In my last post, I outlined what I had learned from my first few shoots as a producer for Prod III. Now that my two films have wrapped, here’s some more knowledge I’ve picked up along the way!
Films cost $$$$$$
For Prod III films, production budgets will likely be anywhere between $2,000-$5,000. The school doesn’t provide any funds, so it’s up to the filmmaker (and the producer) to make a money plan. Some directors in my class decided to self fund; others reached out to family to make big donations. However, most turned to a crowdfunding platform. To be completely honest, It feels weird to ask people for money. I personally was a bit uncomfortable with it. However, once you reach out you’d be surprised to see who will support you. Old teachers, professors, second cousins will blast you from the past with their generosity when they see that their filmmaker friend is back at it.
Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two different platforms
One of my films used Kickstarter and the other used Indiegogo, and for different reasons. With Kickstarter, you risk losing all of your funds if you don’t reach your goal by the project deadline. With Indiegogo, you can still keep your funds if you don’t make it. While the “all or nothing” approach to Kickstarter is terrifying, it’s a good motivator. To be honest, I was kind of scared that we wouldn’t make the money two days before my deadline. However, I think that people I talked to about the film were more scared about us losing the money than I was – which made them donate even more to the project!
There’s an easier way to make call sheets!
It’s a producer’s responsibility to plan the shoots and send out call sheets for each shoot. Studiobinder is an app that streamlines the process (I swear I’m not sponsored) . For their $30 a month package, the application will help you with breaking down the script, scheduling shoots, and keeping organized. Once you enter cast and crew contact information, you can import your schedule in and it will automatically make a call sheet based on all of the location, schedule, and other information needed for a particular day. It will then send out a message via email and text and ask everyone to “confirm the message,” so you can make tabs on who gets the memo and who doesn’t. It’s really a breeze!
You will learn to love driving UHaul Vans
Someone is going to have to move the film equipment back and forth from sets to FPS, and you’ll likely be a part of the moving effort. When I moved into Boston, I swore I would never bring a car here. Now, I can say that I’ve parallel parked a UHaul Van in Cambridge during rush hour. I am a fearless driver now, thanks to Prod III
Find someone who owns a car
There will be so many moments when you will have to move groceries or lug equipment half a mile. Having a friend with a car makes those moments so much easier. For half of my shoots I didn’t have a car. They were some of the most difficult shoots. It’s especially good to have around sets in case of emergencies.
Know first aid!
I didn’t have to use it, but I got a certification just in case something were to happen. It’s the producer’s job to make sure the set is safe. It will totally throw you off schedule if someone breaks their arm.
Make your set the set that everyone wants to be on
When you have deadlines to make, it’s easy to get swept away with simply completing everything. However, storytelling is a collaborative process, and everyone should have a good time contributing to the effort. If you’re filming in the cold for 6 hours, take the extra effort to get handwarmers and pizza bagels. Bring blankets and extra jackets so no one freezes. Make sure the food is on time and that there’s something warm for people to drink. Crack jokes. Play music while you wrap and dance around. Take fun pictures to look back on. That type of stuff will do wonders for morale, and that type of energy will be reflected in the quality of work.
Hi everyone! CA Jimmy here to talk about my experiences as a student producer for the FT 468 Production III course. It’s the highest level film production class you can take at BU. Each student applies to the class as a different role – director, editor, production designer, director of photography, sound, etc. (I applied as a producer!). I’m currently working on two very different films:
“The Badge” – a drama about a child who idolizes policemen he sees on TV struggling to reconcile his mother’s criminal streak when she takes him along on a drug deal
“It Came From Above” : a thriller about a sci-fi geek who is visited by a seemingly docile robot from space – and the consequences he faces for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The process has been very demanding, but also very rewarding. Here’s some of what I learned so far.
The Producer is the glue of a production
You’re like the shepherd that keeps everyone on the same page, but also an octopus that has eight arms to do different tasks at different times, but also a Nostradamus that can foresee problems in the future and adjust accordingly. The director has the vision and the story, but the producer must facilitate the circumstances for everything to run smoothly. Scheduling, budgeting, securing locations, and casting are all big responsibilities of the producer. There are also many day to tasks like reaching out to actors, arranging a crew, and checking on progress with the director. You should always be thinking a few steps ahead.
