To Budapest and Back: Key Learnings from Working on set abroad
Innovate By Day recently sent me all the way around the globe to Budapest, Hungary to film EPK (Electronic Press Kit) for a Canadian television series heading into its second season. I had the pleasure of field producing alongside our videographer Andrew Forbes. As you can imagine, Andrew and I were both thrilled to be the team representing Innovate in Budapest. The whole experience was absolutely incredible. The food, the people, the city, the cast and crew – it was all so surreal. We were welcomed with open arms by the whole production team, and we left feeling truly grateful for everything we had achieved, the learnings we took away, and to have met and worked with such lovely people while in Budapest.
Andrew and I will be going back in a few months to capture more digital content during the second block of production. But before heading back, we’ve taken time to reflect on this trip and plan what we can do on the next. Here are five of our key learnings for anyone working on set (both at home and) abroad:
- Get to know the crew
- Even if they don’t speak the same language and even if they don’t know your background, crew people are the same kind of people across the globe. No matter where you are, if you’re in the film and television industry you will have something in common with the people you’re working with. We got to know the crew very well, and it really helped us in the long run. Whether you’re talking to a director, a producer, an AD, or a PA, everyone plays an important role in the production. Find out who is who, introduce yourself and treat everyone with respect. We did this and people were much more inclined to work with us because we were friendly and they knew our role on the series.
- Ask questions
- Ever heard the saying “there’s no such thing as a stupid question”? That rang true for us when we were working abroad. We always wanted to be 100% certain that what we were doing was okay and we were not in anyone’s way. We found it was imperative to take initiative to ask questions, so that we could do our job to the best of our abilities and deliver top-quality work.
- Explore the set
- When you’re looking to interview cast and crew while on set, your time with them is limited and you won’t always be able to set up beforehand. As soon as we got to set, we took a look around and made sure we knew where everything was. When you’re working on the fly, you have to know which locations will work well for interviews in advance because you likely won’t have time to search for them when you’re in the moment. Doing a quick lap of set each morning when we arrived helped us make the most of our time.
- Stay organized
- When you’re travelling, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and lose track of what’s going on back home. We put extra effort into making sure we were staying on top of our emails, taking notes and tracking everything we did while in Hungary, and this came in very handy later when we returned to Canada. Note what you’re capturing throughout the day, so that you can keep your team back home in the loop, and can look back later and know exactly what you did on each day you were away. It was also crucial for us to keep track of all call sheets and scripts that were being distributed so that we knew what to prioritize each day. Organization became key for us as we only had limited time to use as efficiently as possible, so we stayed up-to-date with all production documents and documented everything.
- Embrace the city you’re in
- When we were in Budapest, we did not expect everything would be the same as back home. The food was different, the buildings were different, and the culture was different. Embracing it made it better! Seeing how things were done around the world was an invaluable experience. Soaking up the new culture and immersing ourselves in it made us feel more comfortable overall.
All in all, it’s important to be kind, respectful and hardworking on every set. You never know who might be able to help you, offer you some advice, or point you in the right direction. We saw the importance in working collaboratively and celebrating differences. Andrew and I had a blast in Budapest, and look forward to returning soon!