I've been a pro writer for close on 10 years now. I've been on set about 6 times. See, my view was that I had no interest in the nuts and bolts of film making. If anything, getting too close to it would destroy the magic - I thought. So I avoided it. Plus once you are on set, you are the proverbial spare prick at a whore's wedding.
Then I was on the set of Bones. Here's the story. A mate of mine got an emergency call to drive an action vehicle on a set the next day. No idea where what or when, that's the way it works. But he was off to France on holiday that day. This is 8 0'clock the night before.
He calls me. Am I free? Would I fill in? Good scoff and I might get to drive a Ferrari.
Well bearing in mind my lack of 'set' time and guilt over the same I said yes. It was then I found out I had to pick up a vehicle in Windsor at 6.am. I tipped up at the place to find an ocean of mercs and BMW's, all top of the range stuff. Then picked up the paperwork and found that I was on the set of Bones in central London. Being an avid reader of Will Dixon's blog this more than made up for my recent discovery of two 5am's in one day.
It more than made up for the fact that the mercs and BMW's were for Midsommer Murders and that I was driving a mortuary van.
So there I was on set. And if you are a big fan of standing around doing nothing for hours at a time it was brilliant. I think they shot maybe 3 minutes worth at that location and for most there, that ran from 6am to 8pm. A huge logistical achievement, maybe 50 people at least, but nonetheless, of no interest to me whatsoever. I did get to buttonhole Hart Hanson, just to pass on my regards to Will. I know enough to know the last thing he wants is to be buttonholed for anything more than 10 seconds. He was very good about it btw. And I even had a word with David Borealez [sic?] Nice to see a star over 5'6. We were both lounging against my mortuary van and it seemed rude not to say something. Spoke to Michael Brandon too. Another nice guy.
But did I learn anything? Not really. Only that my original misgivings about being on set were correct. I don't want to know how difficult, or how costly or how complicated it is to film what I write. I want people to find a way to do it. Okay the experience was fun and different, but something I'll shut out from my writer's mindset. No, I'm not going to write about 300 camels coming over Tower Bridge but equally I'm not going to let logistics sway me too much at the writing stage.
I think I'll keep my distance. Deep down, I'm the audience. I don't want to know how the fairy dust gets there. It might stop me from being the audience. And that's something that worries me. When I'm writing a script I write story and character. I'm immersed in that. I don't want to be thinking 'oh wow, that's 50 people for one scene, maybe I can leave that out.'
I'd rather write it and leave it for others to cut. I wouldn't write it if I didn't think it was worthwhile. Others involved in production may have a more objective view. And that's fine. Me? I'll concentrate on inventing the fairy dust, the sprinkling I'll leave to others.
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4 years ago