For those of you who may be unaffiliated with the process of making films, there’s a lot more that goes into the pre-production process then just hiring a few people and finding a cast. I’ve been working on films, television shows, tv spots, music videos, etc for many years, and one thing I’ve learned in all that time is that the amount of time, energy, detail and focus you put into your pre-production process, the better a film you always seem to have in the end. There’s a lot of logic in that, to put it simply, if you solve as many of the “potential” problems or issues (that you can think of) which may arise with the production in advance of it actually starting, then you’ll have a much smoother, more relaxed, more focused shoot when you actually get there. That, and you can then spend your time focusing on solving all those unexpected issues that arise once you actually start and not deal with those on TOP of the one’s that could have been prevented. There will always be unknowns in a shoot, pre-production is a time to address as many of them as you can manage in advance of actually wasting production time/money or even risking the film itself in the process. Having a highly talented, detail-oriented Production Manager (or “Line Producer”) is key to getting things done on time and done right.
Since my trip out east in June, Hannah (our Line Producer for 40M) and I have been meeting regularly, continuing to work through all of the thousands of details of the production, ranging from contracts and permits, to catering, equipment & trailer rentals, and that of course, the all-important “production/shooting schedule”.
The Production Schedule is one of the single trickiest parts of pre-production, and one of the most important elements to get exactly right. The thing with the schedule is that if you’re off even slightly in any one area (or you forget one of the simplest details) the film may end up not getting finished, by going way over time and budget or simply get canceled half-way through production for any number of reasons.
In order to avoid potential problems/conflicts, here are just a few of the hundreds of things we take into account when working through the schedule: the budget we have to work with, the amount of time we need to shoot the film, the cost of rentals (equipment, trailers, catering etc), cost/time of hiring cast & crew, time of year (amount of daylight in a day), weather, temperature, national holidays, permits, each individual location’s requirements (some can only be used on specific days of the week or even at specific times of year), hotels and transportation requirements/distances, and the list goes on and on… not to mention that since we now also have “minors” (someone under the age of 18) cast in the film, it complicates things even more (since they can only work a specific amount of hours each day, among other limitations) and has forced us to re-work our already highly compacted shoot-schedule. As if that wasn’t complicated enough, we realized shortly after we set the final shoot dates that the film is shooting straight through my own film festival (the Cincinnati (Oxford) Film Festival – which I founded several years ago), so we’ve had to make exceptions on specific shoot days to allow me to attend specific events for which I (and several of my crew) are required. Hopefully that at least gives you a general idea of the complexity of the production, and that’s just the schedule!
Even with all that said, pre-production is going very smoothly, right on time. I’m excited to see things start coming together one step at a time. More updates soon.