What Does a First Assistant Director Really Do? with Brandon Riley
What does a First Assistant Director actually do on set? Do you need one? The short answer is YES! I’ve directed with no First Assistant Directors, with bad 1st Assistant Directors, and with world-class First ADs and trust me I rather work with the latter. Today’s guest is First Assistant Director, Brandon Riley.
Brandon started out in the entertainment industry working as an Assistant Director and later joined the DGA. With a vast knowledge of how a set operates and functions, Brandon has since gone on to produce, line produce and UPM features and TV projects. Brandon is a natural born leader who aims to lead every show in a calm assertive manner. He prides himself in aiming to create an environment where both cast and crew are treated well and have an enjoyable experience on set. Brandon is one who continually tries to bring the best out in others and always pushes for excellence in every area. He has a passion for problem-solving and is an invaluable team player.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- BlackBox – Make Passive Income From Your Footage
- Studio Unknown Audio Post – Mention the IFH podcast, and you’ll receive 50% off one day of ADR
- How to Shoot and Direct an Improvised Feature Film in 24 hours
- Filmmaker in a Box – Learn How to Make an Indie Film
- Martin Scorsese Film Directing Masterclass (WATCH FOR FREE)
- Ron Howard Film Directing Masterclass (WATCH FOR FREE)
- Judd Apatow Comedy Writing/Directing Masterclass (WATCH FOR FREE)
- Aaron Sorkin Screenwriting Master Class (WATCH FOR FREE)
- FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)
- IFH MASTERS CIRCLE – Filmmaking Community
- IFH’s Online Film School
- Six Secrets to get into Film Festivals for FREE!
BONUS: Filmmaking Resources
- Martin Scorsese’s Film Directing MasterClass (Watch it for FREE for 7 days)
- Ron Howard’s Film Directing MasterClass (Watch it for FREE for 7 days)
- Filmmaking Hacks: Filmmaking Master Course
- Directing Actors Film Workshop
- USC Film School’s ONLY Online Course: Directing the Actor
- Film Lighting MasterClass
- Recording Sound for Indie Film
- The Art of Micro-Budget Filmmaking
- Cinematography MasterClass
- Film Festival Hacks: Submit Like a Pro
- Self-Distributing Your Film Online
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Welcome to the indie film hustle as a podcast episode number 254. I didn’t learn how to make a movie in film school. What I learned in film school was to express yourself with pictures and sound but learning to make films. Is a totally different Martin Scorsese broadcasting from the back alley in Hollywood.
It’s the indie film hustle podcast where we show you how to survive and thrive as an indie filmmaker in the jungles of the film Biz and here’s your host Alex Ferrari. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am your humble host Alex Ferrari. Today’s episode is brought to you by Black Box black box is a new platform and community.
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Just go to Studio unknown now today on the show. We have Brandon Reilly. Was a first assistant director and I don’t have him on the show because I wanted to kind of put a spotlight on first assistant directors and their importance and how to do it properly. We discuss how not to do it properly. And uh, sometimes you need them.
Sometimes you don’t but if you can afford it you should always have one because they are wonderful and very helpful. If you’ve got the right one and I’ve shot with with first aid, he’s without first aid. He’s with good at First Dates these. With bad first aid ease and with legendary first ladies, so if you can afford it definitely use one.
So Brandon and I get into the Weeds about what a first date he really does how to do the job. And if you’re interested if you’re listening out there and this might be interesting to you to become a first date and how becoming a first date he can get you into the Directors Guild which hopefully maybe lead you into other work down the line.
Uh, it’s a very interesting conversation. So without any further ado, Please enjoy my talk with Brandon Reilly. I’d like to welcome to the show Brandon Reilly man. Thank you so much for jumping on the show with me man. Thanks. Alex. Glad to be here. We’ve never had a first a d on the show. So I’m going to beat you up on how to do it properly because I’ve been with too many don’t do it properly if I can help no worries, man.
So how did you get into the film business in the first place? Well, you know, it’s a funny story when I was seven years old. I met a famous film producer. Um, he was a son of Michael Ilitch who owns Little Caesars pizza and I told my dad is like I want to be a film producer to and my dad was like sure you can do that.
And so, you know in the back of my mind, I was thinking I can do this, you know, and you know, um, You know Junior High and high school. I got involved in journalism. I really became obsessed with story and and telling stories and taking pictures and um, that was something that interested me. So filmmaking was this natural thing that um, I was you know obsessed about um, you know went to film school.
