Djibouti Diaries, part #3: Wrap

Irregular blog series of Iiris’ thoughts and travels in Djibouti filming upcoming feature “The Grave Digger” by Bufo, Pyramide Production and Twenty Twenty Vision. 

This text was written on 3rd November, 3 days after final shooting day of the film.

There are multiple different phases on film production. Even within shooting period I can feel the crew and cast going through different periods – beginnings excitement, half way boredom, crashing point just before the emotional end. Of course, Africa brought us all close to many different feelings and thoughts during this time. We’re westerns used to the western way of life and on some things it was very hard to accept our workflow seemed to be impossible every day. In the end it very much felt on some levels we all were very happy and relieved to see the filming coming to its end. At the same time many of us felt some sadness too – things never are black and white. Even though something might be extremely draining and difficult you might miss all other aspects of the work.

For me wrapping a feature or series is always a personal challenge. Wrap seems to be far away for a very long time and it’s thought of as a massive relief and celebration. However it usually isn’t that for me – I love my work and I’m devoted to give my best every day. Especially when getting tired I’m hooked to the idea of ”there’s always a possibility to try harder and do better tomorrow / on the next scene / after the next shot”. Suddenly realising there isn’t any more possibilities to do better I get very quiet and speculative of all my former work. Did I do my best? How much more would there have been? What if I would have done these things that way or reacted on those incidents differently? How much will my work be seen on the end result? 

Besides this there’s always the famous freelancers fear of not getting any other projects ever again. This is funny as I’ve already declined half a dozen offers. But still this hits me and questions if I made the right choises earlier this fall. How long am I able to wait for the right offer? 

And in the end there’s the devastation of not working for a while. I seriously know I NEED TO have a break but still I feel like I don’t want to. I scroll through my unread emails and circle thoughts of the coming months in my head. All the nice things I can do on my free time mostly include different company projects I want to proceed with. I get excited while reading of films, watching films, hearing stories of other sets and projects. I’m gathering more energy to start with something new. 

And with all this storming in my head I’m always emotional of leaving some kind of a family behind. Filmmaking is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced in my life. My workmates sometimes become very dear to me. There are exceptionally many I get to call my friends. It’s hard to let go of being together daily and doing something towards the same goal. And of course more than anything this feels very hard on shoots abroad when knowing there are many people I never get to see again. I’m a sensitive person and small nice things can surprisingly easily become important to me. 

Our last shooting day was hard and team was tired. Schedule wise it felt one of the hardest of all and I think it showed on my work towards the end of the day. As always on the last day yelling ”IT’S A WRAP!” didn’t feel any more special than on any other day though it was. Me and Paula went around most of the crew (how is it that you always miss some people on wrap?) and thanked them while Paula was trying to get everyone on the right car and off to hotel that was one hour away from our set. At the hotel we drank couple of drinks and I went to bed quite soon – I wasn’t in the mood for a crazy party. It had been an exhausting day and our local crew had gone to their homes already. 

Most of the crew left home day before me as I continued to my holiday straight from Djibouti. It was a good decision though at some point I was doubting spending extra time here – I had my moment to sit down and quietly thing about my time in here. Say goodbye in a very boring way probably, but it suited me well. 

On a plane to Dubai I summed up my last thoughts on the only blog post I was able to work on during the one month of filming. I wished I’d been able to write three or four – didn’t happen. Luckily it was due to rare occasion of having couple of very nice people on the crew with whom I spent my free time on DJI. This is exceptional for me as usually I’m not really hanging with the crew outside the set. I’m an introvert, very keen on doing my work perfectly, having hard time letting go of it and relax with my workmates. It’s very usual I don’t participate evening gatherings and drinks together – to be honest people also forget to invite me. That’s a part many HOD’s need to play too. I haven’t really felt bad for it but during this time I fully enjoyed this other experience.

And now I’m off to see my Dubai family – also met through work (B-camera Operator of my first film filmed in 2007-2008 who later hired Emma to his gaming company for promotion on Dubai Comic Con in 2015 and Videographer we met through our former adventures in UAE). They’ve both been very important to me and seen me at my weakest at some point of our friendship. Again I remember how deeply I appreciate friendships.

And that brings a big thought to my head after these weeks in DJI. What really struck me was the community people here had. They were very concious of what’s happening around them. They were helping each other on daily ”no biggie” tasks without really thinking about it. I was afraid of seeing orphaned kids on streets alone (because I thought I’d never be able to leave them there) – and I never did. They were never really alone. They always had friends around. 

I wish I could bring a piece of that togetherness with me to Finland and give them a piece twice as big of the resources we all have growing up and living our lives here.