I'm no veteran, but I'm definitely at the stage where I know my way around a film set, how to work with the camera and the endless "back to one" nature of shooting a movie. (In case you're early in your career, "Back to one" is what the 1st Assistant Director will yell at the end of a take when he needs everyone to return to their first mark in order to reset and run the scene again.)
I have worked on bigger, fancier projects and stood across from household names. Not a lot, but enough that I am (finally) at a level where little films like this feel more routine and less "oh my god, I can't believe I'm here." Buh-lieve-you-me, I still have many of those OMG moments ahead on bigger budget jobs, but on a small film in a remote location like this one, I admit I'm less awe-inspired. Though when you're way out here, there are a lot of first-timers. Glossy-eyed newbs who are so excited to be working on the biggest thing that's come their way thus far in their young careers. We had a truckload of first-time PAs who were jazzed to see how this movie-making business really works.
And they were great. Excited and ridiculously hard-working. (Trust me... there is no one who has a shittier job than a grunt Production Assistant on a micro-budget film set in the middle of Nowhere, USA.) But they showed up to work every day and gladly made fifty trips lugging cases of water to set, holding an umbrella over the Director's head instead of their own and standing in the brutal sun and rain to keep any random on-lookers from wandering into our shot. These guys deserve more than college credit. They deserve a goddamn medal of honor!
One day when a couple PAs had finished their stint and were getting ready to pack up and head out, we thanked them profusely for their incredible dedication. They turned to me and another cast member and said,
"We were just so excited to be here. We both want to go into film-making and it was an amazing experience to be here and see real actors work."
It was so small, but it mattered so much to me. Sometimes in the crazy madness that is Los Angeles, I forget how far I've actually come. It's easy to start to feel like you've done nothing when the industry treats you like a gigantic nobody most of the time. But out here, in a sweet moment with a PA on his first movie, I was gently reminded that I have come a long way and should be very proud of it.
Let's keep going.