Summer 2020


Joann "JoJo" Connolly

Streamlining the Juggling Act

By Becca Nadler

2nd AD Joann "JoJo" Connolly doesn't take any part of her work for granted, because she began her career at a traditional nine-to-five desk job. "I worked at a power company for four years," she says. "It makes me appreciate what we do that much more."

Connolly began her film career as a set PA and worked her way up in New Mexico before moving to Atlanta. Her corporate background often informs the organizational aspects of her AD work: "A lot of the skills are the same, in terms of clear-cut communication and being able to execute a plan."

Her prep—on projects such as The Originals, What We Do in the Shadows, Vice and Jumanji: The Next Level—usually involves ensuring that her team's plans are communicated clearly. "I like visual aids," Connolly notes. "If it's a big day, I'll show an overhead map of the minutiae, like where the parking is, so that one person's not the holder of all the knowledge and the whole team can ask questions to the right person."

Prepping her team comprehensively allows Connolly to remain flexible and adaptable during filming days, which she compares to a juggling act: "Twelve hundred million balls in the air and you're just going with it."

Multitasking is imperative when background is involved, as when Connolly needed to fill a basketball arena with 500-700 extras for Showtime, HBO's upcoming L.A. Lakers pilot, while staying on schedule and on budget.

"The idea was that we only dress 125 people," Connolly says, "so anytime you cut to the sidelines, those people will be behind the team." The hundreds of extras seated in the nosebleed sections would be given instructions to style themselves, (with) a check-in station far away from set as a time-saving organizational strategy.

Connolly spent the day "basically windmilling," going back and forth between check-ins, departments, restrooms and craft services to problem solve as needed—"Why is the costume line 50 people long? Let's get them through hair and makeup first; then while they're having their breakfast we'll let this line thin out"—and in constant communication with her AD team and the 1st AD on set so that she could expedite as needed.

"I look at the more organizational aspect," says Connolly. "You just try to keep it all together so that everyone can do their job."

(Photo: Joann Connolly)

At Work With

Short profiles of Guild members in all categories sharing their experiences at work.

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