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Dear Friends,

Today, I'm heading up to Northern California to work as a 2nd Unit Director on a straight-to-video family movie. It's going to be one week of preparation and three weeks of shooting in one damn hot city - all for very little pay.

The "why" is probably obvious by now. I've been making careful moves toward doing more directing, toward the eventual goal of directing some of my own stuff. This shoot, which is going to be on Digital Video (DV), is going to be my most extensive exposure to it yet. The DP (director of photography) is probably going to think I'm stalking him. In fact, what I'm really going to be doing is learning as much as I possibly can about the camera being used, since I'm planning on buying one myself.

I managed to get this job by weaseling my way in with the proven skills that I have - producing and writing - and a few below-the-radar (i.e., uncredited and underpaid) directing projects. In this case, the producing and writing side have become the leverage to get me the other duties.

I have veteran writer friends who have done the same thing - one writer was offered a series job he didn't want, so he just gave back a crazy counteroffer, which asked for a directing gig for himself, even though he never directed. He was stunned when the offer was accepted, and is due to shoot his episode next year. Of course, it'll be a few years before I earn that kind of leverage.

So, off I go - a student again. Hell, a student always. I'll try to report back week in and week out, though I can't promise that I'll hit every Tuesday with an insightful and in-depth column. I'll probably be busy following the DP around.

Back to school,



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