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7 ways to help "MAKE YOUR DAY"
Ideas for crushing it as an assistant director
"MAKING YOUR DAY" for the Assistant Director simply means getting everything shot that was on the call sheet within the 10-12 hour window of time.
Here are 10 ways to help make your day:
1. Break up your day into two sections.
Lunch should always be your halfway point. There will be times that this doesn't happen, but for the most part, this is a good rule of thumb. If you are shooting six pages, then your goal should be to shoot three pages before lunch. Let your Director and DP know that goal early and often so that they can be on the same page. If you try to break your day up into too many chunks, you will quickly become discouraged. Having a halfway point is one of the best ways to go.
2. Eliminate lag time.
As soon as your G&E dept and Camera departments are done tweaking their setup, be ready to ask them if they are set. If they are set, then check with the Director and proceed to yell roll sound. There will be times when both the G&E and Camera departments are done and you don't know that they are done. The best thing to do is simply pay attention to what they are working on, and if you sense they are close to being done, then ask them. If both departments are set up and you aren't on the ball, you can lose minutes of roll time because you weren't paying attention.
3. Consolidate moves.
If you happen to be shooting three scenes in the same location, it may benefit you to shoot all three scenes from one angle and then move the camera. This is not a hard and fast rule, and to be honest, it may only work some of the time. In addition to moving the camera, it is ideal to shoot out a room or area of the location you are shooting before moving on. Consider block shooting when you can.
4. Shoot the hard stuff first.
Don't start your day shooting easy 1/8-page scenes if you can avoid it. This will slow you down because your Director and DP will end up spending hours on a 1/8 when you have a 3 page scene you haven't even touched. There are exceptions to this rule, however, for the most part, it’s good to get the meat out of the way and then work on the little things as you have time.
5. Always be thinking about the next shot, the next scene, and the next day.
This rule may apply more specifically to the 2nd AD, whose role is to plan for tomorrow and run base camp, however, it is vital for the 1st AD to think about this too. When you stop thinking about what is next, you will find yourself in a pickle when you have an element that is not prepared.
Do you have a scene coming up that involves a complicated makeup gag? If so, how much time do you need to allow for that?
The scene you are shooting tomorrow that involves a heavy set dress—is the Art department ready for it or do they need a pre-call to make it happen?
Should we consider moving the lunch location so that we can be closer to the set since it is taking longer than planned?
6. Stick to your watch.
After each setup, chances are your DP and Gaffer will need time to adjust lighting and swap lenses. The simple question I like to ask is... "How much time do you need?" Sometimes crew members will squirm when you ask them this question. Once they give you a time, go to your watch or phone timer and start the clock. If they gave you 15 or 30 minutes, then don't be afraid to go back to them and tell them how much time they have left. Remember, they are the ones who gave you the estimated time, so if they bark at you, remind them they gave you the time.
7. Have your hair/makeup/wardrobe times figured out.
Occasionally, it can take forever to get a person through the process, and this isn't always the fault of the customer, hairstylist, or makeup artist. Sometimes the actor just doesn't want to cooperate. Whatever the case, this area of production can really slow things down if the camera is waiting on an actor to get through the works.
Have you spoken with your makeup/hair stylist about how long they anticipate working with each actor? Have you planned pre-calls accordingly? Do any actors need extra time just to unwind in the morning? Do you need to hire an additional makeup artist on the day you have more actors?