What would you do differently next time?

Prior to working in film/tv I used to work in the business / non-profit sector as a creative media producer. Part of working in the corporate world was filled with team meetings and trying to figure out how to improve the organization as a whole. One process that I actually enjoyed involved After Action Reports, which where utilized after an event or program was finished.  It was a tool we used to analyze the success or failures of said event and provided ways to learn from our mistakes.

When you wrap a film or tv show do you ever wonder how things could go differently? What would you do so that the next project would go smoother?  Below I have listed 10 questions to ask yourself at the end of each shoot is complete?

  1. Which crew members would you hire back or recommend again? Why or Why not?
  2. Did all of the locations or sets work for the scenes in the script? Were there any locations you wish you had more options for?
  3. Did you end up picking the best time of year to film? If you had to start over would you choose another season of the year to film in?
  4. Which processes or systems were missing that you would put in place next time?
  5. Was there a dept that was lacking prep or man-power? How could you you predict this in the future?
  6. Did any dept go over budget? How did this happen and how could it be fixed in the future?
  7. Were there any specific scenes that took longer than planned and what was the cause of the delay?
  8. Did any of the cast present issues or prove to be difficult? Was this handled appropriately?
  9. Did you have enough dept mtgs during prep? Was prep a well oiled machine or lacking structure/systems?
  10. Was there any drama behind the camera and how could this be minimized in the future?

Whether or not you do an official AAR with your team, its a good practice to do by yourself or one or two other crew members.

How to use SLACK for your production

Slack is a new way to communicate with your team. It’s faster, better organised and more secure than email.

You can download slack’s desktop platform as well as the iPhone and android app.

This past year I started using it on a few productions and really fell in love with it. It was a way to brainstorm ideas, build community and cut down on hundreds of emails that get lost in the ethos.

Below I have listed a few tips to using SLACK for your production…

Tip #1. Create a slack workspace with a creative name. You can also upload a logo so that its branded properly.

Tip #2. Figure out how many channels you want to have within the workspace. You can create a channel for each department like Makeup, Costumes, Locations etc.

Tip #3. Make certain channels private and certain channels avail to anyone. I have several channels I keep private and don’t need the rest of the crew to chime in on.

Tip #4. Invite your crew to the platform. You can invite them via the link in the program or send out an email with the workspace link. Yes some people will be resistant and you may not want to use it for certain departments like casting or accounting etc but in general its helpful to get all your Department Heads on the app.

Tip #5. Lead by example and post ideas, questions and fun things on the app. When you encourage people to post on the app this will help to cut down on the hundreds of emails that will ensue during a production.

Tip #6. Figure out what you are NOT going to use slack for. One example is I still send out emails with zoom links for various mtgs. If i use Slack its possible that this invite could get missed. I also do NOT use slack when communicating with vendors, casting directors, agents or anyone that is not on full time payroll etc..

Tip #7. Get permission before you decide to use it. If your Directors/Producers are totally against using it then don’t try and force the use of it. At the end of the day some people are used to a certain way of doing things and you can’t always suggest a new process.

10 ideas for living when traveling for work in Film/TV

Over the last several years I’ve had the privilege to travel for work when filming a movie away from home. While I do miss my bed on occasion, traveling to various cities does have its perks. Below I’ve listed some ideas for living when traveling for work in film.

  1. Figure out what amenities are included in the hotel/house/airbnb you are staying at. Do they have a washer/dryer, kitchen, kitchenette, microwave, wifi, refrigerator etc.  What about pool/hot tub/gym? Knowing what your place has and doesn’t have will help you to pivot when needed. Don’t forget parking?
  2. Use google maps / apple maps to see what restaurants/coffee shops/bars are close by or walking distance and make a list.
  3. Be prepared to do laundry.  I typically like to pack a bag of tide pods because they are somewhat safe to travel with as long as they are wrapped and enclosed properly. Consider bringing a roll of quarters to avoid this fun trip when you land if the washers only take quarters.
  4. Apply for TSA Pre-Check. If you can afford, the TSA Pre-Check is one of the best investments I’ve ever made and makes any airport experience significantly less painful.
  5. Consider a subscription of boxed meals. I personally use Factor75 when I travel and it helps me to eat healthy and avoid eating out for every single meal. All you need is a refrigerator and microwave to use.
  6. Determine how you will get mail. I typically have amazon packages shipped to my hotel pretty easily, however I do have a second mailbox for certain cities I work in a bit. I use ipostal1.
  7. Decide on your new workout routine. For some this comes easier than others. Depending on the city I’ve joined gyms temporarily for a month at a time and on other occasions I’ve used apps like Mind Body Online or Class Pass to book gym sessions or yoga classes.
  8. Research fun/relaxing things to do. I like to see if there are any movie theaters close by or things in the area that might be worth pursuing while I’m away from home.
  9. Talk to the locals. Join a few local facebook groups, talk to the hotel staff or local barista. Get tips for what to do in town and hear what they recommend.
  10. Keep your room neat and organized. Don’t forget to ask for cleaning service at the hotel front desk or consider hiring a cleaner if staying at a long term airbnb. Keeping your place clean and organized will help give you peace of mind.

Episode 31 – Brent Emery – Packaging projects and navigating film finance

Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

In this episode we chat with Brent Emery (@brentalanemery on instagram) about packaging and financing projects.

About Brent Emery
Sundance award-winning producer Brent Emery brings over fifteen years of international film strategy and business consulting experience to Resonate Entertainment. He has worked extensively as an independent film finance, sales and production specialist at multiple executive posts, including U.S. Head of Co-Productions for ECI (a global entertainment company focused on Chinese Co-Productions) and Executive Vice President of Production and Development at Madonna’s Maverick Films.

