Working as an Assistant Director Trainee

This post is written by Sanni Juhela who’s worked as an Assistant Director Trainee at Blockbusters Gang from September to November in 2020.

Before my internship began I hoped I would get to learn all kinds of different aspects of the Assistant Director’s job. Now that my internship is coming to an end I feel like that has definitely happened. I’ve got the chance to work in multiple productions and steadily with the help of more experienced AD’s got to try everything from making call sheets and scheduling productions to working on set and directing background actors. Some of these things were completely new to me and felt difficult at first but became easier as I was given many opportunities to practise.

I got to work on the set of two short films produced by Aalto University – Äidin viha and Manian lapset. Both shorts had lovely crews and working atmospheres and although I wasn’t a university student myself I was welcomed with open arms. Night shoots were sometimes slightly draining for me but there too the good atmosphere helped. This showed as a general positive attitude, constant helping of others and for example in the form of dancing (or more like awkwardly flailing around) in between takes to stay warm.

Fortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic had less of an impact on my internship period than what I originally feared it might. Wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer and disinfecting certain objects that needed to be handled by multiple people became routine very quickly and effortlessly. There were a few days when I worked remotely from home but since the guidance for my tasks were clear and help always readily available through phone calls or messages, I quite enjoyed the process.

All in all, this internship has given me a clear and extensive overview of what it is to be an Assistant Director and brought many lovely people to my life that I wish to work with in the future. It has been enlightening to be able to closely follow how experienced assistant directors work and handle various, sometimes unexpected, situations. I’ve enjoyed this journey immensely and will without a doubt be pursuing a career as an AD.

– Sanni