Here are my notes from yesterday’s 4 hour pre-production class. Most are the instructors points below, however mixed in is some of my own commentary.
Main take-away #1: We have much to think through before filming. The more time we spend on storyboarding/shot list the better. This will drive how effective we will be during filming.
Main take-away #2: We have a lot of advantages already built in. Most of these advantage stem from two things. First, because of FFNL many of us have worked together. FNNL has taught us a butt-load of stuff one must think about for the pre-production and production side. This I found very encouraging. Second, since we know and are in control of locations this helps planning and shooting tremendoulsy. We do need to think out how to make “Shoot days” not a pain-in-the-ass for the residents. First rule of locations is don’t burn bridges, meaning, don’t leave a mess. Another lesson FFNL has given us, no?
The Roles matter
Producer: Essentially Head Gopher Orangizer and person with ultimate decision authority. This role will be often tempted to get in Directors way and should be avoided. However, the producer is the one who will be able to “speak bluntly” to the director when needed.
The Director: Instructor emphazied the need to have one person’s vision and this is that role. Too many decisions to be made otherwise. I wonder if this applies to us. With our common past in FFNL, we have learned to have different directors for different skits. Perhaps we can make the writer for each episode the “Assitant Director” for each episode. However, I do think we need one main director for series. Hopefully someone not too involved with other projects?
Assitant Director: Essentially director of what is going to be filmed next (meaning in that day’s shoot.) while also looking over the “little things.”
Cinematogpher: Runs the camera and camera crew. This role is driving not only a lot of technology but also the look and feel of the film. Outside of the Director, this role will be the biggest driver behind accomplsihing the vision of the film. The Instructor emphazied, repeatly, the importance of this person being “the one you have the least amount of ‘problems’ with.”
Sound: Vital. According to the instructor, bad sound is one of the things that most quickly turns an audience off. The instructor also things this is one of the great weak spots of the Valley. According to him, it is one of the hardest spots to fill with good people. Another thing we have learned on FFNL.
Other Roles Needed
Grips (crew): 2 run by Gaffer. Only on set filming, no tasks outside of this. Can we combine this into camera operators as well. Or would this be too difficult? I am thinking of fitting 12 plus Cast in the Firehouse.
Production assitants (gophers). Running the details of the day. Be very nice to these people at the end of the day.
Note taker on each shot
Person in charge of food and staging area
Take-away: Minium of 12 people needed on film day, cast not included. Instrucotr said a typical film day for him invloves 30 plus people. Does FFNL give us enough chops to combine roles somewhat? Less people means less complications, but more work for all invloved and maybe less quality of the work?
Random Points and Takeaways
Know your script, read it many many times. Your script should enter your dreams. Know it backwards and forwards.
Not sure how to best coordinate between script-to-storyboard-to-shot list. But this is important.
What drives your sequencing of what orders of shots you are going to film. Same light to Not having to move the camera to wide shots to close up shots.
The instructor buys a new hard drive for each one of his projects. I have no idea how to handle the logisitcs of this idea but it seemed sensible to me.
Can we use the coffee cart for our staging area?
Agenda for a table read: Welcome and thank all for coming. History of projects (a gentle reminder so actors know “the work” on the project has been going on for a long time.) Read script. Keep commentary and interruptions at a minimum. Give a debrief. Read script again, this time takes notes and give high level feedback at end. Keep day positive, realize this day will drive the vibe for the rest of filming. (This agenda is both combo of instructors points and thinks I have noticed from FFNL table reads.)
Shooting is a 12-15 hour day. Is that even possible if filming in the Kitchen? Won’t that piss the residents off? Food provided for crew and cast must also be offered to residents that day. So have a vegan option.