Life can teach you about filmmaking even when you’re not making films… here are 3 things I learned from racing sailboats:
1. Hire the right team & rely on them
The right team on a racing sailboat is made up of people with differing skills and specialities. With the right folk on the bow, mast, jib trim, main & traveller, winches, helm, navigating, and so on, the boat races efficiently… creating magic as it harnesses the power of the wind. The crew rely on each other – maybe taking input from each other – but each specialist has a responsibility to their job in order to support the entire crew. Sounds familar to a set and film crew?
2. Food is essential
Long distance sailboat racing reveals how critical good food is to the crew and therefore to the boat. With 4-hour watches, a racing member’s waking hours revolves around sailing the boat, taking care of nature and eating. That’s a lot of focus on very few topics for a very long time. After 3 days sailing the Mackinaw race, you’ll hear the various crews in the bar minutes after the race one-upping each other about what they ate during the race, just as much as you’ll hear them brag about winning tactics and manoeuvres. Set crews need good food and craft service just as much to keep their focus.
3. If you always follow the leader… you will never be the leader
If you can see the back end of the boat in front of you, you’ll never pass it; the other boat has the clean air. You have to try different wind, different tactics. Not just to be different – you still have to put thought into your “different” strategy. But only then may you have the chance to pass the leader and win the race. In film you can copy what’s already been done, or you can try something new… not for the sake of being new, but with thought, forge a new path that is uniquely you. That’s has to be a winning strategy no matter what happens – you’ll be true to yourself.
Fair winds and a good shoot to you!