In film school you generally ended up being a one person film crew. Writer, director, producer cinematographer, first ad, editor… the list goes on. Now out of school, I had finally assembled a crew for my new film Beehive, but I had to actually figure out the most effective way to get everyone started and taking ownership over their own departments.
Before Chloe Lawrence Hartcher (Producer), Alastair Wharton (Director) and I (Writer, Cinematographer, Exec-Producer) started talking to the crew we came up with a pre-production plan. We had a lot to arrange and a lot of people to share the workload around. Of course the plan was even more important as it gave us deadlines to work towards as well as an indication of things that needed to be done by certain dates as some jobs couldn’t be started until another had been finished.For example we couldn’t lock in costumes until after we had our cast which we couldn’t have until we had held auditions that we couldn’t host until we had posted an ad seeking actors.
This is an example of quite a complicated pre-production schedule that I did in 2010 for Pixie Rose and Johnny Sienna, a short film set in the 1950’s, where I had to do everything myself. So having a team for Beehive, a film with strong 1960’s production design, was an absolute dream!
Once we had broken down all of the jobs that had to be done we then spoke to our heads of departments one at a time, Cinematography, Producing and Art Department. Each of these meetings covered what needed to be done and we discussed ways that they could be achieved as well as any new ideas.
It was then their job to meet with their teams and break up the workload even further. So for Art Department, our production designer Diva Abrahamian had a meeting with the director and cinematographer then went to her costume stylist and the head of makeup to pass on what looks we had all decided we wanted and then she oversaw the progress of getting that departments jobs checked off.
It sounds like it should be the easiest part of making a film; telling others what you need and they run off and get it done for you. Well, it’s more complicated than that. It takes a lot of communication; Emails, phone calls, one on one meetings and more emails. Communication can get messy, either you have no communication and people getting stressed or things are being over communicated, or communicated wrong. It’s definitely an art to making sure you are doing things right and not wasting time.
Overall I was very VERY happy to have a team around me. As I have said in previous posts it took me a little time to get used to it but it is obviously necessary to be able to work as a team if you are going to make it in the industry.
If there was one thing that I would do differently, it would be to establish a clear communication system from the start. Find out how everyone likes to work and come up with a structure for how this particular project is going to work. There were times where I felt I didn’t know what was going on and I got stressed and upset. What I didn’t know was that the person responsible thought they were doing me a favour by not overwhelming me with emails and updates and preferred to block larger amounts of info in fewer emails. They couldn’t understand why I was getting stressed and I couldn’t understand why they were upset with all my hassling for information. If we had talked about it at the start we could have saved a lot of stress and may have been more efficient.
So keep that in mind, communication is very very important!
Tune in next week!
So much went on in the pre production stage so I’m going to break down how each department was handled in future posts so stay tuned!
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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.”