Up in the Air - with David Harry Stwart

by JamesNYCJune 22. 2012 05:52

Image Copyright 2012 David Harry Stewart. All rights reserved.

Read the full post on Davids Harry Stewart Blog.

UA Flight 703, seat 10D is my spot in the sky today. I fly often, its part of the gig, sometimes its great, sometimes less so. My main aim when traveling for work is to reduce the brain damage, reduce the stress. Here are some of what I have learned:

1. Sameness. Fly the same airline, the same route, the same flight and if you can, the same seat. This is about getting you from A to B and if you can do it on auto pilot, all the better. Less thinking means less stress. My main route is LAX-JFK. I like the United PS 3 cabin flights. I go for the window. I always set up my area the same, laptop, ipad, copies of American Cinematographer, noise canceling headphones, and my unread New Yorkers. The other thing this will do is get you status with a carrier. Less lines, early boarding, priority for the E rows and the biz upgrades. Hint: you will have a more enjoyable flight on a non-bankrupt airline.

2. Water, drink tons of it. There is something freakishly dehydrating about airline air. I once asked a flight attendant how much water the airline recommends they drink: 1.5 liters on a cross country flight, 2 liters on LAX-London. That is a lot of water. It convinced me that part of the jet-lag fog is actually dehydration. Layoff the alcohol and caffeine. The idea is hit the ground running clearheaded, not buzzed.

3. Food. If you’re are in biz or 1st, you get semi-real food. Otherwise bring your own. Go to Whole Foods and bring yourself something to eat. Pizza and cheese dogs are not food.

4. Bags to NY . Its carry on only. I have an Arri bag from InCase that I love. That plus my Mandarina Duck roll aboard usually does it. The photo assistant gets one small personal bag and also carries some gear. Want to quickly get fired as an assistant on a trip? Show up with a checked bag.

5. Bags to the hinterlands. This means we are going someplace without rental houses. Caribbean, Africa, any US location outside of the big cities. Tokyo, Paris, London, NY, LA, Miami all have good rental gear availability. Try to rent a C-stand anywhere within 100 miles of Boise, it’s not happening, I’ve tried. If you think you need a customs carnet, you probably do. They are a pain, but all you need is one zealous customs guy to wreck your trip. Keep the bags under 75lbs. The rental house boys just love to pack four Pro 7s and heads into one huge 150lb case, but you can’t fly with that. You are probably going to end up with 8-10 cases. Number them and note the contents of each. If you have 3 assistants, everybody puts 3 bags on their ticket and the fees aren’t so bad, especially if you have status with the airline.

6. Drugs. Bring them. I travel with 2 kinds of antibiotics, pain meds, sleep meds, bandaids, tape and really anything that I think I may need. I don’t need them often, but never regret bringing them. Lunesta is my current fav sleep med.

7. Hotels/apartments. I want quiet, I want dark with the shades closed, I want light when they are open, I want a fridge and little kitchen if I can, I want 24 hour room service, and I want a staff that has their shit together. So Ian Schrager, I love you brother, but your hotels are off the list. I have more than once changed hotels after seeing the rooms or witnessing the night club scene in the lobby. This is a work trip, and we need a place that can support our needs, we don’t need entertainment.

8. Exercise. Find a gym, go for a run, take a swim. I use Blink in NY. It costs me $20/month. I use it 2 or 3 times every time I am in NY. I can’t usually go on shoot days, they are too long. But on prep and scout days, I make sure I get in a workout. Its far better at clearing the mind than the double capucino. I have been know to run in the Tuileries in Paris. Even on shoot days, I do 15 minutes of yoga stretching in the morning, and another set in the afternoon. A flexible body leads to a flexible mind.

9. TSA. Ok, we all know its kabuki, very elaborate very expensive government sponsored street theater. But I have decided to have fun with it. They don’t scare me, they amuse me and I want to give them a smile too. I laugh with them, I banter with them, I always call out ” So how are my friends at the TSA doing today?”. If you follow suggestion #1, you will get to know the various screeners, the various machines, the faster lines. Hint: UA out of LAX take the far right lane, it is a metal detector lane not a body scan lane. Out of JFK, depending on the day, its often all lanes body scans. I always go for the pat down. More fun for my tax dollars. For extra amusement try deep loud suggestive breathing while being patted down by a nervous TSA. Good times.

10. Even though we are traveling for work, don’t overly focus on the task at hand. Take photos of the process, of your trip, of your room, the people on the street. You are here for your vision, so keep it active and ready.

Read the full post on Davids Harry Stewart Blog.

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