During his seven years at Maverick Films, Emery oversaw development of a slate of over fifty studio and independent film and television projects. He also managed the deals of a dozen independent producers with deals at Maverick. Some projects that emerged from Emery’s tenure as an executive overseeing development include box office record breaking Twilight, which was eventually financed by Summit Entertainment, the hit film Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, and the young adult hit movies Agent Cody Banks I and II.

Emery’s critically acclaimed 2015 film, The Stanford Prison Experiment, won the Alfred P. Sloan Award and Waldo Salt screenwriting award at The Sundance Film Festival. The Road Within, starring Kyra Sedgwick, produced by Emery and written and directed by Emery’s wife, Gren Wells, has garnered multiple international awards, including Best Youth Film at The Rome Film Festival.

Emery recently produced Carrie Pilby with his Resonate cofounders, Suzanne Farwell and Susan Cartsonis.

About Resonate Entertainment
Resonate Entertainment is an innovative new entertainment company formed by film industry leaders who bring their unparalleled combination of creative filmmaking, technical production and film finance expertise to their company. They have a commitment to female gender representation and inclusion, and develop, finance and produce high-quality commercial films in all genres for the underserved yet highly lucrative female audience.

Links Mentioned:

Box Office Mojo
Slated
Cine Story
Studio System
Slack

7 devices to improve your walkie experience

#1 Reliable Headsets

Choose a solid headset that will last. Many headsets that are bought on amazon can fail rather quickly…sometimes in a matter of hours or days.

The FilmPro Surveillance Headset is a trusted surveillance by many professionals in the industry.

Buy via On Set Headsets

#2 Custom Earpieces

The standard earpiece that comes with most headsets can be irritating and difficult to hear. Custom earpieces are affordable and typically come in various sizes.

Buy Small Pack on AmazonBuy Medium Pack on AmazonBuy Large Pack on Amazon

#3 Custom Molded Earpieces

If the standard custom earpieces do not meet your needs then maybe a molded set will be what you are looking for. These molded sets are easy to customize at home and are relatively affordable.

Buy on Amazon

#4 Earhugger Accessory Kit

These earhugger devices make it easier for you keep that earpiece correctly lodged in your ear.

Buy on Amazon

#5 Walkie Woogies

Bring some flavor to your earpiece with a colorful earpiece tube.

Buy on Walkie Woogies

#6 Universal Dbl Radio Shoulder Vest

Not sure where to place all your sidearms? Check out the array of shoulder vests on amazon…

Buy on Amazon

#7 Walkie Cadddie

Hold more than your walkie with a Walkie Caddie. These can include pens, sharpies, knives, laser pointers and more….

Buy on Dependable Expendables

Communicating leadership principals with metaphors

Making a movie or TV series can often times feel overwhelming. You might have too little time or not enough money to solve all the myriad of problems that lie in front of you and your team.

One thing I like to do early on in production is to communicate ideas about work or the work process via metaphors. I love to use metaphors because they help turn the seemingly difficult problem into a visible solution that gets people thinking.

Below I have listed a few metaphors and how I use them.

Metaphor #1

Do you know how to eat an elephant?

Of course you are NOT really going to eat an elephant…that would be horrible. The metaphor is meant to evoke the sublime. Elephants are so huge it would be impossible to eat them, however if you did have to eat them you would eat them one bite at a time.

Occasionally I will explain this metaphor to my office staff when we are faced with 100 to-dos and I can see the look of of defeat on their faces. I try to explain that if you can focus on one thing at a time and slowly make your way through all that has to be done you will be successful!

I typically share this metaphor with Office PAs, Coordinators etc when working as a UPM/Line Producer.

Metaphor #2

Why should you not eat desert before the meal?

Of course we all know that eating desert before any meal is not a good idea. It’s something we have to educate children on when they are young. The metaphor does apply to filmmaking however and it is one of my favorite to use.

In the filmmaking metaphor the DESERT is often 1/8 of a page (CU of the man holding the phone). The MEAL is simply the meat of the day and hopefully a 3 page scene with dialogue. Now this does not always mean that starting with 1/8 of a page is a bad idea, however it can slow you down and be problematic if you do have a high page count and want Actors to be at their best.

Choosing to start with a big meaty scene first will not only give actors the energy they deserve, but allow you to focus on what’s really important.

I typically share this metaphor with Directors and DPs while working as a 1st AD.

Episode 28 – Robin Kincade – How to become a successful film production assistant

Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

In this Episode we speak with Robin Kincade (@kincadeproductions on instagram) about working as a successful production assistant in film and tv.

Robin has over 20 years experience as a freelance producer, location scout and photographer for some of the biggest names in the business including NBC, ABC, MTV, CMT, Showtime, HBO, Reality Television and many more.
After 4 years in development, she launched Kincade Productions and is proud to launch this one of a kind course that gives step- by-step direction on how to break into the film industry.

Robin’s Website: https://www.kincadeproductions.com/

Episode 27 – Bruce Van Dusen – Inside the mind of a commercial director

Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

In this episode we talk with Bruce Van Dusen (@brucevandusen1 on instagram) about his new book and his experience working as a Commercial Director.

Bruce has directed over a thousand commercials, three movies and a documentary. Recently he released a book titled 60 stories about 30 seconds that explores his four-decade long career and a ton of weird crazy stuff that happened along the way.

Buy the Book: https://amzn.to/33oN4uh
Bruce’s Website: https://www.brucevandusen.com/
Bruce’s Portfolio: http://assemblyfilms.com/directors/bruce-van-dusen