I-Land is where memories and experiences turn into short stories, personal journal entries and narration in first person, part memoir, part fiction, exploring topics such as the relation between humans and the societies they live in.

Tearing The Cocoon: On Set

Image courtesy of Emmanuel Giusti

[Previously on TTC: What deliverance to be the product of something fresh and energetic instead of a recycled leftover in an endless rumination process. What joy to start anew.]

Life on the film set was exhilarating. An entire world sprung forth from a hundred odd pages to occupy an entire town — two towns, to be accurate (Athens and Coxsackie, NY), plus the surrounding area. The locals were happy to have us. We were happy to be involved. The production was moving ahead.

We shot in crowded venues by the riverside. We shot in lonely cabins in the woods. We shot on the streets of the town and on the country roads. We shot in and around the homes of people, regular people, regular families, who offered their premises to us, and which we took over eagerly, replacing their furniture with our props, their décor with our esthetic, with our lights and shades and cameras and tripods and opinions about what went where, who needed what, how to light the corners of the room, how to obscure them, how to make the set authentic and engaging. We rearranged people’s lives for the brief moments necessary (often for just a day, sometimes longer) to capture the images we wanted. We placed our cast in our sets and directed them how to perform. We lit them up and toned them down and got them to deliver the magic necessary to bring the story’s characters to life.

Off the set, we got to know each other on a more personal and relaxed level. Some of us had met for the very first time, but life on set accelerates everything. We came together swiftly, by necessity, under the project’s banner. We did what we had to do for work and then caught up with each other during rest hours, which weren’t many, talking about the day’s work, or partying hard, or just kicking back and making merry. We ate, drank, teased, joked and did the stuff people do to crack the day’s exhaustion and frustration, building on all the high notes, digesting the low ones, preparing for the next day, hopefully a day even better than the previous one.

You always want to beat the previous day on a set. There’s always something you can do better.

Personally, I think this applies to all walks of life.

Some call me over-competitive, or high-strung, for my views on the world. They say I should kick back and relax, enjoy the chilled things in life.

They do so through droopy, drowsy eyes. I envy these people’s peace of mind, their ability to let go, but only long enough to recharge my batteries and hit the tense wire again where things get done.

See, no good story ever started with someone putting off something for later, or with a person using yesterday’s outcome to set today’s benchmark. Breaking even is a good strategy only when you’re down.

But to make headway, one has to make progress. One has to keep moving ahead. Rest long enough to get ready for another surge and be judged by people who see value in doing what one does, who value achievement above peace of mind. Be observed with eyes mindful of the past, not committed to it; with eyes engaged in the present and not bound to it, and with a mind focused on the future. Everything else is fanfare and nonsense. The quicksand of a life uneventful and not worth talking about.

Watch this space for Part 7