Days 2 & 3 on set of a Documentary Production

Day two was once again in the studio, we filmed another full day of interviews. This time we had exceptionally interesting subjects, the brothers that own the Chicago Brauhaus, Harry and Gunter. We also had a historian who looked at Chicago through the lens of bars, and we also had a columnist from the Chicago Tribune.

With the two brothers, we finally got some meat for the documentary, we got their German backgrounds, WWII, moving to America and opening up a restaurant in Lincoln square. Then talked about why they’re closing the Brauhaus instead of keeping it open and whatnot and how Lincoln Square is going from being a very German neighborhood to less than that because no more Germans are coming in anymore and just the culture is changing.

With some of these interviews we had to switch up the chairs and whatnot that we were shooting, and it completely messed everything up and made the whole process take longer than necessary because one chair was much larger than the other and therefore setting everything up again became more difficult than it should have been all because we failed to adhere to the markings that we made for where to place the chairs. We needed the interviews to all look similar and moving even just a little bit is going to change the whole dynamic of how we place these in the film later on.

DAY 3

Day 3 was a whole different beast. This time we were actually in the Brauhas filming. The Brauhaus is an old building but it was made well, for sound purposes. When it comes to filming, it is a very dim, red place and even the better lit places, the lights are such an odd colour that it makes filming and deciding apertures and colour grading difficult.

Today was the first day I was entrusted to help change lenses, and I learned that I place them initially too hard, I twist too much and I thought I was doing things just like my boss. I learned that these $15,000 lenses, aren’t like the ones at my school that easily connect to the Canon or BlackMagic cameras. These lenses use a German glass that is basically the best glass in the world, which is interesting since we’re talking so much about German culture.

We also learned that our main focus, Harry, really likes to perform for the camera and makes most of the things we want to film with him very difficult to get the feel wanted for the film. He’s a very nice man, but we also know that he can be very harsh with his employees and those are some of the things that we’re hoping to get, but since he is so aware of the camera anytime we are in his restaurant, we’re not sure to embrace his performance, or try something else.

We mainly filmed B-Roll today which was very tedious, just filming pictures on the walls, servers, bartenders pouring and whatnot. The other difficult thing about this production is that everyone is so friendly and always wants us to either be eating or drinking. This isn’t a problem for me or my boss, but when it comes to our sound man, he can definitely throw back some drinks and that’s clearly a problem.

Today we also sat down after filming and sat with the director and producer and rewrote our schedule and where we wanted to take this film. We also discussed some logistics for the next two days.

All in all, describing what I’m learning is proving to be more and more difficult because I just have so little to compare this whole process to, but what I do know is that once this whole production moves to Post, and I can get another production in, I’m going to realize the differences and be able to really determine what is good and bad that I’m seeing.

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Diamond in the Rough

If you have read any of my previous posts, you might be wondering, “Nick, you seem to HATE serving, why the hell do you continue?”

Well, thats a fantastic question. I rather dislike interacting with humans but, the money in any serving job ends up being rather good. Better than most other jobs I can find, and aside from one of my jobs, management has been exceptionally good to me.

But if thats the case, you might be thinking that I’m just a money whore. While some of that may be true, I do in fact enjoy quite a few people that I end up serving. I also end up hating some, or being completely and utterly indifferent to some customers.

Some tables I know can sense my fakeness, some do and love it, and some do and immediately hate me. I know if I were more extroverted and personable I’d more than likely overall get tipped better.

But Like I’ve said before, not everyone who dines out is an extrovert and in need of loving attention while they get their food.

First of all, we have the regulars. The idea of ever being a regular at a restaurant myself is an terrible, ugly thought, I would never do it. Many regulars I tend to not be fans of at first either.

But there’s often more than one reason why they come in to the same place on the same days, or always order the same thing. I’m someone who likes certain places and visit them often, but hardly ever out of habit, and I’m constantly trying new things. I’m also not personable enough to go somewhere everyday and just make a slew of friends.

Eventually you befriend these people out of habit and learn to enjoy their company. Sometimes some stability in customers can be nice.

One of the regular couples at my old sushi restaurant have actually become good friends of mine outside of the restaurant. In fact every time I go back to visit Chicago, if I don’t let them know I’m coming and try to see them, they would be offended! My last time going back to Chicago they invited me to dinner and drinks, and we ended up hanging out most of the night as they bought me dinner and quite a few drinks.

My all time favourite story about customers is a young couple that came into the sushi restaurant. We exchanged a few witty remarks and I just sort of clicked with them. This does not happen often by any means, but we did and as I asked them if they wanted any dessert, they remarked that they were going to a gelato place nearby.

We began talking about gelato flavours. Theres a particular flavour that I absolutely love more than anything else that I’d had in Peru one time and have not been able to find it elsewhere since.

As they were leaving they jokingly said they’d stop back to the restaurant to bring me some gelato. I certainly didn’t believe that they actually would. But sure enough, about an hour later they came in and had bought me some Gelato!!!

This act of kindness nearly made me cry and is still an experience I cherish to this day.

Fatigue and Rest

We all tend to get tired while working and with serving its no different.

However, there is something particularly draining while serving when one is an introvert. Spending an entire day talking to random people and interacting with different types of people is utterly exhausting.

I fully understand why many servers smoke, I did it for a while just as an escape from people, to take large breaths in solitude and exhale calmly. It is sometimes the only form of solace one get get in a normal shift.

Many days, I am more the capable of spending an entire 12 hour shift of interacting with a whole myriad of types of people. These days I tend to treasure, and often can’t control how they happen, but they most often happen after a good nights rest at the very least.

The one part that can sweep you off your feet is a mistake. Whether it be my mistake or the customers mistake, in which they hardly ever admit, mistakes can really increase anxiety. There have been a few times where due to either a language barrier or just a plain old miscommunication, I’ve made more than one mistake at a table.

When this happens, I’m so incredibly embarrassed I find it hard to go back tot he table, and if I do, words cannot come out of my mouth, and at this point, fuck any sort of eye contact.

It also effects how I feel towards my other tables and instead of trying to be super nice and helpful, I become extremely sheepish and just want to go home, because I refuse to go cry in a bathroom. That also doesn’t help the problem, but exacerbate it.

At my current job I get a 2 hour break in the middle of my shift. Sometimes this is exactly what I need to recharge. Other times, a measly 2 hours is not enough time by myself to collect my thoughts and prepare myself for attempting to make strangers happy to receive payment.

Not only do I have to deal with customers, but also the cooks and other servers. Sometimes I just really don’t feel like talking with anyone, I’m not inherently in a bad mood, I just have nothing to say, and this can occasionally stir up trouble, because friendly servers are always wanting to see whats wrong. And we all know if we say nothing is wrong, and then are asked multiple more times if something is wrong, now there is a problem.

After long days of dealing with people, I’ve found the best medicine for me, is a bottle of wine, my couch, no socks, and a thoughtless show or film that I can just watch and not worry anymore.