A friend once suggested that I write about the ‘teamwork’ aspect of making a film. Most of you have a vague idea that there are a lot of people involved in the process, but don’t really know how many, or what the heck it is that they all do. We actors get the most recognition, followed by producers and directors, music directors and playback singers… but many vital people who contribute hugely to a movie remain largely anonymous.Sure, those of us who work in the business talk about the sound design or the DI on a film (what’s DI? The answer is too long to go into, but trust me; it’s important), but that’s within the industry. The audience never knows about the guy who sits alone in a room for hours cleaning and refining the audio so that you can clearly hear each line of dialogue spoken by your favorite star.
You’ve probably heard that actors wear safety cables (also called wires) when doing dangerous stunts… so how come you never see those cables in the movie? Because there are people who sit and digitally erase the cables from each frame of film (and there are 24 frames per second, so just imagine how many frames make up the climax of an action film!).
This could very easily become a list of behind-the-scenes jobs in films, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about how we all come together for a few months, work till we fall down from exhaustion and then go our separate ways. You see, most people never realise just how much teamwork plays a part in what we do. An actor could be giving the performance of a lifetime, but if the cameraman doesn’t capture it correctly, nobody will ever see it.
Each and every shot depends upon each and every person from each and every department doing exactly the right thing at exactly the right moment. It’s stressful and demanding… but it also creates a kind of bond that few other things can. For example, as I sit and write this, there is a game of cricket underway. The actors, director, ADs and light boys are all taking turns batting and bowling, and there is no hierarchy. Or, when we’ve been shooting for hours and it’s past lunch time, no one complains, because we’re all in it together. Nobody starts eating until everyone has broken for lunch.
The fate of a film can never be predicted; it may do well, it may disappear without a trace. I’ve seen both happen. But that can’t change the way we approach our work. We still have to give it everything we have, and we still have to come together and work as a team. And that’s reflected in the term for an entire cast and crew of a film; it’s called a unit.
Read more Imran Khan columns