Amy Williams has collaborated with director Ira Sacks on award-winning films "Keep the Lights On" and "Love is Strange", as well as designing "Hungry Hearts" and "Sleeping with Other People" among others. She won an Emmy for the TV show "A Crime to Remember" and recently designed the Netflix TV series "Master of None" and HBO's "Crashing".
Kia Ora from New Zealand PDC. It's Thanksgiving back in the States today and I'm feeling terribly homesick, but Inbal has asked for a contribution, so here it goes....
What's my number one tool for an away job? There is the obvious iPhone, iPad, laptop....holding our info, photos, references, translation apps, we can draw on them and share ideas with a click. The other "duh" necessity is a positive attitude.
It seems like I pack less and less in terms of a "kit" each time I go away on a job. Shipping a kit and office supplies is pointless, especially if you're anywhere near civilization. You can always find a staple and borrow a mechanical pencil from your local art director.
My first away job was a tiny indie in Guyana 11 years ago. I packed up suitcases of dressing and props, most of which got held up in customs. There was nothing in terms of film-making resources there however I was still able to find sheers, fairy lights and picture cars.
Good weather gear never goes unused and as I've said before, everything else you can buy! Chargers, sunglasses, note pads, drafting tools......So, travel light but do your homework (organize and know the material ahead of time).
An open mind and "when in Rome" attitude helps with the local crew/team. The last thing anyone wants, is a know-it-all, American, super-ego marching in and flipping the script. Eat lunch with your crew, joke with them, appreciate their motherland, absorb the culture, get into it. You're a guest and you need their help more than they need yours. Oh and keep your directives clear and be accessible, especially if you don't speak the same language.
Actually, the biggest tool (if I can call him that) and the one that keeps me grounded is my son Roman. I can't do without my child, and therefore I take him with me everywhere. When he come's along for the ride it helps me more than anything. I do have to negotiate more travel, find an au pair or nanny, drag along my partner or a helpful relative and find a daycare. It's hard and it's expensive, but its beautifully immersive for Roman. He's traveled with me to Austin, LA, Italy, Taiwan, New Zealand and Detroit.....he's only 4. I'm one of those working humans that wants both the family and the creatively fulfilling project. It's F'ing exhausting for sure. Our business is near impossible for healthy relationships due to the distant locations and hours. I've learnt that you can separate them and make time for both. You can also multitask and combine the two... WIN WIN. With my Son in tow, I actually do and see more of the places I work in. I meet more people and experience more creative influences. Plus, I have someone to come home to at the end of a long day of reeces, scouts, surveys or whatever they call it wherever you happen to be in the world. I hope these "away-job" experience's punctuate both the professional and personal timeline of our lives. The growth seems worth it and the perspective is invaluable.
But the most IMPORTANT tool for me has been a tape measure with both imperial and metric units. It's been key on my last two away jobs because I really truly hate math.
To view Amy's work visit her website: https://www.amyrwilliams.com/
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