Episode 25 – Abe Martinez – The value of mentorship and building relationships that matter

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In this episode we talk with Abe Martinez about mentorship and building relationships that matter.
Abraham Martinez (_abemartinez_ on instagram) is a Director of Photography who has traveled across the world to nearly 60 countries. He started out working on many studio feature films in Hollywood within the camera department on movies such as Flight Plan, Spider-Man 3, and Fast and Furious to name a few.
Abe recently broke ground in television filming two shows back to back, Queen of the South and The Chi. He has experience filming internationally and has shot two independent feature films overseas, in India and Kenya. While on location in Kenya, along with his wife and two boys, Abraham resourcefully produced a children’s show pilot targeting vulnerable children. Working on films has proved more than simply an adventurous career but has triggered a passion to impact culture and shoot compelling stories along the way.

10 Essential PPE supplies to consider for your production

Many productions are preparing to resume filming over the next several months and will be looking to implement the safety standards provided in the Safe Way Forward. Part of that process involves having adequate PPE and supplies to maintain a safe set.

Below I have listed 10 supplies you may want to consider:

Episode 24 – Books I’ve Loved – Cal Newport, Jim Dethmer & Ryan Holliday

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The excerpt from Amazon says this about Deep Work:”
‘Deep work’ is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. Coined by author and professor Cal Newport on his popular blog Study Hacks, deep work will make you better at what you do, let you achieve more in less time and provide the sense of true fulfilment that comes from the mastery of a skill. In short, deep work is like a superpower in our increasingly competitive economy.
And yet most people, whether knowledge workers in noisy open-plan offices or creatives struggling to sharpen their vision, have lost the ability to go deep – spending their days instead in a frantic blur of email and social media, not even realising there’s a better way.
A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, DEEP WORK takes the reader on a journey through memorable stories — from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air — and surprising suggestions, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored.

Put simply: developing and cultivating a deep work practice is one of the best decisions you can make in an increasingly distracted world and this book will point the way.

 
The excerpt from Amazon says this about The 15 Commitments:
 
You’ll never see leadership the same way again after reading this book.
These fifteen commitments are a distillation of decades of work with CEOs and other leaders. They are radical or provocative for many. They have been game changers for us and for our clients. We trust that they will be for you too.
Our experience is that unconscious leadership is not sustainable. It won’t work for you, your team or your organization in the long term. Unconscious leadership can deliver short term results, but the costs of living and leading unconsciously are great.
Fear drives most leaders to make choices that are at odds with healthy relationships, vitality and balance. This fear leaves a toxic residue that won’t be as easily tolerated in an increasingly complex business environment.
Conscious leadership offers the antidote to fear. These pages contain a comprehensive road map to guide you to shift from fear-based to trust-based leadership. Once you learn and start practicing conscious leadership you’ll get results in the form of more energy, clarity, focus and healthier relationships. You’ll do more and more of what you are passionate about, and less of what you do out of obligation. You’ll have more fun, be happier, experience less drama and be more on purpose.
Your team will get results as well. They’ll be more collaborative, creative, energized and engaged. They’ll solve issues faster, and once resolved the issues won’t resurface. Drama and gossip will all but disappear, and the energy and resources that fueled them will be redirected towards innovation and creativity.
 
The excerpt from Amazon says this about The Obstacle is the way.
The book draws its inspiration from stoicism, the ancient Greek philosophy of enduring pain or adversity with perseverance and resilience. Stoics focus on the things they can control, let go of everything else, and turn every new obstacle into an opportunity to get better, stronger, tougher. As Marcus Aurelius put it nearly 2000 years ago: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
Ryan Holiday shows us how some of the most successful people in history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—have applied stoicism to overcome difficult or even impossible situations. Their embrace of these principles ultimately mattered more than their natural intelligence, talents, or luck.
If you’re feeling frustrated, demoralized, or stuck in a rut, this book can help you turn your problems into your biggest advantages. And along the way it will inspire you with dozens of true stories of the greats from every age and era.

Film Production Insurance 101 for US Filmmakers

As productions begin to ramp up knowing the inns and outs of your production policy can be very important. The below article is a guest post from Front Row Insurance.

A SOLID FILM INSURANCE POLICY WILL PROTECT THE PRODUCER FROM:

  • liability related to injuries on set
  • accidents in working vehicles
  • theft
  • loss and damage of rented and owned equipment
  • can also protect producers from libel or copyright infringement claims

AN OVERVIEW OF THE FILM INSURANCE POLICIES OFFERED BY FRONT ROW FOR US FILMMAKERS:

PRODUCTION EQUIPMENT INSURANCE

Covers against risks of direct physical loss, damage or destruction to cameras, camera equipment, sound & lighting equipment, grip equipment, portable electrical equipment & generators, mechanical effects equipment and similar miscellaneous equipment.

This coverage also typically includes loss of use of property of others for which the renter or producer is legally liable. The limit of coverage for production equipment should be sufficient to cover the replacement cost of ALL equipment being used on the project. Most equipment rental houses will include in their contract a statement confirming the renter’s requirement to fully insure the equipment in their possession.

Equipment Floater Policy US quote.

SHORT-TERM PRODUCTION INSURANCE (SHORT SHOOT)

Short-Term Production Insurance is perfect for the new or indie filmmaker who may not have more than one project scheduled in the next six months. This coverage is ideal for singular projects and can satisfy insurance requirements from film schools, rental houses, permit offices, prop houses, and/or studio location rental space.

Pricing starts at around $500 USD for minimal coverages. The premium amount for 1-10 days of coverage is the same price and it will increase with the more days you add, but 60 days is the maximum coverage period for short-term policies.

Short Shoot US quote.