Um, Did the typical thing kind of regretted it kind of did you know, I don’t know if it was helpful, um, you know, because I feel like I can learn more in a film set than I can three years ago Film School. Um, I would have honestly I would agree with I went to film school to and everything. I learned.
You know what I learned in film School how to wrap a cable. Bright, that was really important. Yeah. I mean the thing about Film School you learn is is writing I think and that’s that’s helping me today because and how to think um, you know, I say philosophy as well and you know, I’m working on helping people scripts and different things like that.
And I think that’s one thing it’s hard to pick up, you know. Um, so yeah did the film school thing and then I worked. You know the videographers for several years just doing lots of random videos corporate corporate videos commercials. Um, all types of things. I was wearing a lot of hats, you know, I was like riding and shooting and editing and you know, mostly editing and hating that um, you know, spending, you know 12 hours in a dark room.
Um, so I was like, I need to move to LA so that’s why I did so I saved up some money. Moved to LA and and I um. Couldn’t find a job couldn’t get anything really, you know, and um, so I started driving cars and um as a valet driver and um, that’s what you want to do after film school is Strike cars, obviously because that’s gonna help you pay back debt quick, right exactly.
So but then I get my first break working for free on a TV pilot as a grip. I love that. I love that. You just said I got my big break working for free. Yeah. So that was The Big Break was working for free as a grip. Right and I did that for half a day before they realized that I sucked at as a grip, but they needed somebody in the camera department.
And so I was like I can do that because I did that a little bit College. I used to think I wanted to be a DP and so so I did that camera AC thing. Um, and after that show working for free I got like, you know, Pay jobs, right and the pay jobs paid a lot of money like 50 bucks a day. Holy cow. What are you gonna do with all that cash.
I better find some tax Havens man. So I’m continuing to like valet drive and word $50 today all these films as a camera. And then actually my big break came was the DP that I was working as an from she was married to producer and he was about to produce some indie horror film and and I somehow convinced him to let me first ad his movie.
Right and I never first before I never second before I never really been a PA on a set. Um, but he believed in me and so it was great. Um, so. The movie was a Six-Day shoot. Yeah, we shot a movie in six days. Um, so very challenging, you know, I was wearing um 25, so it’s one second. My alarm is going off for some reason.
Um, so yeah, we’re in 45 hats, you know, we’re shooting like 12 Pages a day was it was nuts. Um, but that’s where I got my first big break. I feel like because after that I got. The second job the third job and the fourth job. Um, and so then I’ve been working as an ADA, um for many years and I got into the Directors Guild um, and then I started producing now in the producers Guild.
Um, and so, you know, I’m also trying to develop my own projects and you know work me other people writing scripts and doing that. Um, and so that’s kind of my journey in a nutshell. Well, like I was telling you before when we were off air, I was telling you that you are the definition of hustle. I mean if you go to as IMDb guys and I’ll put it in the show notes.
It’s insane like you just like constantly working. It was it was pretty remarkable and all the other stuff that you do on the side as well. You definitely are Hustler and you got to be in this business without question. Well, yeah, I’ll tell you a funny story last year. Maybe it’s two years ago. I.
I was I was not working and I got I saw this thing on Facebook and I was like, hey, we need to first CD to cover our first stadia got sick. Right? I was like, oh this is me I could do this, right so so he brought the guy is like I’m your guy and um and the next morning they called like how fast can you be here?
Because there’s a Vegas and like, um, I’ll be there in four hours three hours. So I yeah, I packed my bag like. And one hour and then drive to drive to Vegas and then and then continue and I jump on set and try to get things going right. Um, so I do that so and then the next show after that was the I had they had fired at first ad and so I.
That’s the next show is in Atlanta, but it was starting like a day after this other show in Vegas. So I had essentially like have no prep on both of these shows and it’s just like one thing after there’s so many things like that where it’s like, You have to make these decisions. Are you gonna you know do this or not?
It’s like but yeah, it was definitely I had to hustle to get those. You know, now let me let me ask you a question because a lot of people listening don’t know what is the job of a first assistant director or first ad right? So in my opinion the job of the first ad is really to make it so the director can focus on the creative, right and he’s not worried about logistics.
So. Um, because if you try to do both it’s just so much for one person. So, you know I try to. Put out as many fires as possible. And so I’m on the radio, um talking to the second ID in the second second. I’m talkin to the Pas and all the other departments saying hey, um, bring this actor we’re going to do a blocking and and what how are we doing on the next scene?
