“The palest ink is better than the strongest memory” I recently met this chinese proverb, but I have already seen the truth of it many times before. On set, in the rental, everywhere.
I saw it in myself when I started out, and I usually see it on my young colleagues regularly . We try to look professional and seem “ready” by not writing things down. Saying and thinking things like “of course I will remember to do that”.
But then the human mind fails us. Scientists also say, that our memory is not reliable, especially with the details.
Unfortunately for this, as I experienced it by now: our industry is all about the little details.
If you forget just one word from your task description, all your efforts to do the task might end up in the bin.
Most of the times when someone asks us to do something, each word is important in what they say. Often very little things can make a huge difference in meaning.
But of course there is also the chance of forgetting the whole task completely.
Above all that, even if you take notes, you can still forget things.
For example you write the task down, and you know you will only need to do it later. But by the time tha task is due, you still have not checked your notepad again. There was nothing to remind you to do the task, although you wrote it down.
So we forget details, sometimes whole tasks, and even if we write them down it might happen.
Notetaking only works if you trust your system. And you only trust it if its easy to use, you know that every detail is in there, and that it will remind you before a task is due.
This is what a notes system should accomplish, but its up to you to find one that works for you.
Google “note taking systems” for clever ideas you can build from. Some people do it on an extreme level 😀
But there is one important thing you have to do with your own system.
You need to get into a habit of checking your notes regularly and often enough.
And even when you know there is nothing new in there.
This way you can avoid missing a due-time on your written down do-it-later tasks.
P.s.: on set, paper and pen is the quickest way. Gadgets and apps tend to freeze, switch off, their batteries die, don’t load fast enough, forget to save your data, get wet and short circuit.
I am a DP on smaller projects, camera trainee and lately 2nd AC on large budgets, and also freelancing for Arri Rental as a prep tech.
On the side, I got interested in some rarely mentioned topics in film industry. We've got tons of resources on the artistic and technical side of filmmaking, but zero amount on teamwork, leadership, career, communication, freelancing, etc.
To support my research and to be able to help other people as well on these subjects, I started practicing public speaking at Toastmasters and learned coaching from an ICF accredited institute in the US.