A Year Into 1sting
Updated: Jan 17
In December 2020 I found myself heading to Dorset to 1st a spec commercial for Kodak with some of the most exciting young filmmakers I have ever met. Prior to this I had been working within the commercial industry as a runner, 3rd AD and junior 2nd. I was the 1st AD on the occasional music video where I'd at times feel out of my depth however this weekend changed everything.
We travelled round Dorset for two days filming a beautiful story following the extremely talented Stella Stocker reconnecting with her past. Shooting on location exclusively on film proved a challenge but I ran it well and what we achieved was remarkable. Becoming a 1st AD was always the goal but this project really opened my eyes to how it was actually tangible right now. I had learnt under some of the best 1st ADs in the game and I was finally ready to apply my skillset practically.
Following this weekend I made every effort to pursue 1sting and promote myself as someone that can be relied on to secure a shoot efficiently. The biggest difficulty was marketing myself in my new role as I was fresh and eager but lacking experience. The classic catch 22. I messaged the right people, pulled a few favours and had some good luck leading to more and more shoots as a 1st. Like facing any new challenge there would be mistakes along the way but I'd work to overcome them, learn and find new approaches to different situations developing further into my 1st AD brain. I designed a schedule that works best for me that is now considered by many to be the sexiest schedule in music videos (Totally not hyperbole).
In the July I decided to stop my other pursuits and solely focus on 1sting. It was instantly busy and I found myself constantly working, struggling to think about anything other than shooting. Before I would come onto a job as part of a team, do the job and leave. Now I would be planning for shoots while shooting other videos. I would examine treatments and organise them into schedules late into the night. I'd dream about shooting and occasionally wake up with epiphany's about more efficient ways of shooting. I'd build a team around the job, have zoom meetings with key people and prep days in offices. I basically dived into a whole new world. I was now a HOD and there was a lot more responsibility on my shoulders. It was exhilarating.
I shot some amazing videos last year and genuinely believe I played an instrumental role in the overall quality of those projects. I have so much confidence in my own abilities and work to bring the best out of the team in the collaborative process of making a film. I design how we'll shoot as effectively as possible and execute that vision extremely well. My approach is calm and with respect for the people around me but I have a voice and know how to use it. Achieving what the director seeks to make within budget provides such a rush as I know I led the team to success. I'm a very good 1st AD and I love doing it.
I'm thankful for this Christmas break as it has given me time to reflect on such an influential year. I really look forward to continuing to work hard in 2022 and am excited to see what will come.
See you all on the next one!