The work will follow you outside the class
80% of the work I’ve done has been out in the field in my own time. It feels great to be professional and achieving stuff in the real world, but it’s also been a lesson in time management when you have to balance 12 other credits of an academic schedule (I had to drop my rowing PDP; sad reacts only).
Email is your best friend and worst enemy
By this point in the semester, my fingertips are just about worn down to the bone. Because it’s the most ~professional~ form of communication, you’ll be emailing nonstop to put the project together. Everyone from actors, to production designers, to location owners, to BU risk management, to rental van agencies, and even random restaurants on campus for donations. For funsies, look at the subject lines of the last few emails I sent today
“Youtube Link—Audition Video”
“MA Law: Minor Work Waiver”
“Prod III Squad Car Follow Up”
“PROD III FILM NEEDS ROBOT ACTOR”
“Filming at the Cottage: Follow Up”
Shooting a scene takes a LOT more time than you’d expect
Who knew that 2 pages of dialogue can take up to 4 hours? I didn’t! When you work at higher levels of production, lighting and camera setup can take up to 30 minutes per shot. This also means that the gear you’re working with is much more higher quality and needs to be taken out in advance.
Food is important
Hungry crew = poor work. Feed your cast and crew good food or there will be a MUTINY on your set.
You’d be surprised how many people are excited to help with a film
For “It Came From Above,” I had to rent an airbnb in the middle of the Massachusetts wilderness. The couple who owned the cottage were absolutely thrilled to have us there, and were just generally excited to meet a film crew. They discounted the rental price, and threw in another trailer for free for our crew to stay in. Movies are cool! If you ask, people are always willing to chip in a little bit to help with something new and exciting to them.
Whether it was at COM Open House, at Orientation, or even at FYSOP, someone has read you their laundry list of Freshmen year advice. You all know to “Surprise your parents with a phonecall,” “Ration your dining points,”etc.. But what about all the stuff that you only learn from years of fighting tooth and nail to score GSU booths? Here’s my niche little list of things to live by.
If you need to charge your laptop in Warren Dining Hall…
There are hidden chargers under the tables against the windows by the front entrance. Like, when you swipe in and go directly left or right. Those windows. I don’t know if it’s common knowledge, but I only found out at the end of my sophomore year. I wish someone would’ve told me earlier 🙂
For all y’all tea drinkers out there…
Rhett’s in the GSU will fill up your re-usable mugs with hot water for free! So if you’re packing your own Teabags or Swiss Miss, you don’t have to spend a dollar more.
If you want GSU Starbucks but not the GSU wait…
Rhett’s also carries Starbucks Pike Roast coffee and Tazo teas. The line for actual GSU Starbucks is always crazy long. So if you just want a quick caffeine
An Uber Pool is usually the cheapest and quickest way to get to Harvard Square.
Taking the T all the way east to Park Street to transfer and head northwest takes 30 minutes longer than it should. Then again, if you’re up for it, the walk down the Esplanade to the heart of Cambridge is a very nice one.
Before you apply for an internship…
Go to COM Career Development and get your resume looked over. All you need to do is make a free appointment. The fifteen minutes with a counselor could save your life from a grammar disaster.
Seriously. People carry around those ridiculous Camelback water bottles for a reason. The first few weeks of school are really hot, and you’ll be sweating a lot.
Google Keep is a godsend!
I found this app in the middle of my freshman year and it really helps keep me organize. It’s great for making bulleted “to-do” lists you check off. There’s also great sticky note and reminder functions. It’s a good substitute for a day planner.
Optimize your walk to class with…
Podcasts! If you didn’t read my last post, I LOVE a good podcast. Recently, I’ve been listening toNPR’s Up First Podcast in the morning to keep me up-to-date on the news. It’s less effort then skimming the newspaper and the light analysis is very nice. The best part: each episode is 10 minutes, which is the exact amount of time it takes to walk to CAS from South Campus.
If the COM Lounge printer is busy…
You can use any of either of the two computer labs on the second floor (if there isn’t a class going on).
Warren Dining Hall has a two-fruit take-out limit.
Max it out. Earn your tuition back in apples, two at a time, baby.
This may be terrible advice, actually…
But Domino’s Pizza takes dining points. Yeah, I think I entered an abusive relationship with Domino’s my freshman year. She hurt me bad, but kept telling me how much she missed me–she’d leave her number at the foot of my door. Although I swore I’d never see her again, I took her back in… Anyways, you would’ve found out eventually.
