Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Tour is Almost Over, Scheduling and other stuff

November 2, 2008

I am finishing up the tour and it has been a great one! Thank you all for your support. I am tired, but it has all been worth it. I am in Houston and I’ll be in San Antonio on Monday. That is my last stop, and then I am hitting Phoenix and LA on my way home for some meetings, and to see a couple of old friends. I’ll be home next weekend if all goes well. Let’s just hope the weather gods are smiling and I have decent weather all the way home.

The one thing that continues to stand out on my tours is how hung up people are about being on the set. Filmmakers still seem to think that if you’re not on the set, then you’re not making a movie. They don’t see the importance of Pre-Production.

I always say that the most important part of filmmaking is Pre-Production. If you take you time and do it right you save lots of money on your film, and things go much smoother. In my mind, this is the most important stage in making a film.

I am surprised how many people don’t know how to number a script, break out prop lists, and schedule a shoot. I am always being asked how long does it take to shoot a scene, like there is a magic formula. There isn’t. Every scene is different, depending on location, lighting, are there camera moves and what is the mood of the scene?

How tough is this for the actors? Is it a really emotional scene?

Let’s talk a bit about scheduling…

Never put the final scene, big climactic scenes, or any love scenes early in your shooting schedule if you can avoid it. These scenes are always tough to shoot from an acting standpoint. There's nothing worse than throwing two actors into a love scene early on, and saying, "Okay, take your clothes off in front of strangers and start making love!" It's not going to be a very good scene. Also, if a couple of characters are going to have a major fight with each other, give them time to get into rhythm and character on the set before you demand that they emote their brains out.

Your crew is still getting to know how each other works, and you haven't set up a good working pace yet. Get the cast and crew comfortable with each other before the really tough scenes.

Don't be afraid to have a "closed" set when doing intense scenes. By "closed," I mean only the people who are absolutely necessary. Get other cast and crew members away from where you're actually shooting. You don't want any extra distractions for your actors while they're working on a scene that is uncomfortable for them. This usually happens with love scenes or anything with nudity. Just close the set. Your actors will thank you. Sometimes people not in the scene will be pissed. That's okay, any cast or crew person who gets pissed about a closed set because of nudity shouldn't be there in the first place.

On big movies, other people always do the script breakdown. Assistant directors, some producers or production coordinators. Well, you can't afford that. So get used to doing it yourself. I always work with my DP (Randy Timmerman) because from a photographic standpoint, he knows how long it's going to take to light and shoot various scenes, how fast his crew can move, and what scenes can be lumped together for efficiency. Randy has a great feel for this sort of thing. I keep in mind the order of the scenes, and how tough they will be on the cast, I want to get the most out of the actors. Start small and work up as everyone gets more comfortable working together.

The best way to figure this out is to make short films first. Making short films gives you the experience to know how long it will take to shoot scenes. And most of the time you never figure it out perfectly. Then you adjust your schedule as you shoot. If you are working with an experienced DP, AD, or Production Manager have them work with you on the schedule. And listen to them.

We’ll talk more about scheduling at some other time, I need to get back on the road.

Don’t forget to VOTE!

Other stuff…

I will be posting some Holiday Specials soon on my web site so keep your eyes open for that. The work books are selling very well, isn’t it time you picked up a couple?

Film Baby ( is a sponsor on this tour. If you haven’t checked out their site and their services, you need to do it. They are a great group of people dedicated to helping you get your films out. Also check out my other sponsors, Pollard Design (, Zoom Studio (, The Indy Film Co-op ( and Cheezy Flicks ( All great people and great companies.

The first two Workshop DVDs are up on my site,, (and Film Baby’s). They are selling pretty well out here on the road.

See you on the road.

Talk later.



Post a Comment

<< Home