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Reid M Petro Cinematography and filmmaking blog.

7 Steps to an Efficient Production

 

Creating an efficient production is critical to the success of your film. Let’s dive into some practical ways to increase your efficiency on any project so you can create more high quality content!

1. A well articulated & communicated preproduction plan

A well articulated and communicated preproduction plan as you are developing your project saves you time and boosts efficiency on set. Time is much cheaper with your mind and a piece of paper. Experiment with ideas before filming and run the scene through your mind before you get on set. Play the scene out, imagine the blocking in your home, and go through the actions. On a film, you will most likely be working with many collaborators and the more people involved the more you need to articulate your ideas and thoughts. A practical way to express those ideas is references from other commercials or films. Then, add a note to the image that expresses what you like about it. This gives your collaborators a better idea of what is in your mind’s eye. Also, have face to face meetings with the people you are working closely with; at the very least a skype. There is NOTHING more productive then sitting across from someone! When your collaborators are on the same page productions moves more efficiently and saves your time to get more of the content you want.

2. Stay organized

Software like Evernote uses the cloud and can backup to offline mode, so you can take your notes everywhere.

Software like Evernote uses the cloud and can backup to offline mode, so you can take your notes everywhere.

Staying organized with your thoughts and communication between departments is critical to a successful production. Again, I want to clarify, when everyone is on the same page and working toward your single goal, the process becomes streamlined and efficient. A great solution, that works for me, is sharing a google drive folder. It’s simple, free, and effective. You and your collaborators can easily add references, update crew contact, script notes, look books, treatments, etc. I use it all the time. Pro tip, download the production folders in offline mode, and with an iPad, it is easy to pull up anything on set or in a car. Evernote is another great platform. I love its notes feature and the way I can upload, or capture, a photo and tag it with keywords such as “production title” - “location scout” - “skateparkA”. Key wording keeps your images and notes organized and easily accessible on mobile or desktop. However, at the end of the day, it is all about whatever works best for you. Any tools that makes your thoughts more organized and easily accessible it great!

The Google drive folder for the short film    The Acorn   .

The Google drive folder for the short film The Acorn.

3. work with experienced technicians

Gaffer David Lowing from    Lowing Light & Grip    working closely with DoP Tristan Barnard.

Gaffer David Lowing from Lowing Light & Grip working closely with DoP Tristan Barnard.

It takes a lot to run a film set. From the lighting and grip, to the cameras and cranes. The equipment on a set is particular, and you need to make sure that you have experienced technicians in place to operate everything correctly and with precision. Without capable technicians expensive and heavy equipment can be misused, broken, and at the very worst, hurt someone. Not only do qualified grips, electricians, and camera teams reduce risk of issues, they increase efficiency exponentially. This results in more time with the actors and the ability to create more quality content in a given timeframe.

4. surround yourself with collaborators who listen

The producers, director of photography, assistant directors, and art director are some of your most close relationships on set. You will be communicating and collaborating with them a lot. You want to make sure you are surrounded by listeners. People who truly hear you and respond to YOUR ideas. There are people who want to force their perspective and ideas on your project and do this in subtle ways. Be aware of this and work with individuals who truly listen to your vision and want to make that a reality. This eases the friction on set and leads to a more streamlined process creating an efficient set environment.

5. Have the right gear for the job

Behind_the_scenes_fordham_basketball

Having the right gear available for your project is essential to an effective and efficient production. You first need to identify the needs of the production. What is the content you want to capture? Is there a specific shot that you have your mind set on? Communicating these needs and wants to your director of photographer will make sure they have the gear you need to succeed. However, that is just one aspect. Film sets are fragile, challenges pop up, and situations change all the time. It is also about getting the gear for those unforeseen possibilities that may come up. Lean into an experienced director of photography for guidance through the unknowns and the challenges that may present themselves. Having the gear to accommodate any situation is going to make your production efficient and run smoothly.

6. Maximize your use of a single location

By utilizing a single location for many scenes and looks you save time and create more quality content. This can be done in many ways, but when you are looking for locations to film in, be on the search for multiple looks. Can you turn around 180 degrees and get a new scene? Is there a building within walking distance that would work for X or Y scene? Can you use the art department to repurpose a space for multiple uses? What if you rewrote a scene or two to maximize the use of a certain location? Would it be possible to convey the same story note in a more efficient way by utilizing more of the same location? Productions waste a lot of time by moving gear and personal from one location to the next. When you limit the amount you have to move you have more time to get the content you want and need.

7. Go wireless or go home…

Teradek wireless video monitoring give your production freedom and flexibility. DoP Rachel Morrison communicating on set using wireless clear-com system.

Teradek wireless video monitoring give your production freedom and flexibility. DoP Rachel Morrison communicating on set using wireless clear-com system.

It’s 2019 and most of our life is wireless. Why is your film set still in the stone age? Cords are a hassle and slow down the production, period. There are many solutions available that transmit video, crew communication, and lighting controls wirelessly. Less wires means less moving around, which translates to more a more efficient production. Some great solutions include Teradek for video monitoring, Clear-Com for crew communication, and astera titan tubes for lighting. These tools give you the flexibility to be fluid and efficient. Making life on set faster, less stressful, and way more efficient.

What was the most helpful point to you? Was the article insightful in any way? Is there anything I missed? I would love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below.