For Gaerin’s Fifth Co-op: The Extra One, I’m working as a production assistant for Sweetback Production‘s film Big Shoes Blues. This is the first film for the company which has, up until this point, been putting on plays in the Chicago area for decades. It is headed by the parents of my friend, Max, and his father, Michael McKune, is the film’s writer and director. My production assistant work has taken me in a few different directions, including shopping for props and costumes, as well as helping around the set in various capacities. While this has usually meant delivering items to people and setting up tables and chairs, the bit I’ve done to help set up the scenery (including hearing all the thought that goes into that) has been quite enjoyable. You just have to know where to put that plastic plant.
So far, I’ve mostly been a jack of all trades in my work. I spend a lot of my time running around and helping with whatever is needed. Though I have a hand in a lot of what goes down on set, I’m aware I’m pretty replaceable for the most part. I seldom know much of what I’m doing prior to a day or two before filming, save for the basics I always do and some sort of general schedule. However, I’ve gotten to know most of the people involved in the production, though that’s not a lot, and that’s been a definite positive. I feel like this has given me a chance to look at what goes into making a project like this from several different perspectives and feel encourages to pursue various means of fulfilling myself creatively. Over the past month, I have been trying to get better about writing down ideas I have for future creative projects and am trying to set aside time to develop these further, though I have felt pretty creatively drained throughout my time here. While my contributions to Big Shoes Blues are not exactly creative, being in a creative environment while putting my energy into doing things like arranging the seats of a restaurant patio or positioning a dumpster in an alley is fairly advantageous. The work can take a lot out of me but, on days when I’m not working, I am able to be inspired by the work I am in proximity to, which is one of the main things I’ve enjoyed about this co-op. But what I’ve liked most about this opportunity has been working alongside friends for the purpose of a larger project.