These are just a few golden nuggets to share. If you’d like some more wisdom, feel free to reach out!
Tired of listening to “Lemonade” on repeat while trudging up and down Commonwealth Avenue? Download some podcasts–more specifically, these film and TV centered podcasts to keep you up to date on trends and personalities!
The Vulture TV Podcast
I follow this one religiously. Based off the TV criticism website, The Vulture TV Podcast has a new episode every week about the most talked about shows and general TV trends. The hosts are powerhouses: Vulture Senior Editor Gazelle Emami, New Yorker and RogerEbert.com TV Critic Matt Zoller Seitz (who is a HUGE name in “TV Theory and Criticism”), and NY Times TV Critic Margaret Lyons. Each one of them is extremely well researched, and knows probably too much about TV. I constantly use it as a litmus test for what I should be watching, what names I should know about for class.
This podcast is also a great way to gradually learn TV history. If you’re a FTV major, it can be intimidating to talk with professors who assume you know and understand the impact of old shows like “Roots,” “Mary Hartman, Mary Harman,” and “The Larry Sanders Show.” The podcast has a bunch of special episodes dedicated to discussing the cultural significance of important programs, so you’ll get those extra points when taking Understanding TV.
Favorite Episode: “What Makes ‘Sesame Street’ Special”
This episode came out the week after PBS announced that “Sesame Street” was moving to HBO and talked about the implications of that decision. They review 48 years of content to discuss every boundary-pushing moment in “Sesame Street” and how important the pastiche of pop culture references is important for making children culturally literate. Full disclosure: I got teary eyed in the dining hall listening them talk about Mr. Hooper’s Death. Well worth the listen.
Austin Film Festival On Story Podcast
As the name implies, this podcast takes panel interviews from the Austin Film Festival and condenses them to a rounded hour format. The guests featured are Film and TV juggernauts and industry legends: Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan, “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, and “The Sopranos’” David chase among many others
Favorite Episode: “Paul Feig”
“Freaks and Geeks” has a special place in my heart. In this episode Feig talks a lot about drawing from his own life, restructuring and heightening real events to highlight the humor for a TV format. He’s also a funny and humbled dude.
Scriptnotes is hosted by John August and Craig Mazin, both accomplished Hollywood screenwriters and script doctors. This podcast was extremely helpful for me when I took Storytelling. With over 300 episodes, the podcast answers questions about formatting and industry standards I didn’t even know existed. They cover TONS of ground. Episode examples include: “The Job of the Writer Producer,” “How to Cut Pages,” and “Egoless Screenwriting.” In every show, they also review fan scripts and give specific advice on air, so you can see their process applied.
Favorite Episode: “Groundhog Day”
They spend the whole episode deconstructing the script to “Groundhog Day” and what makes it so great. I liked “Groundhog Day,” but I never thought THAT deeply about it. It’s pretty awesome.
Nerdist Writer’s Panel
If I told you to, “Listen to a podcast hosted by Netflix’s “Puss and Boots” series screenwriter, I would understand your apprehension. But don’t be fooled. Ben Blacker has tons of industry credits and knows how to elicit really great responses out of talent. Every episode, Blacker brings on a different celebrity writer. The conversations are generally silly, and biographical. Get to know the fun backstories behind favorite writers like John Green, Charlie Day & Glenn Howerton, or Corinne Brinkerhoff (a COM alum!).
Favorite Episode: “#167: Bojack Horseman”
Blacker interviews “Bojack Horseman” series creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and production designer Lisa Hanawalt. They’ve been friends since high school, and their chemistry proves that. The interview itself is very comprehensive. Waksberg gives a lot of insight to the show’s darker moments, and how he balances the cynical philosophy of the show with shameless animal puns. Good stuff.
On Sunday, I saw Hand to God at the SpeakEasy Stage in the South End. It was a play I heard a lot about when it first ran on Broadway, but I never got around to seeing it. This production was thrilling. The small, 200 seat theatre added to the intimacy of the horrifying, grotesque text. All the actors brought their A-game, and I even recognized one of the leads from BUTV10’s Paper Trail.
Overall, the experience cost me $25 and it is something I will never forget. With news of federal Cuts to arts funding and stories of cultural landmarks being shut down, this positive experience made me pledge to keep supporting the local arts scene.