I’m talkin to the costume designer and saying hey, we’re having to change this wardrobe. Can you get a different look? And and while the director is talkin to the DP about the shot. He’s not having to worry about that logistical thing. So, you know, you know, when I do the first day I’m working very close with the DP and the director and we’re making essentially working as a team to make all these decisions.
Like how do we get through the day, you know, um, and some first ladies have a certain way where you know, People have heard the first aid he’s screaming for you and some are very calm. And you know, I try to be between I don’t try to yell or anything. But you know the first day these can sometimes be looked at as the bad guy, you know, well you guys are you guys you’re the party pooper man.
You guys are the Party Poopers but you need that you need an adult onset and a lot of times the director and the actors and the DPR all in the creative mode and like let’s just get this shot and it’s going to only take four hours. I’m like well, then we’re out of our schedules. And that’s that’s your job.
Yeah, and I think what’s Difficult about it is you have to be very diplomatic because oh you can’t just say hey, you can’t just say the director. Hey, we’re moving moving on, you know, because it’s the really the directors decision whether you’re moving on or not. You’re just there to tell them.
Hey, if you don’t this is what’s gonna happen. Yeah, I mean I just I inform him. Hey, I think we’re behind or in my opinion. We are behind. Um, we is there a way that we can catch up, you know, and so it’s and you know, I want to be there with solutions to like, well, here’s a couple of things could we do this in a one or right, you know instead of 45 takes different angles.
Can we just do this in a water and move on? Yeah. You know, it’s having those lunch meetings with the DP and the director. Like what can we do to to make come up with the rest of the day? You know, I want you I want to kind of focus in on this because a lot of first-time directors and filmmakers are inexperienced directors don’t understand the importance of the schedule.
Don’t understand that you’ve got an eight-hour 10-hour 12-hour day. And if you’re shooting a feature then if you are if you like first day, you’re behind the page. Well, you’ve got to make that page up somewhere if by day to you now behind two pages, so let’s say that’s three pages down. You’re never gonna finish the movie.
If you keep going down this path, you never gonna finish the movie in the whole thing’s gonna become a fiasco, right? And that’s the job of the first-aid. He’s too kind of really hone in on look. We’ve got to make the day and a good and a good director a seasoned director understands that correct.
Yeah, and I think yeah, but some of them don’t care, you know, so it’s a kind of a thing where you know, you have to be the middleman between the director and the producer or a can we even go over you know, and so it’s like well go, you know, they’ll ask me we’ll go talk to producers say we need the shot and then I’ll go talk to the producer and they’ll say well go back to the director and say we don’t have the money for the shot.
So, you know, it’s kind of one of those things of you know, you’re trying to be the Peacekeeper essentially. Um and and and keep things moving. Uh, but you know, I’m always trying to fight for the best movie, you know, and sometimes the best movie needs to go and overtime sometimes, you know, the best movie needs more extras more money, you know, um, and so I do sometimes go to the producers and say hey, I know that you guys budgeted 100 extra for this movie.
I did my math is that with the director? I came out with 140, you know, can we find a way to increase the budget on this category? You know, so it’s it’s um, it’s being realistic and you know instead of like saying, okay, we only have 100 work with I guess we’ll just have to live with it. You know, um, or do some visual effects, right?
Now now can you explain um how the first ad breaks down a script which I know that’s a mystery to a lot of filmmakers were like, oh you give it to a first day D. I need the script broken down. What is that? Exactly? You know, it’s actually a lot easier than people think it is, but you know, I get hired all the time to just do a script breakdown and a budget.
Um, You know probably on a monthly basis people call me like hey, can you do a schedule on a budget? Um, so the easiest way to explain is, you know, you look at every scene in the script and we have to have the scene number. And we look for how long is the scene? Is it five eighths of a page who’s in the scene?
You know, we have you know, John Mary and and um Joseph Joseph three wise men, right? Yes. So and then you know, what, are there any props in the scene? Where is the scene is location is you know, where is it at is there stunts on the scene is there yeah, so and then the program that. Use is called movie Magic scheduling is the main program.
There’s other ones like synchronized but gorilla, but the nice thing I’m moving magic is because so many people have it. If you send them the file they could easily open it. It’s industry standard. Yeah. Um, so that’s the nice thing about it. Um, yes, it’s it’s kind of antiquated but it’s still it’s a cool software, you know when I was.
