Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Order Of The Day

Back when I was working in soaps, the day was practically ruled by a one-page (and eventually, multi-page) document called the the Order of the Day. It listed scenes to be shot, including page numbers, actors involved, sets to be used, and fictional time of day. By the end of a production day, each department's copies of the document were marked up differently. The PAs indicated when set of scenes and actors were finished. The producers might have notes about why certain scenes had taken longer to do, production problems that lengthened the day, or actor notes to remember for future. The costume and wardrobe department would have indications about costume changes, while the stage managers might have information about blocking and actors to call in preparation for certain groups of scenes. So, while it was a document generated ahead of the day, it was a "work in progress" all day, to the point that it might even be rearranged to accommodate unexpected changes or delays. Even after the fact, the Order of the Day might provide insight useful for future production days.

It has been a long time since my day was governed by an Order of the Day. On some shoots, there has been a Call Sheet, a similar, but not identical, document. But most days, whether in life or at work, the order of my day is unscripted, a minute-to-minute process for which there is no roadmap and of which there is little after-the-fact documentation.

There are days when I revel in the lack of structure. My actions are not forced by a piece of paper generated by someone else. My day can flow as it does, without the feeling of always trying to keep up with "what should be." Some days, however, I long for an Order of the Day I can follow, one that will hold me accountable for accomplishing a certain number of things by a certain time. One that could help me to anticipate the people I'd be seeing and the locations and props I'd be needing. For me, this Order of the Day could even include the "nap item" about which we always joked (working at night makes a daytime nap not just a luxury, but a necessity).

For now, I manage my days without such a document. Do things fall through the cracks? Probably. Am I missing out on the perspective I might gain from analyzing them after the fact? Perhaps. Is my day-to-day life far less efficient than the production of a daytime soap? Practically without question. We can't always have a roadmap for our days--sometimes our Order of the Day is simply the steps we take as we take them, and the choices we make in the moment. And we just have to do the best we can scribbling, and anticipating, and knowing when to say "moving on." Because some things that used to be just don't live forever...yet, somehow, we live on without them.

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