"This is not a job. It’s a lifestyle." (Faris Dobraca)
I was thinking about this particular quote from Faris, the focus puller from the set, as I got back to my Sarajevo home way past midnight, just in time to get ready, pack and 6 hours later catch a (few) flight(s) back to Budapest.
For the last 10 days, I have had the opportunity of being part of the Sarajevo City of Film team, which is part of the industry section from Sarajevo Film Festival. Sarajevo City of Film funds short film projects on a micro budget, with the aim not only of encouraging cooperation between the different South-Eastern European countries but also to showcase the young film talents from the region. The three selected this year were: Morning Prayers (Greece/Serbia), Holiday at the Seaside (Hungary/Romania) and MY! MY! MY Little Room! (Croatia). Different crew, different nationalities, different stories but the common denominator is their participation a the Sarajevo Talent Campus.
I was assisting both the costume and set department and I tried to make myself as useful as possible. I must admit my curiosity got the better of me at times because I found myself asking all sorts of questions to whoever happened to be standing next to me. So I got some great insights from actors, producers, assistant directors, costume designers…the list goes on. While their roles were very different, their common ground was not only making these three short movies happen but that they seemed so passionate about what they do. There is a really easy way to find out if someone enjoys what they are doing. Get them them to talk about it. If they start coming alive, that’s a tale-tell sign of it. As this quote by E.M. Forster, the English novelist so aptly puts it: “One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.” And here I was amongst a whole group of passionate people! For someone who is not quite sure what they are passionate about, this is like a 24-hour, ‘all you can eat’ candy store which offers home delivery. Free of charge. Because you have to really love this line of work. Let’s face it. The hours are long, the work is intense and they pay is sometimes good, sometimes bad.
While my film set experience was up to this point rather limited (or non-existant as some might say), I soon started drawing parallels between my previous experiences and working on a set. Just like having a startup business, you work long hours, sleep little but the people love what they do. Just like in a design thinking project, you create a POW (sets) for your personas (characters) which deeply reflect and encompasses their personalities. Just like organizing an event, you need to make sure that all the bits and pieces are ready when it’s show time.
And while this experience was educational on many levels, the most important lesson, once again, as always, is the importance of team work. Coming from a business/ marketing and design thinking background, team work for me has been and always will be the most important element when it comes to achieving a goal together. This is why it is so crucial that you treat the people you work with as your biggest assets and with a lot of respect, regardless of what industry you are in. Film, startups, fortune 500, it doesn’t matter. Because they are the ones who will stay after-hours to work with you. Of course, friction is unavoidable and arguments always surface. And that’s normal. Because if you find yourself in a room where everyone always agrees with you then you have to take a look around because there is a big problem. The question always is how you deal with these situations and how to bring out the best of it.
I have so many funny memories from all these shoots, like watching Amila and Neira from costume department fight over who gets to cut the fur of the cute rat they were making out of earmuffs, or decorating Sloga Club’s bathroom with wet towels and beer bottles while writing with markers on the wall to make it look filthy, or putting back someone’s apartment into the pre-shooting state which was simply a miracle. And I finally managed to have the B/C/S word: ODMAH! (Now!) being engraved into my memory thanks to it being repeatedly shouted again and again.
I would like to finish off this post by saying thank you to everyone on the team. They were all really patient and super nice to me and I learned a lot from them. And special thanks to my departments, Amila, Neira, Dragan and Guma. It was a real pleasure working with you all, you are all such professionals and always smiling, I want you all on my next projects, whatever that may be. And who knows? Maybe I am going to choose a lifestyle over a job as well.