When I was in college, I didn’t really know much about assistant directing or movie Magic. So I was like, how do people do this thing? I could talkin about. Um, but it’s it’s there’s YouTube videos that puts out that you can watch and learn but the other thing is like you can you can ask a first ad like hey, will you show me a little and it only takes like five minutes to show you the program essentially, you know, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not difficult.
I think what’s difficult is. Once you break it down is moving the strips around and actually scheduling it because that’s that’s where the producers will get on the phone with you and be like, okay. Well, we have 15 days but this actor can only work three days and this actor can only work. For days and that you know, we we can only be on this location on this one day.
And so all these parameters come into play when you actually actually start shooting that aren’t involved when the film is actually budgeted and um, you know that can create a real nightmare. Um without question. Yeah. The schedule in general though is like a living breathing thing. It’s constantly changing.
It’s constantly moving around because there’s so many parameters, uh that affected like like oh this actor is now leaving a day early and the other actors coming in a day early. So now we got to change that around and oh the location dropped we got to move to another location. Oh there’s rain coming and there’s there’s just so many things especially in a feature when you’re 30 days 45 days, you know, five weeks six weeks eight weeks.
There’s so many different parameters and I can only imagine on those like 200 million dollars movies. So I know they have to have like an army of IDs to just kind of because that’s like moving independent, uh, you know film as an idea. I’m imagining it’s a smaller ship so you can cut and you’re kind of speed boat, but when you’re moving that 200 million dollar visual effects Extravaganza, it’s like moving a carrier.
Yeah. I mean, yeah the movie Dunkirk they had, you know, five different. Countries a shot in so I mean, can you imagine but you know as of AD as the first ad I think it’s almost like. Like like a ship Commander, you know or you know, like a battle commander. You’re all about strategy, right? How are you going to when the battle so, you know every day on the film set feels like a battle sometimes but you every every day you go in and just like, all right.
It’s not gonna come out the way I planned right? I’m not gonna get all my shots. Let’s just do what we can and let’s move forward on it. And yeah, you just don’t know it’s just so there’s just too many parameters man. It’s just too many right things happening. Yeah, so if you if you take all that all that responsibility and try to force it on a director, this is too much for one person to think about, you know, it’s like I’m overloaded just thinking about logistics.
It’s I can’t think about the creative, you know, and I’ve uh, I’ve done it is not easy things on smaller things. Yeah feature anything–but right smaller things. Well, actually I did to it on a future once but I didn’t put it was a very controlled very small situation. So it was able to do it. But I’m also been doing it for 20 years.
So I it’s a little bit different but yeah is not easy now. It’s not I much rather have a good first, right? Yeah because even if I was directing something I wanted first ad, you know, just because you want the freedom to be creative and not have to think about who do I need to bring to set next and because because you’re as a director you’re constantly thinking about.
Um is the scene work, you know is the acting uh, uh, what’s the shot like talking to the DP? You know, so there’s already and then you have 100 different questions from each department, you know, they’re trying to answer so. Um, I I love being the first day D but it’s also very stressful sometimes so I think sometimes I don’t know on the show you guys do it in general and you were you said you said something earlier where there’s two things.
I wanted to kind of touch the you said earlier, um, but you could show uh, you know, a filmmaker or producer director how to use movie Magic but that’s just a piece of software. Whereas in the art form of using that just schedule is something. It takes years to an experience to be able to do because you know where there’s going to be.
Oh, there’s a pitfall right there. There’s a cliff that we don’t want to go over. Yeah, but that’s just you know, so it just because you might know the software doesn’t mean that you can schedule your own movie if you have no, right exactly. Yeah, you could do a rough schedule any big new rough schedule, but.
In terms of like budgeting something, um, but like even stuff like understanding how to shoot a split or night or how much night you actually need before you can start shooting, you know, so if the sun sets at 7:48, I know that we can probably start shooting around 8:30, if if we’re, you know going full speed we can’t start shooting at 7:30 just because of my experience is too bright.
So, um, those are the types of things that you. It takes years of experience and and you kind of learn, you know on the job really as working as a second or or or as a first, you know, um, just collaborating with other IDs and be like, hey, well, what about this and this you know, and that’s what the other thing I like about it is you are working with other people and and bouncing ideas off.
Um, So this problem solving you’re trying to we’re all just trying to get across the across the river. Yeah, I think yeah, that’s I mean in general. That’s what I see. My job primarily as is a problem solver as a first lady or a line producer. I’m either like a list of 100 problems and I’ve got to solve them and and that’s what I like about it.
