight and pressure of performance don't exist in the job of motherhood in the same way they do "out there." I think most of the lack of confidence really results from not wanting to have to be in a certain place at a certain time, and also perform to a required level.

So I was really unsure what would happen when I arrived on set. "Back in the day" I was probably the most sought-after assistant director in my year at university. I had a natural knack for the job, plus I had some industry experience that magnified my abilities. I never wrapped a day late. I had everything covered. I balanced the schedule with the director's artistic vision and the crew's talents. Back then, I knew I was good.

When I arrived, (half an hour late, due to Colin's surgery appointment) I grabbed my things and darted inside the house, and I never looked back. I fell right back into it as though I hadn't been on a 10-year hiatus. The crew is very thin, which meant I also had to fill in for wardrobe, props, set, continuity and camera assistant (doing the film log.) My brain was buzzing and moving in a hundred directions at once, but it was like I tapped back into a part of my brain that had been lying dormant for a while. (I hope it stays online this time - those same skills I use for AD work would really come in handy in motherhood!)

It took only a few takes to get a smooth rhythm going. I had forgotten the call protocol before the director calls action, but the first time the DOP called back "speed" (meaning, the camera is now running) I remembered. It took a minute to decide the best way to fill out the slate and camera log, but I figured it out. The last thing I had to figure out was how to balance my role as writer and AD with my history of directing; I needed to make sure I stepped back and let the director direct my script, even in the moments when he was departing from my vision.

In the end, I found my confidence again. I am heading back tonight and tomorrow for two more evening days, and next week for a full day, and I'm actually excited about it. It's been a long time since I have been excited about filmmaking. For many years I truly thought that was it for me, that I would very likely never get back into that industry. And while I have no desire yet to take it up as a career, it's nice to do these little projects here and there.

1 comment:

Mom said...

When I read this blog entry, it made me think of my driving confidence, or rather lack thereof right now. When I was in Canada, I never thought anything of getting into the car and driving - and in any level of traffic condition. Once we got to Australia, Dad did all the driving as I wasn't comfortable driving on the left hand side of the road. I did try to drive here, but had some difficulty judging the left hand side of the car and so I just 'gave up'. Once I started riding the scooter, it became clear that since I hadn't been driving, I didn't know the layout of the city of HB and so didn't feel comfortable riding around not knowing where I was going (it's amazing that even though I am in the car, I really don't take notice of the roads we take to get to places). Since that happened, I have been determined to get in the car and drive us to wherever we need to go to build up my confidence again. When I am driving, I do feel fine (although you can tell Colin that my hands are always at ten and two :-) he often reminded me to do that when he was driving with me in Canada :-) We are going out of town to a party this evening and I will drive on the way there - I truly believe that old saying that you just have to get back up on the horse again.