Finishing a script is a huge achievement. Over the past few months or years you’ve dominated conversations with this “great new script” you’re working on, written in every local café to get inspiration, scribbled on napkins, or the back of your hand when a sudden idea comes, destroyed your body clock by many late nights re-writing and survived the grueling process of getting feedback.
Unfortunately your script is absolutely nothing unless you actually get it filmed. So you HAVE to break up with your computer and start getting people involved to bring it off the page. So here is how we did it for ‘Beehive’.
Being realistic and resourceful
Finding a crew for a low-budget, low pay, independent film can be a challenge. I recently blogged about the importance of networking, It’s times like this where all the favours you’ve done for others, your contacts and previous set experience comes in handy. The more people you know in the industry, the easier it is to pull together a strong team for your film. Especially if you have to ask them to volunteer their time.
Something to keep in mind when people are volunteering is to completely appreciate and recognise that they are not only giving their time for free for your vision, but they may also be giving up other opportunities to make themselves available. In some cases a ‘can’t miss’ opportunity may come up for them and you may have to take it on the chin if they have to jump ship and take up another job. Try if you can to be prepared for these sorts of things. Most crew, will let you know if they will need to take up another offer if it comes along, which helps.
Finding our core crew
The first step is to pull together the heads of departments; a Producer, Director, Cinematographer and Production Designer. These are such critical roles and picking the right people can make or break the success of your film.
I knew as the executive producer, I needed someone who I could trust as producer. A producer essentially pulls together the entire film, from sourcing crew, locations, permissions, overseeing the shoot right through to post production; sourcing funding, marketing and getting the film to festivals. So deciding who is going to take your script and make your film a success shouldn’t be done lightly.
For me I was very fortunate. I had worked on over 6 different film projects within the year with Chlow Lawrence-Hartcher. This meant I was aware of how hard she worked, her work ethic, her approach to projects, her experience and her high standards. I approached Chloe with the specifics.
“I have a film. This is my budget and how I hope to go ahead from here.”
We took a few weeks to think over directors we had worked with in the past. We knew that we needed a director who would be able to handle the deeper emotional elements of the story as well as embrace the artistic and stylized side.
So we came across Alastair Wharton. We had each worked with him in the past and after talking about the project with him he seemed to have a very mature understanding of it.
I had already decided that I wanted to be the cinematographer, I selfishly wrote the film partially for that opportunity, so we didn’t have any issues filling that role 🙂
I had particularly wanted to do a film of this style to push myself in regards to lighting and my film style.
And so it was, we had our key three crew.
Finding the rest of the team
In the lead up to Christmas, the three of us got together and discussed the team we had in mind. Most of them we had worked with before and we knew that they would be fabulous and great assets to have with us. Alastair agreed to the list Chloe and I had come up with and so we began to make enquiries.
It took longer than expected to lock people in. Because of the time of year it was much harder to get in touch with people. Eventually we pretty much got most of our dream team, though of course some were unavailable. This threw a slight spanner in the works but we counted ourselves lucky with the crew we had managed so far.
We then chatted to various contacts we had for their own recommendations of people they knew. We also put a call out on social media for applications of interest. Eventually we found some newcomers which we were thrilled to bring to the family and to have a chance to work with for the first time. (To meet the full team click here).
The benefit to the crew
It was important to me that everyone on the team, camera assistants, art department, costume design, sound, were given every opportunity and encouragement to take charge of their role and bring their own pizzaz to it. I wanted to make this a fun, creative and stimulating project for them to grow with.
All new filmmakers are lured into projects that will be a “great opportunity for experience” with a promise of a credit. Unfortunately you can only say this for so long until the crew you need already are experienced and are trying to make a living off their passion.
I have read of a great trifecta for why creative people should consider taking on a job. It should be at least two of the following three things. Paid, Stimulating or experience. For example; I don’t mind doing something for free if it’s creatively stimulating and good experience. (See Living With A Creative Mind below.)
I had saved for some time to raise a budget to fund the expenses of the film but also saved some extra so that each department had funds to play with. I felt that, even though it was a difficult expense for myself, it was a necessary but very beneficial one. In most cases, low-budget independent films don’t have a budget for art dept, camera, hair and make up. So it is a huge strain on the team who are already volunteering their time as it means that as well as that they have to also run around and source things for free; costumes, locations, set dressing, props, you name it. Quite often a talented team will pull together a masterpiece.
I felt that this time we could have gone down that road, but as I myself wanted to film on something other than a DSLR for a change, I wanted to give the other departments something as well. It would be in everyone’s best interests for there to be a small budget. To make their lives easier but also give them a chance to push their creativity.
I feel I made a good decision and that from what I have seen of the film so far, it was worth every penny.
Living With A Creative Mind – An operating handbook for creative people. An inspiring and encouraging book
Starnow – A free Australian/New Zealand website where you can advertise roles as well as search for job opportunities
Screenhub – Includes the latest news in the film industry but is also a professional site for Job/crew notifications. However you need to be a member.
Calling All Crew – An Australian based crewing agency. You can contact their trainees. This could be an opportunity to find people looking for experience.
Top Technicians – If you get really stuck and can afford it, Top Technicians is one of Australias leading crewing agencies. You could try to find a volunteer or discount rate, but generally these are professionals.
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“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”