Now you also mentioned the about yellers and screamers and also quiet first aid. He’s uh, I’ve had all I’ve worked with all I can’t stand yellers because I feel personally it doesn’t. It doesn’t really for at least from my sets. I mean if you’re on a set that might be different. Um, um, but if you’re um, by the way guys Joe pick him up, he’s a very famous commercial director and the stories will speak for themselves.
Um, but uh, but generally speak. I like to have a really cool calm. Relax have a fun kind of atmosphere. And when when I always found that when I see first aid, he’s yelling is because they’re losing control and this is now their last last line of defense, but they’re also times where I kind of see where it’s needed.
So there is a balance but generally speaking the quiet controlled first-aid. He’s who know what they’re doing, uh, and and have the respect of the crew. Which is a huge thing. If you lose if you lose your crew you’re done as a first date. Right. Yeah, and I think there’s a difference between yelling and being loud times.
You have to be loud and be like if you’re open allowed in open space on a field, you know, you might have to use a megaphone you might have to you know, do this. Um, yeah, I’m with you I there’s no reason to yell and and honestly, like you said it makes people feel like you’re out of control. Um, and with the season with a seasoned crew the season cruel Eat You Alive.
I mean, yeah season Hollywood crew with a yelling first ad who’s inexperienced. It’s done. They just yeah, they’ll just go on doing their own thing and they’ll ignore them which happened to me. I’m like, oh man. Yeah, you know one thing that I try to do on every movie, um is I meet with the director.
And the DP and myself if I found the first lady or the producer and we have a little powwow and we talked about how do we want to set to be run? You know, because I think sometimes I mean you’re all coming together you never work with each other for the most part unless you have before and so everybody has these different assumption.
You know some some first-time directors think that they’re supposed to direct the extras when that’s really like the idea job. Yeah, so sometimes there’s like an educational meeting. I was like, okay, so and then I asked the director. How do you want to set to be run? You know, what what do you want and then and I’ll talked about like what some are my expectations are you know that if if we feel behind how are we going to address that on the day, you know just and and that’s like an hour meeting.
And that our meeting has really changed the way I work because because we can point back to that meeting. I remember when we talked about that or just knowing that they know that hey we’re going to set the extras you don’t have to worry about that. But if you want to you want to help us figure out this one piece, you know get dirty.
Let us know. Um, and I think that that that’s been helping. Helpful for me, I guess again communication always is a big help when working on a set now. Can you you’ve mentioned second second 80s and 30s. What are the what are the differences between the multiple and I’ve seen many multiple versions of a DS, uh on the set.
Yeah, it’s funny. I’ve actually never been a second second. So I’m I can tell you a little about it, but I’ve never done it. Um. And it’s mostly have to do with you know, working with the background actors and working with talent. And you know, if you have 300 extras that day, you might have several seconds seconds and they’re just all giving the background.
They’re setting background giving them Direction the wrangling them are they would you consider them like glorified Pas at that point? Because I’ve heard that like a lot of Pas just like okay, you’re the second second thing. Yeah. I mean, sometimes it’s a credit that’s given to a PA if you don’t have.
A second second. Um, it’s it’s really the first aid he’s right hand man on set a lot of times, you know, um, in terms of a lot of times the second IDs at base camp doing a call sheet. Um, sometimes the second is Onset helping with background different things but a lot of time. That they’re so much paperwork.
They’re just not able to be on set as much and then a third idea the same thing as the second second. It’s just in a different country. They call them different things so I can UK they might call them a third got it. Um, so or fourth what sometimes you might need it because there’s like 5,000 people that you are trying to Wrangle.
Well, yeah and in the u.s. We wouldn’t we wouldn’t have a third or fourth. We’d have like an additional second ad, you know. And then we’d have a second second and if you could have an additional second second step like that. Uh, and sometimes you might have to first a DS if it’s a TV show and they’re rotating and all that kind of stuff.
So, uh, it gets really complicated. Now. You also know you also do line producing. Uh, can you talk a little bit about what the job of a line producer is versus a you p.m.
You know in my opinion starts early on with the film and and they might open bank accounts. They might uh, make get the tax incentives get all the accounts open and then um handle the budget, um, a lot of the major hires and then you p.m. Would come on later in the game and um, Take over some of those responsibilities, you know in terms of hiring the crew managing payroll working with the accountants and stuff.
