Using google drive for cast/crew sheets

Google Drive is one of the best tools for creating cast/crew sheets. There are a few other programs out there that I recommend, however for your typical low-budget project Google Drive works great and doesn’t cost anything.  I love this system because it cuts down on emails back and forth and assures that everything is up-to-date as much as possible.

Here are some steps on how to use google drive:

Step 1:

Download this FREE EXCEL TEMPLATE

Step 2:

Upload the template to google drive and format for your project.  Put 1s and 0s for what days people are working.

Step 3:

Share the google document with your Key crew members.  I typically make the cast list protected so that only the AD staff, producers and casting director have access to it.

Enjoy!

Make sides in under 5 minutes

***Note this tutorial is for MAC users only***

STEP 1. 

Open the .pdf formatted script using preview on the mac.  Make sure this is a copy of the script because you are going to mark it up.

STEP 2. 

Click the “show edit toolbar” button at the top right.  This brings down your edit window.

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STEP 3. 

Select the Circle tool and go through the script and circle the scene numbers you are shooting for the next day.

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STEP 4. 

On the pages that you have made circles that have a portion of the scene that you don’t plan to shoot simply X the scene or part of the scene out using the line symbol.

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STEP 5. 

Select the thumbnails button at the top left corner. This allows you to see all the pages in a birds-eye view and allows you to delete the pages you don’t need by simply clicking delete. In addition you can drag the front page of the call sheet into this thumbnail viewer as long as it is a .pdf.

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STEP 6. 

Click save.  You will need a saved file of these sides in case you need to print more at a later time.

STEP 7. 

Click Print. In the print window select the number of copies. If you need 20 Sides total you will print 10. Click copies per page and select 2. Make sure scale to fit is selected.

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STEP 8. 

Once the script has printed you can use a paper cutter to cut in half and then staple the top left hand corner.

Applications for confirming with crew members

When I send out call sheets one thing I do on the very first day of production is I confirm with the entire cast/crew to make sure they received my email. I typically ask the crew to confirm they received the email and I call all of the talent. I ask all crew to reply “Got It” and give them a deadline.  For larger union projects the AD does not typically have to worry about contacting the crew, however on non-union shoots this is sometimes the case.

Here are some applications I use to contact crew members.

iMessage
This application is free on the Mac. I use iMessage on my mac computer to text crew members who haven’t responded. This is faster than texting them because I am able to use my keyboard.  The only downside to iMessage is not everyone has an iPhone so for the people that don’t you will be forced to send them a text through your phone.

 

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Signals
Signals is an application that works with google mail and apple mail and helps you track emails to make sure they were opened. They have a free and paid accounts.  What I like about signals is that it will show me if someone has opened my email and not responded. This can eliminate the need to text them a confirmation if you know that they opened the email.

 

 

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How to train PAs for the set

Your about to start a new project and chances are there will be at least one PA that is rather green or maybe has never even been on a set before. This is mostly the case in the non-union world. So its the first day of production you don’t have time to train them what do you do?  Well take one step back. What if you were able to train them before the film started?

Here are some easy ways you can train PAs before your next film.

1. Recommend they attend Quixote PA Boot Camp.   I highly recommend this Boot Camp to anyone that wants to be a PA in the film industry. The people that come from this workshop come out well equipped.

“Quixote’s P.A. Bootcamp is designed as a real-world, practical job training program. If you are going to your first day of work as a P.A wouldn’t it be better to know what is going on all around you?  Our goal is to prepare you thoroughly and completely for the job of Production Assistant, which is your first step into the entertainment business as it has been for many highly successful producers, executives, directors and others currently working in the industry.” – From their website

2. Recommend a good book. I recently created an ebook that is specifically for Production Assistants in LA.  Check out the book on Amazon HERE.

3. Meet with your PAs before the show. I don’t recommend this on every project, however if its a lengthy feature or a project of 3 weeks or greater than this may be worth the meeting. Typically in the meeting I am able to assess who has what experience, and do an abbreviated training that includes set etiquette and expectations for the week.

4. Do on the job training. If you have a PA who doesn’t know how to do something make it clear that it is okay to ask for help and either you as the AD or another PA will show him or her how.

5. Consider online training. A friend of mine recently crated a really cool video training curriculum for PAs specifically. You can check out the course HERE.

Why your production should use Dropbox

Dropbox-Logo

I’ve been a fan of Dropbox since the day it started. I have owned several computers for many years and the idea of syncing documents back and forth has been very cumbersome. Using Dropbox allows me to have the same production documents on my home computer, laptop, iPad and iPhone all in one place. If you are working with a Director, DP, PD, PC, UPM and Producer having a common place where you can share documents will make everyone’s life simpler.

