This morning on the way to the Q Train I came across a film crew at the top of Fort Greene Park (specifically, in and around the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument*), filming what I later discovered to be a television show called “White Collar.” There were electrical cords running along the grass and down the hill and into block-long trucks parked on Washington Park. Cameras, light boxes and cranes scattered about the concrete and dirt. One actor wielding a pistol. Other actors rehearsing. Directors and assistant directors barking orders. And, of course, scores of other people on the crew who were mostly standing around and doing not much of anything. Which leads us to today’s prompt.
How it works is you’ll first choose a job on a film set. And remember, the list of occupations on a television or movie crew is vast. There are grips, propmasters, sound people, script people, dialogue coaches, camera people, electricians, makeup and hair people, a first-aid guy, production assistants, standins, stunt doubles, producers, lighting technicians, on-set dressers, set decorators, ADs, unit publicists, location managers, costume people, continuity people, script people, special-effects coordinators and technicians, LAFD cigarette discouragers, a representative of the production’s insurance underwriter, a variety of personal assistants and foctota and interns, and a substantial number of persons with no discernible function at all.**
Now, once you have your gaffer, electrician or AD, begin to write a piece from his or her POV (point of view) while a big Hollywood film (or small Indie, or anything in between) is being filmed. That is, get inside the head of your crew member. Tell about what he or she is thinking (being as specific as you can) while standing around and waiting (for minutes, hours, perhaps even days or weeks) for that next shot to be set up, blocked out and taken.
*Incidentally, this is the site of the New York Writers Coalition’s annual (and extremely inspiring) Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival, which I had the honor of attending last year and which I’m very much looking forward to this year.
**This sentence is not my own but courtesy of a brilliant essay (which should be a part of every journalism 101 reading list) entitled “David Lynch Keeps His Head,” first published in the September 1996 issue of Premiere, “in which novelist David Foster Wallace visits the set of David Lynch’s new movie [Lost Highway] and finds the director both grandly admirable and sort of nuts.”