A first day back on any job is like a first day at school; full of anticipation and the unknown. Yet it’s good when you realise you haven’t lost the ability to ride a bike you once loved as skills and experience stored in a dusty section of your brain re-emerge, writes returning Production Coordinator Mike Ogden. This is what happened to me as I worked on ‘Curfew’, a HETV drama for broadcaster Sky, produced by Tiger Aspect and Frith Tiplady’s Moonage Pictures at Space Studios in Manchester.
‘Curfew’ is huge and complex, easy to get lost or overwhelmed with if you haven’t experienced drama production. I’d had that experience and yet was full of anticipation of the unknown and new. Previously I was embedded in a camera team, my production management experience limiting me to the shorts and commercials I’d produced which felt like a long time ago.
As an assistant production coordinator, it was my task to help the team complete the mountain of paperwork needed to document their production day to day, to research ahead shoot locations, help with accommodation and travel requests and anything else thrown my way. Theirs is a twenty four hour production cycle, at times managing two full-on production location crews full of stunts, visual and practical effects, a big cast with many supporting artists all needing to be organised and looked after by a dedicated production team, with some staff walking through the door to begin their day as others are leaving for home after twelve hours managing.
You’ve got to love making drama to put up with this for several months. Dedicated. Do the work. For me that meant a tram and a train journey in to the studio and back home. Day by day. Helping to manage a shoot taking place unseen. Elsewhere. In a dark studio. On the pages of a call sheet. Unfolding slowly as you type in progress details, scene by scene, shot by shot from several departments. That’s what film making is. They don’t teach that in any film school. Lots of paperwork, but it helps to know what it contributes to and is aimed at. I found it fascinating. Maybe there’s something wrong with me? You have to be a little OCD in this job.
It was exciting to be involved with ‘Curfew’ in my small way, to contribute to a larger thing. It helped me restart, to show me I can be useful again. Like everyone else, I have ambition but it takes small steps to get anywhere. Re-learn old skills. Pick up new ones. Meet a bunch of nice people and do something creative. I miss that the most.