As a college student, I’m always broke too. It’s difficult to allot money to things besides food and necessities. I get it. I often improperly prioritize my spending habits. I’ll refuse to buy a $10 movie ticket, yet spend $25 a week on iced coffee. The little things add up. And it’s disappointing to know that I would much prefer to enrich myself with a performance or new album from a local artist than a caffeine addiction. Sure, it’s easy to find less than legal ways to download music or stream movies, but if you cut the small luxuries and celebrate unique content with your wallet, it benefits that artist and the larger arts community as a whole.
Whether you’re Film & TV, Advertising, PR, Journalism, or any other communications profession, we’re all storytellers, and we should respect anyone who dedicates themselves to the craft–especially those in our immediate community. Here’s a list of ways you can get involved in the Boston Arts scene and celebrate storytellers of every medium.
Great WBTU show featuring local music
Information on discounts you can get with your BUID (including $9 tickets to Brattle Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company and more!)
We’re just around the corner from Winter Break… which means we’re SUPER close to the second half of the year #scary. For some, it may be a reaffirmation of the status quo. But for others, it may be the time to fine tune the image you spent 3 months creating. And for some, it may be time to 180 and reinvent yourself. Nevertheless, here are some tips to make the best of your second semester experience!
Bring back cold winter clothes!
Duh, Jimmy, of course. This one should be a no brainer. But in all seriousness, January and February do get pretty cold and when you’re home, it’s a good idea to bring those extra pairs of gloves and wool socks just in case. Duck boots are a must for trudging through slush.
Don’t be afraid to try new clubs!
Between first and second semester, people come and go and clubs hit a reset button. If you felt like you were uninvolved first semester, this is the perfect time to try something new! For example, both BU On Broadway and Stage Troupe have totally different fall and spring seasons for their shows, which make it easy for any newcomer to hop right on. Explore all the different opportunities and sign up for something you may not have had the time for.
Register for a PDP!
If you’re like me and have absolutely no self-determination when it comes to exercise, PDPs are a great way to force yourself to be active and take the (potentially) long walk to fitrec. You can register for “Physical Development Programs” on the student link for 0.5-2 credits and they range from every topic from ashtanga yoga to fencing to rock climbing to sailing on the Charles and more! My second semester freshman year, I took a “Latin Ballroom Dancing” PDP and learned how to tango. It was one hour a week and super fun! It was low enough of a commitment that I could keep and the pass/fail requirement forced me to keep going.
Meet with COM Undergraduate Affairs!
It’s never a bad idea to check in with the lovely Undergraduate Affairs faculty–they’re honestly the best. But towards the end of second semester, you might be close to completion on your Foundational Requirements. Check in to make sure you’re on the right path with your major and explore the different paths your academic career can take.
Explore the city of Boston!
If you haven’t deviated from the long strip of Commonwealth Avenue, now’s the time. No excuses. There are tons of cool things to do. Catch a midnight showing of a cult movie at Coolidge Corner Theatre! Go ice skating at the Frog Pong in the Boston Common! Laugh at a comedy show at Improv Asylum in the North End! Pretend like you’re a critic at the Museum of Fine Arts or Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (which BU students can get FREE admission)! There’s always something to do, so check the Boston Calendar to see what’s in town for the week.
Halloweekend is coming up soon. And for most people. it’s a time for the spooky and the scary. However, if you’re a Halloweenie like myself and need a from horror films, check out these non-scary seasonal movies!
Shaun of the Dead
Carefully calculated and choreographed comedy though the lens of a buddy comedy gone zombie apocalypse. This is an extremely rewatchable movie. Simon Pegg and Nicholas Frost have great chemistry as apathetic, loveable buds, who at the end of the day, just want to “go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over…” Which is a bit difficult when “this” is a plague of the living dead among their friends and family. Edgar Wright is probably the most skilled modern day comedy director and his first work might be one of his best.
There’s a secret society of people who hold this movie close to their heart. “Hocus Pocus” kids are an underrepresented group. I think we’re all still a little bit shocked as to why Bette Middler is in this and why she works so well. The “I Put a Spell On You” sequence is mindblowing.
An American Werewolf in London
I got to see a midnight showing of this at Coolidge Corner this past weekend. It had super great energy and the audience went crazy for it. Directed by Animal House Director John Landis, the movie takes the tropes of the werewolf genre and turns turns the camp up to 10. A The comic direction is very keen and Landis has an eye for visual comedy (Edgar Wright cites this movie as one of his biggest inspirations!)
