On Packing. Sheri Radel Rosenberg Helps Us Decide What To Pack for Production.

Many of you know Sheri Radel Rosenberg from either freelance art production fame or from her fabulous fashion blog fame.  Well, now you can get to know her on our blog too as she is our newest contributing editor!  Welcome on board Sheri!  If you haven’t discovered her blog yet, be sure to check it and sign up to receive emails for her latest posts.  And, if you haven’t hired her yet as a freelancer, what are you waiting for?  She will make any production a much smoother ride.  That, and she will know exactly what to pack!

thank you Sheri for putting into words what we all needed to read!

On Packing
Contributed by Sheri Radel Rosenberg

If you are an art producer, you are no doubt familiar with the angst and pressure surrounding pre-production, or those two frenzied weeks (or sometimes one week) when sleep is interrupted by thoughts of mood boards, advance checks, and a million other things. It’s such an intense time, and I often find that the weeks before a photoshoot make the actual shoot a piece of cake, depending on how well you plan, i.e. how many hairs fall out of your head or how many glasses of wine you need to fall asleep.

But there’s one thing that stresses me out more than any typo ridden prepro book or creative deviation, and that’s packing for a shoot. Sure, it’s packing in general, but packing for a shoot that is more than 3 days can be absolutely brutal. (Don’t even get me started on transcontinental productions…)

It’s funny because my father-in-law, who has never been overseas, is packing for a trip to Italy with his wife as we speak. They are traveling with another couple, both of whom are seasoned travelers who troll LL Bean, Land’s End, and all the rest looking for strategic pieces that make packing a snap- they are the type that go for two weeks and take a carry-on. My father-in-law is very proud of the fact that he has packed for this journey (yes, already) with one small carry on. For me, I can’t think of anything worse than being in a city like Milan and wearing pants that zip off into cargo shorts, but that’s just me. Unfortunately, fashion and style trump utility. And that right there is my well-heeled albatross, my chic Achilles, and any other cliché you can use to describe a fatal flaw. I am a serial and chronic overpacker.

I remember a shoot back in my Crispin days that’s worth mentioning. A marathon three-week odyssey for VW that, in the weeks prior to the shoot, the shot matrix alone might have sent most mere mortals over the edge, but not me. Because I was more consumed about what to pack.

Back in those days, my comrades and I were of the “work hard, play hard” school of thought. That meant not only did I need outfits for shoot days, but outfits for dinners and drinks out and about in LA. Packing for three weeks when you are rolling with the same people every day is just not easy. So it should not surprise you that as my husband eyeballed my enormous suitcase and rolling duffel situation, he rolled his eyes and said, “who do you think you are, Mariah Carey on a world tour?”

My luggage contained not a single evening gown, fur wrap, or rhinestone encrusted stiletto. Instead, I packed every black tee shirt and tank top I owned, as well as a large variety of cotton dresses (mostly black) that could suit any occasion. As I sat on my bulging suitcase and my confused husband looked at me like I was a complete lunatic, I told him “I have a responsibility to my public. I must bring it on these shoots. If not me, then who?” This roughly translates in reality to “I simply can’t decide what I want, please leave me alone and stop with the judging. “

I packed my favorite production shoes (a hyper splurge made on production at a fancy shop on Abbot Kinney, of the Italian boot variety), my favorite “going out” shoes, my gym shoes, my ballet flats, and everything in between.

I packed hats, jackets, blazers, and jeans. As a producer, I take my hypothetical oath to be prepared for anything and everything very seriously.

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I recently read an article that talked about the joys of packing light, how traveling with a heavy load was a metaphor for how your trip would be- and that packing with a wistful rucksack and lightening one’s load allowed for more spontaneity.

I can’t argue with that, but damned if I have the hardest time deciding what to bring on shoots. I have yet to get it right.

That’s why I was thrilled when a recent freelance job came up with a fun agency to go to LA for two days- to cover the prepro and attend one day of a three day shoot. To me, that is an ideal length of time- sure it’s a long trip back and forth, but I didn’t care about that. All I know is I could travel like a boss with a simple carry on, and be one of those smug people at the airport that sails off the plane, right into a waiting taxi, ready for whatever.

Turns out I ended up staying an extra day and because I’m who I am, I panicked about what to wear the next day, knowing full well I always carry a spare top or pant, just in case. And although I tried to justify a trip to Fred Segal out of my inability to pack enough, sanity won over impulse and I did just fine. And yes, I always pack extra underwear. How can you not? I’m suspicious of anyone who packs just the right amount. That’s just wrong.

And speaking of wrong, my biggest justification when it comes to unnecessary purchases goes something like “this insert expensive item I don’t need would be great for traveling”. Needless to say, I have more bags, scarves, and cashmere sweaters than any person should.

I will say I’ve got some things down to a science when it comes to packing- I have one shirt from the Gap I bought many years ago (again on production) that has elephants all over it that I usually wear on the first day of a shoot, for good luck. I almost always pack my motorcycle jacket, which is black (duh) and thin enough to fold into my suitcase or wear as a layer on the plane. And since I’m no longer a runner of any kind, packing gym clothes is easy- because generally I’m taking a yoga or barre class in between call times, and all one needs for those are a pair of leggings and some sort of tank, which I can also wear on location which is wonderful. That helps a lot, because sneakers take up so much room. Oh, and I’m never without a thin black blazer, because it manages to dress up just about anything when you need something for a client dinner or otherwise. As for the rest, you’re on your own.

And though I’ve studied a multitude of blogs on how to pack, I usually dismiss those adorable collages of great head to toe dressing as nice to look at but “not for me”. Because as a producer, I like to not only be prepared, but keep my options wide open. Photographers carry cameras, I carry clothes. Don’t worry ad agency auditors- I pay my own overweight baggage charges. I take full responsibility for my own actions, and need for options.

To read more from Sheri, check out our favorite post from her own blog.

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