Everyday, I continue to be amazed and grateful to be in Berlin. I don’t know how my life would have turned out otherwise. I was quite depressed with the way my life was going, almost letting my fears win over my ambitions. I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t sad. I just felt meh. I don’t think I could have stayed at my old job any longer because it was so mindless and I think I stayed there wayyy too long. I probably would have ended up staying there forever, hating my life like everyone else there (who wanted to get out also but were trapped by life and reality), probably stuck in a marriage with kids, slogging my way through life. I thought it was wrong of me to want more for myself. I wanted to please everyone else and instead repressed myself. I think I may have exploded at some point and continued hating life. I don’t hate Toronto or Canada, I just don’t think I belonged in that life I had there. I’ve been thinking a lot since shoot started (even though my mind was melting) and I am so blessed to be here, doing what I love. There are lots of hurdles as well since everyone works differently and have different priorities on set which annoys me quite often. Maybe I’m just too serious. However, I am now able to distinguish who I can work with seriously and who I never want to work with outside of being forced to at school. It’s been amazing being able to see everyone’s progress and the different ways people think and direct. I still have lots to learn but that comes with time and experience. I don’t think I’ll ever reach the point where I won’t panic about whether my end product will be good or not. I am, however, proud of my work even though it’s still very amateurish.
I’ve noticed an exponential growth in my confidence since moving here. I’ve started to finally discover myself and reach a level of independence I’m happy with. I still have a long ways to go but I think it has been really good for me to be here, to learn to like myself and to have the freedom I desire. There is also a drawback to this because I’m starting to lose patience with people who have low self-esteem and keep trying to draw attention to themselves by saying stupid shit and people who are too full of themselves and keep bragging about it. I’m really noticing the age difference between myself and certain people. Come on guys, there’s more to life than relationships and partying (I mean, partying is quite fun once in awhile). I’m really really really lucky to have my roommate who is on the same wavelength as me (SO HAPPY that she likes to lineup early for concerts and rock out near the front. I never had a rock out buddy before). Life is so so so good right now (I hope I’m not jinxing it). I hope it continues on like this. I don’t want this life to end. I don’t want to go back to my old life. I hope this is a sign that I have finally found my niche.
Three more shooots left! I’m exciteddd. We’re going to try to finally catch Noah this weekend (yes I heard the bad reviews), go picnicking by the lake again and join some summer activities in the park. I heard Berlin is unbelievable in the summer (everyone is depressed in the winter) and can’t wait to partake in this! Hopefully we’ll be able to find a bigger flat as well with cheaper rent. I need to get a room where I have an actual window so that I don’t die in the summer months. Plus we want a nice long term place that we can decorate ourselves and make it homey. I have sort of decorated my current room but I am also holding back a bit since we might move.
We auditioned to be extras in The Hunger Games. It’s 55 Euros a day if we get the gig. Also, the casting agency tends to reuse the same people again for other productions so I’m hoping for the best!
I want to be like Robin. Who should NOT have ended with Ted by the way. I hate guys like Ted urgh. She should have ended up alone because Robin doesn’t settle. Robin is confident in herself and her decisions and she’s not afraid to be alone (unlike Ted). They ruined her character. I’m not bitter about the ending at all. Nope.
I have finished filming my short! The day before my shoot, I went to school to help my classmate drop off equipment (because they shot in my apartment) and to pick up my equipment. I had to lug a giant bag full of props and kitchen things. There was also a class with our tutors but I already told the school my DOP and I couldn’t make it because I needed the day to set up everything (everyone else had a day to prepare as well) and the school was fine with it but the tutors got really pissy about it. So I ended up staying for half an hour in which I was told that I had wayyy too many scenes and shots and that there’s no way in hell I would get everything I wanted and that I should start removing things. I was already panicking because of all the things I needed to prepare but that really freaked me out. Nonetheless, he let my DOP and I go and we had to lug a shit ton of equipment to his apartment (5 flights of stairs and 4 trips up and down). It was hell. My DOP sneakily treated me to lunch which was really sweet of him because he wanted to lessen my stress level a bit. We then ran to pick up a fig rig. I sent my gaffer to pickup my cupcakes and my roommate (who volunteered to run for me on the second shoot day) to pickup some potted flowers. I then had to set dress and picked up 5 bags of groceries for the two days to feed everyone. Can I just express my sadness at how much money I had to spend? It took awhile for us to set up some basic lighting and all the equipment so that we were ready to rock ‘n’ roll the next day.