Um, really that the two overlap a lot but on a big show, I think they’re important to have both because there’s so much to do. Um, you don’t want to just have another PA you no one no one so, um, You know, I did a show for the CW where I was lying producer and we had a you p.m. And we kind of split responsibilities a little bit and it was very helpful because you know, I was busy all day, you know, um, but there’s some shows where I don’t have a you p.m.
It’s just kind of on the line producer and that’s that’s what it is. Um, and for everybody listening upm is a unit production manager. Um, because a lot of people don’t know what are you p.m. Is in general. Now. What uh, what is the DGA and how does the first ad get into the DGA? So the DJ is the Directors Guild of America and it’s the union for directors ad and ups and line producers and you PM’s right?
Wilson line producers are not on actually in a union. Okay. So, um, there there the one of the few categories that don’t have a union same thing as producers aren’t in a union although you can join a producers Guild but that’s more of a club like like the ASC. Yeah, so I’m in the bruisers bill. But yeah, I’m in a club.
Basically, you’re not getting you’re not getting you’re not getting a pension from the parietal. I mean, it’s a cool Club to be a part of um, there’s lots of parties and stuff like that. So. The way you get into the DJ is very complicated. But the easiest way is to get into the DGA training program and that happens every year I think applications and around April or May and and essentially they take like 20 people, um, they accept, you know out of hundreds of applications and if you get accepted then you get like two or three years of work and you work on big shows and TV shows as a trainee.
Trainee assistant assistant training and um and then, you know you’re set for life because you built contacts and you know, you can easily step in to be a second and then go be a first um, I did did not do that. I tried but I was not qualified enough. Um, so and the reason they they don’t always pick.
Who you think they’re gonna pick sometimes it people with no film experience at all. So you so you really don’t know who these people are gonna pick and um, so I didn’t let that discourage me. But um so you can get on the other option is to get on a show that flips, you know, and that’s how I got on I was um on a show where the you p.m.
I was hired before the you p.m. And the upm was a DJ. You p.m. And she wanted to make the show part of the union. And so that would mean that I would have to join and so I joined know when you when you flip a show that’s generally not a depending on the perspective. It’s not a good thing sometimes.
Well, there’s different flipping I guess flipping for the DJ’s only like three people or four people. It’s like it’s not like, uh, I yeah, yeah, so it’s director you p.m. First and second or second second. Um, but yeah the ayats which covers the rest of the crew except for teamsters, you know, that’s.
People and they taught mostly talk about flipping that’s what they mostly refer to. Um, because you really can’t it’s really weird for a show to flip DJ. So I guess it wasn’t really flipped. It was more of just. I was grandfathered in essentially. Uh, she’s not gonna back door. He’s not gonna be so that’s how I got in and then the other way to get in is through working as a PA.
Yes, uh that remember that and like you get like 600 days or something like that and I have to be on some commercial ql um, and you can call if you have questions. You can call the DGA qql website and they’ll kind of walk you through how to. If I’d it’s important though to keep call seats and you have paycheck stubs.
Yeah, um because if you can’t prove that you weren’t. Um, they’ll kick out some of your days, you know. Um, so so if you if you PA for 600 days and you can prove it with call sheets and pay stubs, that’s a way in to the DGA to get in but that’s a long that’s a long way around. Yeah, I mean the other way like I was working was collecting days as a non-union first and then I’m able to basically cash those days in to be listed as a certain ql you know, so, um, that’s the DJ is very complicated because of the one because it’s a wonderful Union once you’re in yeah, the pension is insane.
The medical is insane. Um, it’s one of the best unions in the business period. Yeah, it really is a great Union. Although it’s sometimes tough because you can’t take other work. You can’t take none non-union work and whereas if I go work if I’m an IFC member lot of times they don’t care as much, you know, right?
Uh, and I didn’t really know that going into it, but I know I know now, so yeah now let me ask you a question. How do you handle a director? That is just. Breaking down and completely losing control on set. Is there anything the first ad can do to help um, because I’m sure you’ve been on projects where the it’s a first-time director or he’s having a bad day or he’s having a bad movie.
Uh, and it’s just completely just breaking down losing control. What is there anything you can do to help? You know, I don’t know if it I mean losing control. I don’t know about as much as out of control. I mean maybe it’s more of I’ve dealt with directors that are yelling and screaming and firing firing people out of control so out of control.
