Monday, May 28, 2012

Who Do I Shoot First?

          Who…and where and with what is more like it. Professor Plum?  In the Library?  With a Steadycam?  Creating a shot list and schedule for filming is crucial to a smooth and successful shoot: the shot list and schedule details who needs to be on set, when, and what they’ll be doing.  In short, it’s the agenda for your production. Unfortunately, it’s also like trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle with too many sides.

          On one side, you have your locations and the dates you have to use them.  Usually, that’s in concrete.  However, within each day, there is the question of what rooms and in what order to shoot them.  You want to shoot all the lobby scenes together, so you don’t have to waste time moving the crew and equipment, but…

          …you also don’t want to schedule anyone—including actors—if you’re not going to make good use of them.  So if there are five  lobby scenes, but different actors are in each scene, what are you going to sacrifice?   You’re paying a day rate for everyone to be there whether they are involved in one scene or ten; the obvious goal as a producer is to maximize the work you get for your dollar.   So do you shoot the lobby scenes and pay actors to be on set for only one scene, or do you arrange the day around the actors and have them working the whole time, but moving the crew and equipment?  You end up going with what’s cheaper: your cast or your crew and equipment.  On smaller films, the camera and crew generally cost more, so you’ll often have actors hanging round all day.  They’re idle and bored and...and you’re paying them a full day’s rate for less than a full day on camera.

          And then there’s the question of off-camera time.  Does your actress have a shower or swimming pool scene?  She’ll need time to blow dry her hair and get prepped for the next scene.  Does your actor need three days of beard growth for a scene?  When is he going to get the days off to do that without ruining other scenes?  And the list can go on.

          So what do you do?  You put all the variables into each decision for each shot and then for each transition between shots and then for each day as it butts up against the next.  And, if you’ve done your job right, you should have a fairly smooth production.

          Or you’ll have a fairly memorable lesson learned.

 If you’re reading this and you’d like to help out with my current project, click on the link below and donate securely through PayPal. You can be a producer and help make “Deadly Revisions”--a new psychological thriller/horror film starring Bill Oberst Jr.  Check out the teaser trailer. You could even be in the movie!  I promise to have a decent shot list! 

The original teaser trailer:

For more info or to donate to DEADLY REVISIONS the movie:

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