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A Weekend In “The Mailroom” (& Not At Comic Con)

ReKon Intern

August 4, 2014

I mean, working as a novice 1st Assistant Director on a weekend project, with a crew I had never met, while my higher-ups were at Comic Con…

…What could have possibly gone wrong?

Over the weekend, the ReKon Team (and subsequently me) lend a helping hand on new webseries. The Mailroom follows the inner workings of a casting office and its assistants. After spending two weeks prepping for the first leg of the shoot — being guided through the process of scheduling and call sheets while eating only an appropriate amount of dark See’s candy–  I was ready to turn the ReKon Offices into a set!

My name is Katie, I’m an intern at ReKon Productions. I’m here to tell you my story about navigating a new production experience, and to disclose a few lessons I learned along the way.

Both days began as a series of warm, sunny mornings, as do most mornings here in Los Angeles (Come On Florida! It rains approximately once a month here, a solid 1/30th of your precipitation rate, way to steal the sunshine state title). Well, technically, the sun hadn’t made it’s grand debut quite yet- due to the fact that wake-up time was 6AM. Yes, yes, you guessed it folks! Because of traffic on the 10! Due to a combination of nerves, and an understanding of Los Angeles’s pressing overpopulation issue and despite the fact of an 8AM call time, I arrived to set at 7 AM.

  • Lesson 1- Be prepared, be very, very over prepared.

For one of the first times in recent history, I got lucky. Our director, Sarah, arrived right on time; she was a patient, warm beam of hope there to thaw my first-day cold feet. In my opinion, one of the most interesting things about working on set is observing the way different directors approach their work. Some take a step back, letting each department fend for themselves. Others engross themselves in a particular element of the process, such as focusing their energy on conveying what they want from talent. On this day, it was clear that a large part of Sarah’s vision lay in the way camera movements created her world. From this alone it was clear that her work as a DP greatly influenced her method of directing. Our crew immediately fed off of her drive, allowing it to motivate them throughout the weekend. The smoothness of the shoot could be attributed to ‘the captain’s’ patience, for unlike many directors, Sarah took time with each individual between takes to encourage each member of her team in order to yield the best results possible.

  • Lesson 2- Be open and communicative with your coworkers.

When on set, you are working with many people who interpret the script differently and therefore expect different things from the same production. Because of this, miscommunications happen frequently. In the same vein, be prepared to learn. Due to the diverse experiences crew members have had, every person you meet can teach you something you don’t know.

Naturally, things went wrong. From insufferable power outages, to one of our PA’s getting into a verbal altercation with the El Pollo Loco cashier about missing queso, to food being continuously flung– resulting in me launching myself at talent while the camera was rolling. But that’s the beauty and burden of working on productions. Anything that can go wrong, usually does. Welcome to the most unglamorous, glamorous industry in existence. There are always new problems to solve, new things to experience. Overall, weekend 1 of The Mailroom went well. I learned many valuable lessons, and look forward to learning even more during weekend 2.

  • Lesson 3- Enjoy yourself.

The going will definitely get tough, but welcome to the single most versatile industry in the world.

written by Katie Barriera

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