Set life is…a lot. More often than not, it requires you to spend all-day everyday away from the comfort of your couch and another episode of Friends. Which is why as a filmmaker it’s key to have some go-to creature comforts to keep you sane. We asked The Bisexual writer/director/star Desiree Akhavan to write down a few of her must-haves during production, and, truly, we’ve never felt so seen.
A utilitarian-looking bag that seems like it’s housing gear, but is actually filled with a disturbing amount of snacks
Desiree Akhavan: For some reason they don’t do craft services in the UK, so when I’m shooting there I bring my own stash. My personal brand of socially acceptable eating disorder-lite means that everything I consume has to be sold like it’s going to enhance your quality of life in some way. This coconut milk CBD saffron-infused energy bar makes your KIND bar look like prison food.
Why don’t I just eat during the specified meal times, you ask? First of all, how dare you judge my food intake—this is a safe space. Second of all, lunch is when I nap.
Shooting is fucking exhausting and once the initial adrenaline of the fact that it’s actually happening wears off, I find that I’m living one nap to the next. By week three, I’m usually napping during lunch. I usually shoot on location and have no choice but to nap in a storage closet (shout-out to the roomy one I found at the downtown pre-school where we shot the kids filmmaking course in Appropriate Behavior) or sometimes on a hot set, which is always fun for the art department (sorry art dept). On The Bisexual, I spent a few lunches curled up in Sadie and Leila’s bed. Then I was woken up, told to take my clothes off, and instructed to remain in that bed to shoot a scene.
Someone to text your mom back
I tend to full-on ghost the world when I'm shooting, including my poor family. I would like to be better, but on set, a phone feels absurd and useless in my hands like, "What the fuck does this have to say that it thinks is so urgent?"
On The Bisexual, I didn’t have an assistant and I like to blame that for the gradual emotional breakdown that occurred over the seven weeks we shot the show that I have yet to snap out of. On The Miseducation of Cameron Post, I was gifted Esmerelda Momferratou by a higher power (aka Ira Sachs, who had just worked with her on Little Men). She not only enabled normal human function/stopped my mother from putting out a missing persons report, she was also one of the smartest voices in the room and a major contributor to what ended up on screen.
Zojirushi travel mugs
You’ll lose it 30 minutes into the day, but once you find it 11 hours later, your coffee will still be hot.
A fanny pack
Finding the one that's right for you and the bo$$ aesthetic you're looking to cultivate with your set "lewks" will be a fun/obsessive source of mild panic that distracts you from the work that needs to get done during prep! After years of casual searching, I spent way too much money on mine at Rachel Comey, which might have been stupid because I got it right before shooting in the desert. When you're stuck in that kind of heat, the idea of anything attached to your body feels like torture. Just go to REI and get something neon because then you can spot it when you lose it five minutes into moving to a new location. Find one that’s big enough to hold your sides, a pen, a phone and whatever anxiety meds you can get your hands on (but no larger than that because it'll weigh you down and then you might as well be wearing a backpack, and the backpack is where your snacks go).