Monday, December 3, 2007

I'm the best producer who never was

I hate producing. I hate all the phone calls, and the amassing of resources and personnel, and the keeping track of money, and the constant panicking; it all seems so petty to me. Being a DP is much more relaxing; at the very least, it has a stress that actually energizes me, makes me happy, and keeps me feeling like I'm on the cutting edge of fabulousness. People may be yelling about losing daylight and the actor's threatening to walk and the generator having just died, but I pride myself on my Laser Death Ray Artist Vision, which cuts through irrationality, space, time, and egos, thus enabling me to Make Necessary Shit Happen.

It's not like I leave a wasteland of smoking ruins or anything, although that would be pretty cool. I merely state the obvious (which is usually half the battle -- people seem to like living in denial a lot), and then present what I consider the best strategy, with full explanations and zero smugness or pandering. It's stupidly simple, and feels very raw and immediate, even physical, like I'm bashing people's heads together with basic, implacable words of truth. It's like being able to tame a wild horse, or getting a two-year-old to take a nap. I've always been good at slicing through raging storms on set, and it makes me feel at least ten feet tall every time things are resolved to everybody's grudging satisfaction.

This is part of the reason I love being a DP. Even at its most disorganized, zero-communication, crew-with-no-lunch-after seven-hours, rock-bottom worst, it's still exhilarating when I finally get to move mountains an inch to the left. Yeehay.

Today, though, was a petty producer day, a day devoted to quibbling over minutiae, but I've still managed to emerge triumphant over the irritations, which kind of surprises me; this is not my usual, comfortable domain of logical head-bashing. I just got the rental houses EVS and Pro HD into a bidding war over equipment I'm renting for a no-budget shoot this weekend, and I managed to cut their rental day rates in half. IN HALF. And there was no arm-twisting, no veiled (or overt) threats, no yelling about having to speak to the manager. I just kept calling back and forth, being Li'l Miss Apologetic Cinematographer ("I'd hate to get you embroiled in a bidding war with each other, but..."), schmoozing like a lean, mean (okay, not mean), schmoozing machine, and I turned out to be The Ultimate Ace Producer. Who'd'a thunk?

It's very satisfying, but I still prefer to lurk behind a camera. It's harder to eat donuts on set when you're constantly freaking out at people on the phone and have to keep your mouth clear of donut debris, you know? Donuts first, panicking second. Let it never be said that I am a woman with a screwed up set of priorities.

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