An intern's diary


Today is a common day for everyone else but a very special day for me. I am Hector Quintero and this is my first week as an intern at BlackstoneFilmCompany.
I consider myself a freshman, as I just finished film school, making my first steps in the "real" life.

As I hear on my first day my new colleagues are busy preparing a shoot and just like that I found myself a few days later in preproduction of a movie for German cinema.

It’s the previous day to the shooting - loading day - and technicians keep on arriving to the unit. People from all over the world meet in Blackstone to arrange the whole shooting gear. Hovering around, still relaxed but steady, they move from here to there with their duties clear in their minds. What my colleague and casting director Macario had named “Rock and Roll” has just started.

I don´t know how, but there I am, in the mob, helping a little bit the key grip Jose, filling up his truck with all different kind of gadgets and tools mostly unknown for me.

The atmosphere is energetic, and we don´t stop fitting things in all the trucks and vans as If it was a puzzle, until the production manager calls me and introduces me to the sound engineer, Christian. I am astonished to find out that tomorrow I will be allowed to assist the sound department. It will be my first participation on a real set and moreover, I will be directly although only a small but a part of it. I am trying to keep cool and hide my happiness and excitement. Are they really sure this is the right task for me, the newbie from film school? 

The next day on location, after helping production preparing the last details to start shooting I assist the light department,too and take advantage of having so many professionals around by asking them everything I want to learn.

I have never seen something like this. At school, we only had a few cameras and some  tungsten spotlights, which we used to try and learn something about this field. But I really had no idea what film was all about or what it meant, what was hiding behind every take, every movement of the camera. It´s comparable to an iceberg: from the surface, we can only see a tiny part of its full size; same happens with cinema, you can hardly realize what is behind every shot we see later on the screen.

Then the long expected moment comes for a unit split and I move with a smaller crew to the second setting where I am officially allowed to hold the boom. Thanks to the friendly set manager Hans and his jokes I forget the nerves. Everything goes on as planned and eventually as we move to the first set, Tilman, the steady cam operator, lets me try his steady cam. The day couldn’t be much better. I am in cine heaven. 

If I thought shooting movies was challenging, it was because “I just hadn’t seen anything yet”. “This is what commercials are like”, Christos, the focus puller told me: “a world of perfect shots and at a frenetic speed.”

Back to business! As we have another shoot going on, a commercial shoot for German TV. The complete unit was moving again, just the way I like it. Full of dazzling faces, determined and delighted to carry out the new project. There was a lot of material moving from here to there, even a strange looking quad kitted out with big metal structures to support the platform where the DOP would sit. At the same time, people were buzzing through the office, checking out the last details and arranging the production.

The shooting began and we started with the quad scene. For a starter, some of the electricians, Sven and Ana had to run besides the camera with a spotlight while I pulled along the electric cable making sure it didn´t get tangled in anything, luckily Sven had given me some gloves.

The morning flew by, and we finished the two first locations, time to move on to the next. When I arrived with the production team gaffer and team had already finishes setting up the complete light, and I stayed with them sling them more questions. A lot of work was put behind every scene, and for one shot we even had to set up material into the pool.

The rest of the day rolled on smoothly as it started. Everyone looked happy, from the clients, production and the whole team. The shots were flowing one after another -it was all going all right.

Finally, it was time to wrap, which happened to meet a wonderful sunset that made all the time stop and stare for a while. That energetic workflow faded for a tiny moment. Hypnotized by those views, it was hard to get back to work, but, it was pack up time so all hands were needed! And, by the way, one of the electricians had to plunge back into the pool. Lucky guy!

Once we were finished, I was happy to see everything going so well, but sad at the same time to see it ending so promptly.
But my sadness shouldn't last that long as the next projects were already confirmed. 

One of my highlights on these shoots was when I was working on the new film with Penelope Cruz. As our production team enjoyed another commercial shoot, this time they only supplied equipment and technical crew for the movie. Of course I never really came close to Penelope and that wasn't the real highlight either. To make a long story short, I watched and studied how the set up a phoenix crane. After having seen the electric stuff, the panther dolly and camera equipment I was craving for being so close to the crane, too.

At the end they "just" made a top shot with the crane but for me it didn't matter. I was just happy to have learnt again something new. Basically I am Hector the sponge, absorbing as much knowledge as I can.

I also learnt that each shoot is a different world where, although is all based on the same ideology an action, each person, each item, each location…makes sure that there are never two identical projects. Maybe that is one of the best things on this job; that monotony doesn’t exist.

With that being said I am really looking forward to tomorrow, me next shoot, where I will be with the DIT.

Yours Hector