With post-production coming to a close on “GIFT,” I thought it’d be appropriate to share some crew member perspective on this project before it sets off for the festival circuit.
First, a smidge-bit of history on my joining the project. When I was brand new to Georgia last summer, I started out pouring my time into finding crew jobs. I wanted to make it here in Atlanta as a full-time freelancer, but had no contacts, and really no good place to start.
During my search, I crossed paths with Michael Curtis, the director of “GIFT.” Looking through his past work, it was clear that he valued quality in filmmaking. I wanted to be a part of what he was doing. After emailing with him, I soon discovered his Filmstigator project. As I read over the blog and FAQ, I was certain that I was talking with someone who had a true passion for film, something that I had not seen much of since my time in film school.
When Michael offered me the chance to work on his indie film project “GIFT,” I jumped at the opportunity. I knew Michael could do great work, so I couldn’t wait to hop into a full production with a non-profit film organization.
I must say, my first day on set was an interesting one. Within the first two hours of loading out equipment and setting up lights, there was an unexpected run-in with a stealthily-burrowed wasp nest. Stings were delivered, equipment was left for dead amongst the ferocious cloud of yellow-jackets, and grown men were sent running and screaming like little children. We were off to a rough start.
But in my first hours of pandemonium on a multi-day shoot, I noticed something right away. This crew stood strong in the face of adversity and pulled themselves together in full force. Luckily, no one had a reaction to the stings that warranted any medical attention. Still, getting stung sucks, and usual at least warrants some whining and complaining.
But there was none of that. Zero. Instead, benadryl and antihistamines were acquired immediately. People were constantly checking on sting victims’ conditions. Stories of past wasp encounters were swapped. Everyone supported one another in any way possible.
But that wasn’t the cool part. What amazed me was that those who had multiple stings pushed onwards and worked harder than before. A group of individuals who were mostly doing this project as a means to give back could have easily packed it up and said, “this isn’t really worth the hassle,” or “let’s try again another day,” but it WAS worth the hassle to these people. I had seen plenty of crew members whine and complain at much smaller incidents. Not these guys.
I was already proud to be working amongst them. And that theme of dedication carried on for the entire duration of the shoot. People volunteered to take on multiple crew positions. Shots were never rushed, but instead ran at a calm, steady pace. Even as we shot through the night on a late shoot day, people were constantly pushing themselves through sleep deprivation and adverse conditions in order to create something great.
Amongst all of the passion put into the film, Michael’s was never in question. Whenever I thought about how tired or worn out I was, I looked to him. Despite the probable frenzy of thoughts and distractions running through his tired mind, he continued to operate (or at least maintained the image of operating) with focus and clarity, never losing his temper or flinching in the face of a new problem.
I’m confident that the dedication put into this film will show when it has its rounds on the festival circuit, as it truly was a labor of love. I’m proud to have worked with the crew that I did, and I’ve even had the opportunity to continue to work on other projects with some of the individuals that I met on this shoot.
If you have the opportunity to do so, see this film, and keep in mind that it wasn’t made possible because of big budgets or big names, but rather through the dedication of a group of filmmakers that wanted to seize the opportunity to give back to the film community. And if you’re in a position to do so, I wholeheartedly recommend getting involved with Filmstigator. It has been the most rewarding film experience I’ve yet to encounter.