Yeah. Yeah. So um, yeah, I mean that’s always a tough thing because you know, everybody wants to keep their job, you know, so it’s like, um, I buy the same time the director will listen to me where they might not listen to the third PA, you know, so I I think it’s challenging because you have to pull them aside and be like, hey, I know I know you’re upset.
Like there’s this one instance where this actor we thought that she cut her hair and he just went to get rid of her and um, you know, it was an African American actress and. She didn’t really cut her hair. It was like they had these braids, you know, so right but I was like it’s like if we fire this actress we’re gonna have to reshoot these two days of stuff like dollars as like as like and we don’t have the time or the money is like so, you know, So in that instance, I was able to convince him not to fire her right?
It was just Logics. It was logical right but it’s like sometimes you know, and there are so there are a few directors that are bipolar just because the profession attracts some people. Um that are highly creative, you know, and and I’ve worked with many of these guys and so that’s challenging to you know, so I think you know, it’s trying to be the calm one onset is my goal is trying to okay.
I know we’re this this huge problem is in front of us, but let’s. Let’s think about it because if we’re if we’re being loud and and um angry about it. It’s not gonna solve itself, you know, so, um, I just try to come up with as many solutions as possible and talked to him in a calm assertive way.
And um, I don’t know if that’s answering the question but it is it is it is I mean, it’s uh, it’s tough when you have an out-of-control directors kind of like having an out-of-control General. Like, you know all of a sudden they’re firing people or attacking places that they shouldn’t be attacking General.
So same thing goes with a director. He could Out of Control director can bring down the entire movie within minutes. Yeah, and it’s tough and then you’re stuck in the middle between the producer and oh God. There’s so much drama that can happen. When you when when you have people like that now you tell me a little bit about assistant directing your website.
So yeah, it’s just a little side that I created a couple years ago. It was funny the domain was available and I was like, I just got to buy this thing. Um, and I just put blogs and articles and some downloads on there, uh to help others that are wanting to get into assistant directing and um, you know, I just have every time I go work on a film set.
I learned something new and I was like, oh this could be a post and I posted, you know, um, you know, I had a friend of mine contact me today. And he’s an ADA friend of mine, but he’s producing movies. Like where do you get non-union extras? Like why I was like, I do find these LA Casting when I’m in Los Angeles.
And so that was you know, that’s like that’s like another topic for a blog post is finding non-union extras and I have that open. I have a couple of those posts but um, I don’t know. I just I feel there’s value in Sharing knowledge and experiences with others and you know, I wrote a book kind of about my experience.
Yeah, can you tell me about your book? Yes, so it’s called the career the career chose me and just kind of talks about, you know choosing the right career. Um and in a way that you don’t have to go really find a career that the premise is really that if you figure out who you are and what you like and what you’re good at that the career will essentially choose you and that’s kind of what happened to me in the sense that I really fell into assistant director assistant directing.
You know, I just. I didn’t know what it’s just injecting was. But if I did I would have chosen a long time ago, you know, because um, I love scheduling I love budgeting. I’ve always been super organized person. God bless. God bless you sir. I can’t that’s why we need first aid. He’s okay. I think I was the editor of my school newspaper in high school and I was telling my peers what to do.
And you know today I’m telling my peers what to do, you know, so it’s kind of a similar thing. Um, so I talked about my my personal story in the book, but I make it, you know broad. It’s not just about filmmaking. It’s really about that careers. Um, but I do give some helpful hints for those that want to pursue the film industry.
And so the website is the career chose me and it is available on Amazon. I’ll put that in the show notes. Now I’m gonna ask you a few questions. I ask all of my guests. Um, what advice would you give a filmmaker wanted to break into the business today? Yeah, I mean, I think like we talked about college earlier the question is whether or not to pursue college and then because you may may not be the best thing and to where to live because you know, the market is, you know, so fragmented now, you know, I’m.
Why I’m producing this movie and luisi Louisiana right now, but right, um, you know, I also live in Los Angeles and um, so, you know, you can really live in a lot of different places. So it’s looking where the tax credits right now and Atlanta and Louisiana those could be good markets to live in.
Um, yes, you could go to Los Angeles or New York, but the competition is so heavy. So you just have to really you know, I think about do you want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? Um and you know, so where do you live? Um, and um, but I think you know being self-aware is very important.
And um, I think that’s one of the biggest. Things for most people is there not enough self-aware and you know, so my biggest downfall was I was like, I want to be a DP for a decade and you know, I was okay. I mean I could I could be a fine camera operator I could shoot video, but when it comes down to it, I’m not great with math.