Before I delve into my shoot, I would like to reflect on the other 2 shoots that I was part of after Karli’s disorganized shoot. Karli flew off to Holland for a break so Simon ended up losing his sound guy. Kaspar got bumped to that position and I was pulled into the shoot as continuity. However, everyone on that shoot was lazy and fooling around so I ended up doing pretty much everything (except lights because I have no idea… and we brought in some second years to help with that). Everyone kept complimenting me on being so efficient but I would rather people take that as a cue to DO THEIR JOBS. Even the actors were becoming annoyed and annoying. There was huge drama as well because Kyle did pretty much nothing (he was lighting) and was being pissy about everything and acting as if the world wronged him. However, we got everything done and it was a great learning experience. I just wished people would work hard on other people’s films because we should be a team and we should treat everyone’s projects with importance.
Then the day after that shoot, I filled in as a runner for another classmate’s shoot because she was shooting in my apartment and I figured I might as well help out a bit. It was supposed to start at 11am but she called us in tears and said that her actress quit and wrote a scathing email to her about how it wasn’t professional enough and that the quality was not up to her standards (it’s a student film, what do you expect?). She had to push the shoot back until 2:30pm so that she could re-write the ending. This left everyone else in a panic because we became worried that our actors would quit. The rest of the shoot went really quickly.
On to my shoot. I felt that I could have been better at directing but I’m still not really sure of how to push actors. It’s something that I’m still working on but I think all-in-all I did decently. I got ALL the shots I wanted and even finished extremely early. I had added an extra hour to the first day because I was really worried about one of the big scenes but we managed to finish half an hour early. On the second day we finished over 3 hours early. Though I realized I forgot to add in an extra shot that I wanted to do for transitional purposes. Admittedly, I didn’t focus on lighting as much as I probably should because my lighting person didn’t really know what she was doing and I’m terrible at lighting. Everyone else kept yelling their suggestions about it at me so that was a bit annoying. I felt very calm and detached during my shoot, I still don’t know if that is a good or bad thing… Also, Kaspar has been getting worse and worse with his talking on each shoot. He begins talking as soon as he walks in til the end of the shoot which is really annoying because it delays everything exponentially. Every time I told him to shut up he would talk back to me which eats up more time. I think someone needs to talk to him about that because it’s becoming a problem on sets. It’s also annoying because my crew was full of immature boys (except for my hardworking DOP) and they all found my lead actress to be very attractive (which I was afraid of) so they spent a lot of time chatting her up. Also I had several food scenes so they would freak out over the food as if they’ve never seen the food before which is extremely annoying because they would keep hounding me on whether they could have it after or not after EVERY TAKE. In the birthday scene, I had cupcakes brought it and they acted as if they have never seen cupcakes before. One of them kept screaming at my extra to pretend to eat hers so he could have it after the shoot and then freaking out WHILE we were filming because she kept taking big bites. It was so annoying and I keep telling them to shut up and chill out. Come on guys, it’s a fucking cupcake. Sometimes I feel like I’m working with little kids. It’s so good to come home and unwind with my cats (yep, crazy cat lady in da house).
All in all, it was a great experience! I can’t wait for the rest of the shoots and the final products. I have realized that I love love love being on set. I would love to be able to move from city to city for 3 months at a time just being on different sets.
PS: I have discovered that, students who graduate from a German school are able to stay another 18 months after graduation to find a job! Also, if I get a job that pays at least 37,000 euros a year, I can get a visa for 4 years! I now know what to aim for. But we’ll see where I end up in a year since I like moving around a lot. I might end up falling in love with another city.
We finished our first shoot of the module today. It was very disorganized because the Director did not send us anything until the day before the shoot. We all had no idea about the script because it was in German and he didn’t send it to us so we shot blind. I managed to fulfill my role as 1st AD and it took effort to keep everyone in line because the boys had the tendency of fooling around too much. We went over by two hours yesterday and one hour today. Even with the lack of organization, I still had loads of fun. I love being on set and I really think this is what I want to do long term. It feels so good to finally find what I want to do with my life. My next shoot is this weekend so I’m excited for that. It’s interesting to see how everyone works. I think I will have to be super strict on my shoot to keep everyone focussed and to keep the proper mood. Eight more shoots to go! Unless more people ask me to help out on their shoots on my non-shooting days.
I’m really glad to finally be warm again though. My hands are still swollen from being out in the cold for so long. It was really annoying shooting outside because people keep ruining our shots on purpose. There were tons of assholes who screamed out of their car windows or honked their horns. There were also loads of people trying to be on camera so they would walk in and pose or make stupid hand gestures. I’m glad that I only have two outdoor scenes and that they’re going to be in less congested areas. I also felt super sick all day because they kept smoking on the shoot and there was no fresh hair. I thought I was going to pass out from the killer migraine that I got.
