So, you’ve got a great independent short film you’re trying to produce. You’ve sorted through the emails, made the necessary phone calls, and shuffled all the actors through the audition. Now that the tedious task of casting is behind you, its time to continue with the rest of your movie.
What do you do next?
Schedule your Shooting Days
Given enough notice, actors and locations should be available. Ultimately, I like to have a shoot date set before casting so I know for sure if the actors I cast are available. If you don’t have a date set, GET A DATE SET! This will help hold you and everyone else in the production accountable to properly prepare for the movie. Without a shoot date, the project will continuously be in preproduction because no one is ever actually “ready” to shoot.
Work with your actors and locations to schedule the right date to shoot. These are the two most important factors to consider when scheduling your movie. Ultimately, you may have to choose between and actor or a location. You won’t be able to please everyone, so stop trying to. Set your date and push forward!
Keep your Actors in the Loop
This sounds like a no brainer, but it happens all the time. Actors know filmmakers are flaky, productions fall through, and things change all the time. If an actor doesn’t hear from you for a few weeks, they may assume you got busted for illegally filming on someones’ property.
Remember, they’re not seeing all the logistical preproduction work that’s going on behind the scenes. Send them an email at least once every two weeks to go over a few aspects of their character and share with them some updates on the film production. Besides, some actors stay extremely busy, so emailing them constantly keeps your production at the forefront of their thoughts. Just don’t annoyingly bug them.
Prepare to Shoot your Movie
This isn’t always the most enjoyable part of a production, but it’s one of the most crucial. Make sure you have everything you need to be successful on the day of the shoot. Depending upon the complexity of your production will depend upon the amount of preproduction you and your team will need to do. Here is a list of a few things to do before walking on set.
Create a shot list. This is a no brainer, but somebody will skip it…
Break down the script. This includes creating a breakdown for each scene in your movie. A scene breakdown will include everything that’s needed for each scene, including cast, props, set dressing, wardrobe, hair/makeup, special effects, special camera/grip/lighting equipment, and any notes related to the scene.
Make sure you have all the necessary items listed in your Scene Breakdown. Again, a no brainer.
Double check and make sure you have all the necessary items listed in your Scene Breakdown. Do you see a pattern here people?!
Find your Crew and cast any additional characters or background talent. It’s the little details that make the movie.
Test your equipment. This includes any cameras and/or lights.
Create your Call Sheet. You’ll send this out to the cast and crew the day before the shoot along with any other pertinent information.
Get a good nights rest before the big day. And make sure you dream of something sweet.
Remember, there is no substitute for proper planning and preparation. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Being a former military soldier, I can attest to this first hand. Take your time and don’t overlook the details because those are what’s going to make your movie great!
As always, check out my Film School Boot Camp for your complete comprehensive educational resource to learning the fundamentals of filmmaking and begin your filmmaking career.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about anything.