AJ Unitas is a Content Specialist for StudioBinder, a film production management platform for creating shooting schedules, shot lists, call sheets, storyboards, and more.
Making films isn’t always as much fun as watching them. Actors can prove difficult to work with, you can run out of coffee on set, and more often than not, the shooting schedule can be brutal. Whether it’s too demanding or just plain long, a poorly crafted shooting schedule can cast a shadow over your entire production, resulting in less-than-ideal outcomes.
While you always have to schedule as efficiently as possible, these shooting-schedule hacks can keep your production’s spirits high without going into overtime.
1. Start your schedule with an easy scene
You know that feeling when you cross something off your to-do list? Give it to your cast and crew every day. By starting off with an easy scene, you help everyone gain confidence that can carry them into the rest of the day’s shooting schedule. Easy scenes also allow actors to warm up and get into character before the more difficult daunting scenes to come.
Do this on a macro level as well, by front loading your schedule with easy tasks. This will make everyone showing up at 5am feel like their time is valuable. First impressions are hard to change and you want to give your cast and crew the impression that the shot will be a breeze. Be sure to keep multiple drafts of the shooting schedule as you play around with this.
2. Go chronologically (whenever possible)
Shooting scenes out of order is often necessary to keep a tight budget. However, if you can, try to shoot your project in order. Not only does this keeps continuity simpler, but it also allows your cast and crew to experience the story sequentially, letting the story unfold and building excitement.
Chronological shooting should always be placed below logistics. However, if you can afford to switch around a few scenes, or have secured a location for a nice chunk of time, do your best to move in order.
3. Set milestones
Does your project have a big, pyrotechnic explosion? A dramatic death scene for the ages? Complex film blocking you intend to capture in a Birdman-esque single take? Sprinkle these moments throughout your shooting schedule to build up the excitement on set.
As everyone amps up for the milestones, what would have been difficult scenes to get through can gain unexpected energy. When they go off without a hitch, your entire production feels a sense of pride and accomplishment. It also gives each department a moment to show off and shine.
Overall, remember that shooting schedules are not merely logistical. They can be art. By carefully designing a schedule that brings out the best of your crew, you can directly impact the quality of your project.
With a tool like StudioBinder, it’s easy to create multiple drafts of your shooting schedule as you find ways to build morale. Just import your screenplay and move around your scenes on a stripboard as you go.