Once I am hired onto a project I always ask the production do you have a dropbox folder and if you do can you SHARE the folder with me.  Sometimes they will send me a link.  You don’t want a link. You want them to login to the dropbox account and actually share the folder. This way you can sync the documents you need to throughout the film. A shared link is worthless.

On occasion the production does not have a dropbox account setup nor do they really care to use it. In that case I offer to share my dropbox folder with them and if they want to use it great if not it still helps me to stay organized.

Here is a dropbox folder structure that I have created that is FREE for you to use and change all you want. This dropbox folder structure was created from working on dozens of projects and combining the best elements into one structure.

DOWNLOAD FOLDER STRUCTURE

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The art of CRAFTY

On larger projects or union shoots “crafty” is something that is typically carried out by the person whose sole job is operating craft service. These people are a pro at making snacks, keeping drinks cold and shopping in general.

On smaller projects or low budget non-union shoots “crafty” is often neglected and sometimes delegated to a PA who has never worked crafty before or has no idea how to.  As an Assistant Director crafty does not fall under the job description, however managing PAs does and so helping them understand how to properly manage “crafty” while the UPM or Producer is busy dealing with other items can prove very helpful especially if you have some influence on what they end up buying at the store.

Couple of notes when training someone on CRAFTY.

1. ICE everyday is essential. Keep drinks cold at all times. Warm drinks on set is unacceptable.

2. Never run out of water.  The moment you are on your last case of water someone needs to be on there way to get more.

3. Shop at the beginning for supplies that will last the entire shoot but be prepared to shop everyday for fresh fruits and items that need to be refilled.

4. Have a budget. If your budget is $150 a day you may have to spend $300 the first day and $75 the next two days so that you don’t overspend.

5. Be prepared for night shoots. If you are shooting overnights its important to stock up on caffeine and things that will keep people awake. You might need to budget extra for rock stars and red bulls on these nights.

6. Treat the craft service like a toddler. Its always making a mess and you’ll always be cleaning it up.

7. Buy containers to keep things fresh. If you can afford it buy large plastic containers that you can ration out the craft service. These come in helpful to put things like grapes, chips, chocolate etc.

8. Change it up. Try not to buy the same thing everyday. Change up some of the specialty items so that you aren’t eating twizzlers and goldfish everyday.

9. Be Healthy. People can’t leave set.  You are the gateway for people to eat healthy. Make sure you have healthy options.

10. Offer people items. At the beginning of the day offer the Directors/Producers coffee. During the day offer cast/crew members water.  People can’t always visit the craft service table because they are busy at work, which gives you the opportunity to bring crafty to them.

Download these helpful Crafty Lists.

CRAFTY LIST .PDF

7 reasons your low-budget film needs a 2nd AD

I get it. You have small budget.  You might be making a feature for under 100K and the idea of having a 2nd AD just sounds too big budget. Here is where you are wrong.   The role of a 2nd AD is to focus on tomorrow and run base camp. The 1st AD has no time in the world to focus on tomorrow much less go to the bathroom.  Here are ten reasons why every film needs a 2nd AD….even micro budget productions.

1. Making the Call Sheet. If you don’t have a 2nd AD, who is going to work on this document that sometimes takes several hours?  Are you really going to ask the 1st AD to go home after a 12-14 hour day and work on a call sheet?  This sounds a bit insane.

2. Confirming with Actors. If you don’t have actors for the scene then you have no scene. One of the responsibilities of a 2nd AD is to confirm the day before with Actors and sometimes Extras. This process of confirmation has to be done.

3. Running first team. Running first team means wrangling the top talent to and from set.  If you have no 2nd 2nd you most certainly have no 2nd AD.  Now worse case scenario if you don’t have a 2nd AD is you have a PA taking the talent to and from set. Is it really worth it to have a PA that may not have any set experience working with your top talent?

4. Setting Background. If you have a scene involving lots of extras chances are your 2nd AD or 2nd 2nd AD will be there to set the background and choreograph their movements. This is definitely not a task you could delegate to a PA, however the 1st AD will do this from time to time with no assistance from a 2nd.

5. Solving Scheduling Problems. Yes this is the 1st ADs responsibility, however when a 1st AD is on set they can’t leave to work on the schedule. This is where it comes in really handy to have the 2nd AD come up with some solutions to a schedule that just isn’t working.

6. Delegating to PAs. The 1st AD will often delegate to PAs in reference to lock-ups etc, however there may be times where the 2nd AD can do this delegation so that the 1st can focus on the set. Sometimes 2nd ADs will manage lock-ups and verify with the 1st.

7. Working with the Office.  The 2nd AD is responsible for sides, call sheets and production reports. Most of the time the sides are delegated to a PA, however the 2nd AD is typically the one to do this delegation. Production Reports again are managed by a 2nd AD, however they are sometimes done by a 2nd 2nd or UPM.