DISCLAIMER: This may actually be a LITTLE scary for some people. It wasn’t for me. But it’s important and very good so your inner film major should suck it up give it two thumbs up through the tears.
This is not a good movie. THIS IS NOT A GOOD MOVIE. But it’s a joyride of awful line readings, overacting and a labyrinthine plot to rescue a baby brother. The Jim Henson puppets and production design is incredible. David Bowie’s “Magic Dance” makes me cringe. I think we should all take a moment and give thanks for the fact that the trope of dancing animals in kid’s movies is far less creepy than dancing David Bowie in tight pants in kids movies.
BEETLEJUICE is a blockbuster classic about a newlywed couple who accidentally dies and is forced to spook an intruding family out of their own house. Fun fact, the male lead is the principal from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off! The titular character, BEETLEJUICE, is a scoundrel of a ghoul played by Michael Keaton (a less mopey Birdman). What happens when you say his name three times? I guess you’ll just have to watch BEETLEJUICE to fi–
Supposedly one of the worst movies ever made. I think it’s a gem. It’s hard to believe someone took this project seriously and thought it could ever be a compelling family scary movie. Travel to the mystical world of Nilbog, with a witch who can turn people into vegetables, goblins who thrive off green vegetable goo, and a middle class family just trying to have a fun weekend together.. It’s pretty weird. Highlights include when the writers decided the line, “You can’t pee on hospitality! I won’t allow it!” could pass as realistic dialogue.
The Nighmare Before Christmas
Full disclosure: as a kid, this one scared me too. But now I’ve grown into it. One of the few holiday movies that can double as another holiday movie.
THIS IS HALLOWEEN
THIS IS HALLOWEEN
That is all.
To be completely honest, I haven’t watched this movie in years. This movie helped Disney Channel Original Movie writers create a “Mad Libs” script for movies about kids discovering a supernatural ability (@ The Thirteenth Year, Luck of the Irish, Twitches [WHICH ALSO IS ABOUT A GIRL DISCOVERING WITCH POWERS!!!], . But I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently. The scene with a skeleton taxi driver turning around and speaking to a group of frightened children is iconic. I bet that it would’ve been an Uber driver if the movie was made today…
Fun Fact: When trying to think of broader name for their newly established School of Public Relations, the 1947 Boston University Board of Trustees were stumped. All they they knew was that they really liked the three letters “C,” “O,” and “M.” After failing to arrive at a consensus, they eventually ditched the idea and went with “Boston University College of Communication.” The acronym however, stuck.
After spending INNUMERABLE hours in Mugar doing research, I was able to dig up some of the original contenders. Here they are below:
College of Optional Math
Classes with One Male
Carefully Ornamented Macbooks
Competing for Opportunities and Money
Critical-thinking Overwhelms Me
Compulsively Over-watches Mad Men
CS6 Only, Mom!
Cameras, Overacting, Microphones (oh my!)
Copywriting: Objectively better than Marketing
Care for Overhyped 80’s coming of age Movies?
Continues to Overthink Major
Concise, Objective, and Missing punctuation
Caffeine Over Maintaining sleep
Contemplates the Oscars’ Motives
Convinced OITNB is Magic
Canonize Our Dear Mindy Kaling
(Just to clarify: these are all jokes or hyperbolic observations based off my limited experience as a student in the School of Communication. “COM” is short for “Communication,” obviously)
In college, “Spring Break” connotes one of two possible avenues: crazy whirlwind dream vacations with new friends OR slumming back to the family couch to binge-watch with a vengeance. And for the most of us, the latter hits closer to home
But what you may not have realized is that a good deal of the stars on screen have at one point or another taken the same trek down Commonwealth Avenue we take every day! Take a look at this list of famous actors and actresses who have either enrolled or graduated from Boston University!
Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) attended SFA 3 years, Hon. 1995
Andy Cohen (Project Runway, Millionaire Matchmaker)
Geena Davis (Grey’s Anatomy, Beetlejuice) SFA 1979
Ginnifer Goodwin (Once Upon a Time)
Julianne Moore (Still Alice, The Big Lebowski)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek) no degree, school of education
John Cazale (The Godfather)
Rosie O’Donnell (The Rosie O’Donnell Show) dropped out
Howard Stern (The Howard Stern Show, America’s Got Talent) CGS non-degree program 1974, COM BS 1976
BONUS: Jonathan Goldsmith (The Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World”)