How to Create a Successful Production Schedule
All the factors to your production process need to be lined up before you begin filming, even if you are shooting for just one or two days. This ensures production can go as smoothly as possible and that you are able to keep things within budget and on time.
A production schedule gathers all the necessary information and provides a general overview of what is needed and when. Although each production is different, there will be a few basic elements in each schedule that you draft. Here are a few tips on how to create a successful production schedule for every one of your projects.
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Read the Script and Break It Down
The most crucial aspect when creating a production schedule is to become familiar with the script. Take the time to read it and create breakdown sheets that categorize factors within each scene. This will help you determine:
- Required cast, crew, and equipment
- Any audio or special visual effects
- Location or environment
By breaking down the script, you can create a catalogue of everything that’s needed and get a context for budget. This first step allows you to move on to other organizational aspects.
Figure Out What Equipment You’ll Need
A major factor when it comes to your filming schedule and budget is equipment. Equipment can include:
- Cameras and lenses
- Lighting and power
- Communication tools such as walkie-talkies
- Hair, makeup, and wardrobe
- Sound, such as microphones
- And more
It’s likely that you will have to rent most of the equipment you’ll use for your production. Make a list of what to get and the dates you’ll need them on. Luckily, companies such as Wits End provide all the supplies you need for production, including vehicles and trucks to transport all of your equipment.
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Scout Your Locations
Location will also make a large impact. If you’re shooting in a studio, you will have a little more flexibility, but outdoor locations require a lot of forethought. Not only will you need to take weather and other elements into account, but you’ll need to go and scout potential locations beforehand.
Visit each site, take pictures, take note of the lighting, and conduct a tech scout so you’ll know what types of shots you’ll need and how they can be done. This is also an excellent time to consider any safety factors and determine if you need permits to shoot in a specific place.
Take Your Cast and Crew Into Account
Once you have information on the crew and actors you’ll be working with, you can then incorporate personal factors into your production schedule, such as:
- Prioritizing physically or emotionally difficult scenes. Schedule these scenes at the beginning of the day so people can prepare for it the night before and you can accommodate extra time.
- Accounting for a main actor’s creative process or energy.
- Ensuring that camera operators and other crew members (such as makeup artists) have plenty of time to complete their tasks as well as all of the resources they need.
Keep your cast and crew’s well-being in mind, and make sure people are able to take needed breaks, especially if they just filmed a taxing scene.
Incorporate Some Industry Tricks
There are a few film industry tried-and-true tips that you can add to your production schedule. This includes under-scheduling each shoot day and having a plan for shorter or easier scenes that people can film quickly once they’re ahead of schedule. This will ensure you have plenty of time for those more difficult scenes, and people will feel more motivated and productive if they feel like they’re ahead of things.
Another trick is to shoot for two days at the beginning, then give everyone the third day off. This allows people to settle into production, and you can take the time to make a few adjustments before everyone comes back together. You’ll be able to change things without spending too much money or time upfront.
Collaborate with the Director
As you create your production schedule, work with the director and make sure they look over—and agree—with everything you have laid out. The director will need to be familiar with plans for filming. They also might:
- Have suggestions that make it easier for you to arrange things
- Want to take extra time the first couple of days to become familiar with the crew
- Ensure that everyone is eased into their particular process
- Have further tricks they’ve learned that they can teach you
Share your breakdown sheets with your director, and if you are thinking of under-scheduling, make sure you inform them of this plan.
Create a Schedule Outline and Write Call Sheets
Outline your production schedule and get feedback from your director and a few other essential crew members before you officially establish the timeline. Then, you can create call sheets for each day of filming and hand these out to everyone. Call sheets set clear expectations and have room for additional information such as safety factors and weather forecasts. Most importantly, they are an essential tool for keeping your production on schedule.
Set Up Your Production for Success
Creating a production schedule isn’t easy. Once the schedule is completed, however, you’ll find that all the information you need is in one place. This ensures everyone involved in your film is organized and on the same page. Not only will you be more likely to wrap up on time, but you’ll also be more likely to stay within budget and avoid organizational issues.
If you’ve created a production schedule and are looking for supplies, you’ll find all the equipment and expendables you need at Wits End. Get everything you need for your next production project today!
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