Okay, so I’ve been stressing over casting for the past few weeks. Today, I cast the final character in my film! I’m so glad that is over with. Casting is a nightmare because I don’t like rejecting people and there are so many good actors.
Today we shot our commercial for a competition which I hope we win! There’s two more competitions that we’re thinking of entering together. It’s so great that we’re finally planning projects together. The group I originally wanted to shoot with are always busy so nothing comes out of it. However, people that I did not expect to do projects with are turning out to be very dependable people. They’re all willing to support me in my projects (I have a ton of ideas that I want to bring to life) so hopefully in the next few months, I’ll have more material to build a showreel from. I am so excited!
I’m trying to fit as many projects in as possible. I have offered my time to some of my classmates who are shooting on days that I’m free. I mean, it would be nice to have some rest days but it is better to have more experience and to be busy all the time. I also applied to crew for a short film production for another school so hopefully I get a reply for that. I need to stop doubting myself and my abilities because that stops me from gaining more experience. Reinhard also has several ideas to shoot in Austria and he already decided that I’ll be on his crew no matter what so that’s wonderful! I have also told his friend Ute that I am willing to crew for her if she ever needs. She seemed really keen on me being her DOP so I’m crossing my fingers for everything to work out. We also have a bunch of photoshoot ideas so that will be fun too!
I’m finally settling into my life here. I think I have found my place, my passion, my lifelong goal. I really hope that I’ll be able to find a job here after I finish school because that would be amazing. The vibe here is perfect for filmmaking and for trying out different ideas. I’m also slowly building connections here so it will be a little bit easier to get projects off the ground I think.
Currently, I’m trying to find a job because with my current visa, I can work a set amount of days. I would like to have some extra money to make life a bit easier. It’s always nice to have some extra cash lying around especially since we have to fund our own films. Hopefully we’ll win a few competitions and get some money from that!
We may be getting a second cat. I know. We’re crazy. The thing is, we tried to adopt him before but someone got to him first. He was abandoned by his previous family and had a sad history. He just got abandoned by his new family so the people who took him back messaged us to see if we would be willing to take him in. We shall see what happens. We should also start looking into a bigger apartment but I really love my current area…
Huzzah! I have succeeded in getting a long term visa! It was an experience and a half trying to get it but in the end they gave me one that lasts until October 2015 which is much longer than I expected! This means that I have half a year to find a job after I finish school before my visa expires! I would love to be able to move to Berlin long-term (I’m thinking at least 5 years).
I spent the weekend shooting some scenes for one of my classmates, Reinhard (I did sound). It was really cool and I felt like I was part of a real production because he paid for our flights and we stayed at his place and had catering. We also shot at really beautiful locations! I’m actually not part of his crew but he wanted me there because apparently I make him feel calmer and less nervous. Also the night before the shoot, he nearly had nervous breakdown and so Rusanna and I spent a lot of time calming him down. Everything went well during the next two days of shooting. Although, we did have a bit of sound problems during the first day, but everything else went smoothly.
I cannot get over how beautiful this country is. I would love to retire here.
Also Reinhard and Norbert (his friend of over 30 years) have decided that they’re going to find me a nice German guy to marry so I can stay here forever. I swear, everyone here is trying to marry me off. I already told them I’ll marry my roommate if it comes down to that since she’s willing AND we know each other so well.
Besides that, Reinhard is intent on having me on his crew for his documentary project (which is the module after our current one) which means, MORE AUSTRIA FOR ME! He’s thinking of documenting a hunter in the mountains which will be very interesting. I’m already planning my next break to be in Austria so we might even be able to shoot it then! He wants me to be his DOP which I would be very excited to do. I also met another one of his friends who lives in Vienna. She has several film ideas and I already volunteered to be on her crew if I have the time. I would love to shoot in Vienna!
I’m still slogging through preparations for my own shoot. I’m not enjoying having to spend so much money on my shoot but I also really want it to turn out well. Casting is the worst part but I only have to cast the brother now. I’m crossing my fingers for the cast to be all set by the end of this week. We officially start shooting on Tuesday and I’ll be 1st AD on the shoot. However, Karli (the Director) has not sent us ANYTHING yet so I think I’m going to have a tough job being his 1st AD. The last time I was in a meeting with him, he wasn’t even finished his script. We shall see how it goes.
This Thursday we are shooting a commercial for a contest. Hopefully everything goes well!
Also, my epic fail during the trip.