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Teamwork

Since making Onwards - a short movie in Kaurismäki style we have been talking about making a next short movie. Last winter we were brainstorming and drafting ideas, and we decided to shoot the video material this summer. And I was bit worried about my constant problems with managing my timetables. All too often I plan something nice, and then things happen and I realize that I didn't have time to what I had wished and planned to do. I've been slowly trying to learn better ways to navigate my life. For example, we thought that it would take two or three days to shoot all the material needed - so I decided to reserve an entire week in my calendar for the project. It was this week. And what happened?

Some of my customers asked for a time for this week. And I thought 'OK, this is the week I've reserved for a three-day trip to Sami's. But most likely, I won't be leaving already on Monday. So, allright, I will book a few customers for Monday, telling them that if things change, then I've to cancel their times.' Then my son said that he will be coming here for this week, as he is working with a project at the nearby milling company. But the family running the mill was away for Monday, so my son came on Monday evening. That was good - I was working for Monday, and then when my son came here I was at home so we had unhurried social time after his work. My son said that seems like he can get the current sub-project ready on Thursday, so he will be leaving back to city on Thursday evening. So I thought 'This is fine! I can drive to Sami's on Thursday, and that will leave Friday, Saturday and half-a-Sunday for our video project'.

One of my neighbours, a farmer, called that they will be putting up hay on Thursday, if the weather allows. This summer we have had a lot of rainy days - which is not good for drying hay out on the field. But, finally, this week the weather forecast gave some hope, and the farmed decided to dry his luck. They need helping hands for collecting the hay-bales, and every summer I try to participate. I like the work, and I buy hay from that farm, so it is kind of a nice to get involved in the actual work. And this is something which depends on weather, you can't really plan the work according to the calendar, you just have to follow the weather and be ready when the time is right. So, no problem, I decided to delay my departure until we have all the hay-bales collected. Once again, the work was nice - we had a team of neighbours, people of different ages and backgrounds, all working together to get the thing done. I left my home at 11 pm on Thursday, and arrived at Sami's around 3 am on Friday.

Friday morning the weather was ideal for shooting footage outdoors. We had a lot of strong black coffee while discussing the plans for the day. Sami's partner Katri participated also, so we had a team of three. Based on our previous plans and experiments, Sami had drawn a story-board, with notes for camera-angles etc. Everything was ready, from the camera equipment to the small details of role-character costumes and props. So we packed our stuff and headed to the chosen location. It was about six hours of intensive work, shooting scene after scene. And the same again on Saturday. Some of our plans didn't work, and we had to re-plan on the fly. And some other changes were discussed, decided and improvised on the scene. After each day's shooting session Sami did a quick first-draft preview cut, so that we could check if we have missed something or if some scenes need to be done differently. Long days of work, but it was extremely nice, and in a way very refreshing and relaxing - you just concentrate at shooting one take at a time, not worrying about anything else.

The teamwork was great, too. Although Sami kind of a had the director's role, we have a rather non-hierarchical way of working. Everybody got to say their ideas, asking questions and giving suggestions. Many of the final details were decided on the site, through a collective creative process. Of course it isn't always easy to communicate visual ideas with words. And sometimes we forgot to eat or to have a break, which then leads to decreased skills in acting, communicating and decision-making. But I feel that we managed all these challenges fairly well, always finding a way to tackle problems before they grow too big to handle. Working in a small team means that everybody has to do several roles, from a technical assistant to actor, doing the stunt roles and taking care of props and make-up, and everything in-between the catering and continuity. And this is what I love in working with these wonderful friends of mine - we all just go with a DIY learning-by-doing attitude, so often extending the limits of what we know or what we can do, experimenting and learning new things, together.

After two days of intensive work we got all the footage shot. So that on Sunday we could chill out, having a sauna, discussing our feelings and thoughts about the project, and planning the next steps of the project. I think it will take couple of months until the video will be released, as there is still a lot of work to be done. The details of cutting, sound-effects, background music etc. Well, but I'll attach in-the-making-of pictures, giving a teaser glimpse of the location and the characters.

Sunday evening late I drove back home, feeling peaceful and happy. Once again, I know that 'managing my timetables' might sound somewhat formal and non-creative, kind of a social engineering of ones own life. But I see it quite the opposite. For example, starting with seven free days reserved in my calendar, I had enough unhurried time to be present and to enjoy the company of my own son. I could participate in the collective work of putting up hay, and doing the work in a peaceful state of mind without worrying about all the other things on some mental to-do list. And even though I drove to Sami's in the middle of the night, I still felt ready to rock - instead of being a burnt-out non-communicative grumpy mess of stress, I was more peaceful, open, listening, communicative and creative. Physical enough to do my own stunts. Non-stressed enough to patiently grind through several takes of a single scene. All these things, they can't be just organized nor engineered - yet one can take care of ones inner state, seeking to maintain favourable conditions so that the wild, creative, communicative spirit can grow strong, feeling accepted and present in the moment shared with others.

Sami checking the storyboard
Sami checking the storyboard
The camera operator
The camera operator
Sami as a camera assistant
Sami as a camera assistant
The team enjoying post-work beer
The team enjoying post-work beer
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Comments

That Onwards film is neat, and I am looking forward to this next one. :D

I wish I had some friends around here to collaborate with such things on, but I don't know anyone who is into making such things, hehe.

Making Onwards was great fun - and we also have been discussing about a sequel =) Making short-movies is very refreshing, it allows one to immerse into creative work without thinking too much why. We live in adult world where we have to be more or less effective, doing rational things - and there is nothing wrong with that - but that just needs some balance in doing artistic stuff purely for the fun of it.

Well, for me it takes about four hours of driving to get to Eastern Finland where Sami and Katri live. It is manageable, yes, but sometimes I find myself thinking that it would be nice if the distance was bit shorter =)

Ps. Hey Mr. Polecat, but maybe if you could find some fellas inspired to do something like this ! =)

Eagerly waiting for this next movie :D Keep up the great work :)

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