VII: The Impossible Shoot

Completing a film shoot on time and under budget is an act of sheer will.

I won’t be going into the details of what a shoot entails. However, here’s a list of things to watch out for:

  • The tighter the schedule, the lesser the time to think.
  • The more well-planned you are, the more freedom you have to change things while shooting.
  • A professional and experienced group of people will save a lot of time and make lesser mistakes.
  • A crew that knows what’s going on will deliver better than one that is at the mercy of the director’s whims.
  • Actors don’t need to know about production stuff.
  • In a sticky situation, an experienced but average actor will turn out a better performance faster than an inexperienced but talented actor.
  • If you have appointed people for designated jobs, give them the responsibility and trust them to deliver. Don’t micro-manage.
  • Ensure everyone is well-fed and has adequate rest between shifts.
  • Find the time for a pre and post shoot team meeting to ensure everyone’s on the same page. Keep actors away from these meetings.
  • Meet each actor personally and sort out their issues. They need to be able to trust you, and you must earn that trust.
  • Be on time. There’s nothing worse than the producer-director being late or lazy.
  • Always be positive. When the shit hits the fan, the first person everyone’s going to turn to is the director. Be a leader.
  • Don’t let the negativity of certain members affect you. Deal with these issues early, and nip them in the bud.
  • Don’t be afraid to fire people to set an example. Unprofessional-ism should not be tolerated. Ever.
  • Treat everyone with equal respect. Spot boys, lightmen or actor. They are professionals, not servants.
  • Allow others the freedom to come up with new ideas. Try them out if time permits. It might be better than what you had in mind.
  • Don’t be late in your payments. For some people this is a way of doing business. Be the person who stands out.
  • Music on set is a good thing.
  • Humor on set is a fantastic tool. Let it flow.
  • Keep your word and get the job done.
  • I’m sure I’ve missed out on many ideas. But following the above will result in a fun and productive experience – guaranteed.