F you know trying to figure out what f-stop doesn’t come natural to me, so it’s not a great profession for me to choose if it doesn’t come not necessarily easy, but I just don’t enjoy that part of it, you know. So, um if I would have realized that earlier on and been more self-aware if I would have asked more people.
Hey, what do you think? I’m good at what do you think I should pursue? Um, I think that would have helped me, um find this position this ad producer position earlier, you know, um, but I I don’t feel like I wasted that much time I got so I don’t know. Those are the main things. Okay now, can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?
I don’t know if I know that there’s so many books, you know. I don’t know if there’s one book but I will say that when I was in high school. I became a voracious reader. Like I just started reading dozens of books on leadership. And that was something that topic of leadership. I think has affected the way that I I try to work and work with people and I think if you can understand leadership and how people want to be treated.
Um, Because that’s a huge part of my job is is trying to leave people and and educate people um, and trying to make the right decision, you know, and um, But um read a lot. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, yeah, but I mean read nonfiction. I I’m a big non fiction reader. I guess. I just I love business books.
I love not. You know, uh, there is a book a great book about assistant directing by I can’t remember the name of it, but it’s um, It’ll come to me later. I’ll put it in the up put some hurt some links in the house. Yeah, so, um now what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life.
Um, listen took me the longest to learn. Um, I don’t know that’s a tough question. Don’t worry in life. Um, No, I think one thing that I realized a couple years ago was to stop waiting for jobs. You know, I’m saying like like I can always apply for something off Craigslist so I can apply for something off Mandy or you know, wherever these job applications are and that’s great.
Um. I but I’m not gonna depend on that to provide for me a job, right? So I’ve got to go out there and like your podcast I gotta hustle. So for me that means you know, I send a lot of cold emails to people that I don’t know. I like to me. Um, I you know, I. You know I go to networking events, even though I hate networking and I tried it too.
I have a goal where I just meet one person. You know, I don’t try to try to meet ten people. I just beat one person. Um, you know, so there’s small things. I I think the biggest thing is for me is also as following up with people they’ll say Hey, you know, hit me up in three months and I’ll put it on my calendar and I’ll hit him up and three months and and I think just having tenacity to.
You know keep bugging people sometimes and I hate being the one to bug somebody but I’m you know, I’m known for that is kind of you know, basically the lesson is hustle. That’s a lot a lot. Now what a three of your favorite films of all time three my favorite films. Um, one of my favorite films is Magnolia by PT Anderson.
And not Steel Magnolias because people confuse very different movies. I know I haven’t even seen feel like I don’t know but um, I just love the tracking shots and Magnolia and you know the rain and the the falling frogs and um, yeah, so my other favorite movie is Zoolander, um, of course because I can quote the entire movie sure.
Um, The third movie I don’t I don’t know. I’d have to think I mean I love I love spy films. So I just probably had to say like born one of the Bourne movies just think they’re well made now where can people find you so people can find me. Uh, my my personal website is the film fixer and um, My email is Brandon at radiant first.
Oh God. I’m sorry you did that. I told you not to but all right. Now you’re gonna get it. I know right? Yeah. Um, yeah and uh, let’s see I owe my my social media handles our radiant first so you can look me up that way and then it’s the directing. Yes, correct. Very cool. Brandon, man. Thank you so much for being on the show man.
You’ve dropped some first ad knowledge bombs on the tribe today. So I’d really appreciate it man. Hey, I appreciate it Alex. Thanks so much. I want to thank Brandon for coming on and dropping some first ad knowledge bombs on the tribe. If you want to get links to anything we discussed in this episode just head over to indie films to download the show notes.
And guys on a side note. I am working on another secret project. Not a future film. I think I’ve discussed this before but this is going to be huge. Uh, the biggest thing that I’ve ever done for the tribe for filmmakers in general and I really do hope it. Provides a tremendous amount of value because it’s really really a lot of work but I am working on that as we speak.
So keep an eye out next couple next month or two for an announcement and then a launch hopefully sometime in October November sometime but uh, just trust me you guys are gonna. Flip the hell out when uh when I talk to you about it. So keep an eye out. And if you haven’t already head over to filmmaking podcast and leave the show a good review on iTunes.
It really helps us out a lot. I really appreciate it. And as always keep that also going keep that dream alive and I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks for listening to the indie film hustle podcast at indie film hustle.