During a recent prep, the best executive producer I’ve ever worked with made the simplest, most telling of statements:

            “Always look for the problems that’re avoiding you.”

            Anyone can get a grip on the obvious challenges of the job.  What separates the players from the pretenders is their ability to anticipate the unforeseen, obscure and uncommon obstacles that’re waiting to cause havoc.  Some people do this instinctively; others need to learn it the hard way.

            My advice to students and aspiring cinematographers is to make this thinking part of your every day carry.  It’ll increase your value to whatever production you might be working on and speed you miles ahead of your obstinate, slower-witted competitors.

            As an added bonus, it also has its applications in daily life…


2 thoughts on “WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT…?”

  1. Great advice! Sometimes when planning a big shot, it can be some little thing that trips you up. I had to do some complicated moving shot on a tiny specialty camera that did not have the latitude of an Alexa, so spent some time on location at night selectively putting ND gel on some car headlights and tail lights, only to have a take where the camera then craned up at the end with an LED traffic light big in the foreground, color-clipped, with no fast way to reach and ND-gel it. I should have thought of that earlier when I had lifts in the street rigging lights to lampposts.

    A producer once told me another good bit of advice: “If everything is important then nothing is important” — i.e. pick your battles and prioritize.

  2. My father taught me the same thing. He used to teach me and playing chess with me, because he always said that you need to approach life like a chess game; if you see one move ahead, you are always on defense. The best players are the ones that see 5, 10, 15 moved ahead, the ones that anticipate the problem and adjust their plans before the issue arises.
    It’s very true that this is crucial in filmmaking; you can train anyone to push a button to record, but the difference is between the ones who anticipate and fix problems and the ones that let the problems stop them.

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