Knowing What the Work is

…is sometimes the hardest part.

If I only think that writing is putting words on the page, I might not be giving time over to thinking about the basic elements of the story and putting them in order.

If I only think that directing is about figuring out good shots, I might get stuck because I haven’t done the other work of figuring out how humans might operate in this space. Or I may have not done the work of really reading the script and figuring out which humans and in what space in the first place.

In my rush to check off the box of “shot list” or “script” or “schedule” I might be missing all the boxes that come before it.

But it’s hard to sit quietly and stay on the task of something that doesn’t feel like work. I don’t mean reading the script – we were trained in school that reading counts as homework. But stopping the reading, thinking about it, pondering ideas and turning them over in our heads – the ephemeral work of Digesting – it’s hard, it sometimes brings more questions than answers, and most of all we don’t Look Like We’re Doing Something.

And of course, the time comes when the work *is* putting words on the page, *is* placing the shots and making the list. I can indeed waste time in that preparatory phase. That’s the whole idea of phases. You must move between them. You can even cycle through them quickly, with experience.

But when I skip a phase, or short change it, it shows.

“How hard am I working?” isn’t enough.

So: I must know my phases.

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