Jimmy: Producer Tales From Prod III: Part Two

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.

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