Define the work or else....
Why its important to define the work with your team.
Its a very simple exercise with the help of a whiteboard and a myriad of colors. I prefer to do it at the beginning of each week when prepping a film or tv show.
Step #1: Decide who will be at the meeting, the frequency and time of the meeting.
The meeting could be a small group of three people or up to 7 in some cases. More than seven people and the exercise tends be a tad complicated as most people are reserved and stop participating the larger the meeting gets. I prefer an early Monday meeting to set the tone and pace for the week. If you have the meeting to late in the day you end up waisting a lot of time answering questions that could be answered during the morning meeting.
Step #2: Create a series of buckets based on the situation at hand.
If you are in pre-production and meeting with crew members from your production team you might have a series of buckets or headers like this.
CAST | CREW | LOCATIONS | ACCOUNTING | VENDORS | TRAVEL
If you are in pre-production and meeting with members from the AD team you might have headers like this.
CAST | EXTRAS | LOCATIONS | VFX | ANIMALS | PICTURE VEHICLES
Adjust your buckets or headers accordingly based on who is in the meeting and what goals or tasks you are trying to accomplish.
Step #3: Create three sections for each category. One that is urgent important, important and to review.
You can do this step after you list all your to-dos or you can do it before. What’s important is to rank your to-dos in order of importance. You don’t want to worry about about the 1950s car today if it currently works the last day of the movie and you are still weeks away from shooting.
Step #4. List to dos for each section that are of concern.
While it may be impossible to list every single thing that needs to be done for each category its important to think of big picture things. For example when it comes to VFX you can know that certain things can be accomplished such as setting up a call with the VFX Supervisor and figuring out which shots will be vfx or practical.
Step #5. Assign tasks to individuals once everything is listed.
This is the key step in defining the work is deciding if one person will do certain tasks or a tasks will be accomplished by multiple people and which crew members. In addition to deciding who will do the tasks its important to know when the tasks will be created and which tasks that fall in the urgent important have to be done today vs sometime this week.
Step #6. Digitize everything on the whiteboard.
The whiteboard is great but you may be out driving around and want to pull up your to-do list on your phone or tablet. Its helpful to have an app available such as Monday.com, Click-Up, Todoist or Asana to name a few to keep track of all the tasks and see where everyone’s at.
Step #7. Revisit the whiteboard.
Whether you revisit the whiteboard at the end of each day or the beginning of each day its important to continually review to-dos and see the progress that has been made. If you don’t check up on these to dos you may have an important tasks such as “secure production insurance” slip by the wayside that could jeopardize the entire production.