DICE INSURANCE (ANNUAL)

  1. What’s the difference between short-term production insurance versus annual?
  2. Short-term production insurance covers your productions on a project-by-project scale. Purchased on this scale, short-term policies can cover as little as one day of production (although you should cover your prep days, too).

Planning to shoot multiple times throughout the year, and have an estimated budget over $15K USD? Then you’ll want an annual (DICE) policy. This coverage can be much more cost effective than Short-Term Production Insurance. Pricing starts around $2,500 USD for the year. Financing may be available.

Although DICE policies can be completely customized to fit your productions need, the following coverage options are available:

DICE US quote.

FILM PRODUCER’S E&O INSURANCE

If your project is being sold or distributed, Errors & Omissions (E&O) coverage may be for you; in fact, most distribution contracts will require this coverage. All television, streaming services, and feature films will require this coverage.

E&O coverage protects your production and covers any legal cost if another party accuses you of an unoriginal idea, e.g., title, characters, plots.

Pricing starting around $3,000 USD for three years of coverage.

Film producer’s E&O US quote.

OTHER FILM INSURANCE COVERAGES TO CONSIDER:

GENERAL LIABILITY

Although film policies vary widely, you’ll always need general liability. General liability covers bodily injury and property damage that occurs during the course of filming. Cast and crew are exempt from this and covered separately through a workers compensation policy. This coverage is required by most city/county permit offices.

WORKERS COMPENSATION

Workers compensation protects you should something happen to your employees on the job. It’s important to go over how you are covering crew (employees) and independent contractors.

THIRD PARTY PROPERTY DAMAGE

Legal liability for damage to or destruction of property belonging to others (including loss of use of the property) while the property is in the care, custody or control of the production company and is used or to be used in an insured production.

NON-OWNED/HIRED AUTO

Hired/Non-Owned Auto Liability covers damages and injuries sustained by other motorists that your production rental vehicle accidentally hits when your production is considered “At Fault”.

UMBRELLA LIABILITY

This policy provides additional limits to the general liability, auto liability, employers’ liability (under workers’ compensation policy) and third party property damage coverages. Some locations will require higher limits than the standard general/auto liability policy of $1mil USD.

GUILD/UNION TRAVEL ACCIDENT

Provides travel accident coverages (accidental death and dismemberment) as required by the guild or union contracts to which the producer is signatory. Coverage is blanket and the limits of liability meet all signatory requirements. Coverage may be extended to non-union employees, usually with a benefit limit of $50K USD each person.

PRODUCTION PACKAGE

A production package is an accumulation of coverages to protect multiple or singular projects such as features, TV series, or documentaries. If you have an annual gross production cost over $100,000 USD and are looking for annual coverage, a production package will be necessary.

Some coverages available in a production package are:

To view all the US film production insurance coverages offered by Front Row, go here: https://www.frontrowinsurance.com/usa

At Front Row, we understand how confusing production insurance can be because many of us were filmmakers (in prior lives) and have been there ourselves! Every film production insurance policy needs to be tailored to the company, or to the project if a short-term film policy. A film insurance policy is based on the best offerings from insurance companies that provide entertainment production coverage.

About: Front Row Insurance Brokers Inc. is an independent insurance brokerage that provides film insurance, including producer’s E&O insurance, for the lowest possible cost. Should a claim occur, Front Row ensures that all clients receive the money that they are owed per the policy, as quickly as possible. Front Row has offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Nashville, LA and NY.

By: David Hamilton, President+CEO

Bio: https://www.frontrowinsurance.com/staff/david-hamilton

Episode 22 – Gad Tisch – CEO of Croo Gloo discusses strategies for using technology to solve problems

Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

In this episode we talk with Gad Tisch.
Gad is the founder and president of Croogloo a film and television operations platform. He has a background in film production having worked on numerous films and tv shows. Currently Gad has a mission to remedy inefficient productions and costly practices by centralizing productions to unlock data and generate tax credits.
Visit their website

Reviewing the Covid-19 White Paper Guidelines with Lisa Mall and Brandon Riley

In this episode we discuss the COVID-19 White Paper guidelines with Lisa Mall.

Lisa is a DGA 2nd AD-based in Dallas, TX but frequently works across the US in various cities such as New York City, Portland, OR and many others. Her recent projects include Halle Berry’s “Bruised,” Netflix’s unreleased “Grand Army,” USA Network’s “Queen of the South,” and a handful of indie feature films.  Past projects include IFC’s “Portlandia,” Marvel’s “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” and a smattering of movies the likes of “Olympus Has Fallen,” “The Maze Runner,” and “Get On Up,” to name a few.
Please enjoy!

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10 notes regarding the Industry White Paper

As of June 1st, 2020 the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force released a White Paper that was compiled by various companies, unions and guilds in the Film/TV Industry with the purpose of creating a safe workplace and re-starting the industry. Below you can download the file and see our thoughts.

  1. The document is very concise, easy to read and graphically interesting. Some people were expecting a 40-page report that no one would read…thankfully most in the industry will be able to digest this 22-page doc with ease.
  2. It is really amazing to think that all the film unions and guilds came together to create such a document in such record time. Kuddos to everyone involved!
  3. The suggestion to include Face Shields in addition to face masks and cloth masks is definitely worth noting. For individuals such as Directors, ADs (who have to communicate a ton) and/or anyone who hates wearing a face mask….the face shield may be the solution we have been waiting for. Face shields cover your eyes (which face masks fail to do) and they have the potential to make it easier to communicate with a walkie etc.
  4. The suggestion to use electronic scripts, sign-out sheets and electronic documents (call sheets, prs) etc is something that for the most part has been adopted by the industry, however there are certain productions that still may be stuck in their ways using paper and need a push to go digital (something we wrote about here).
  5. Having adequate eating space for lunch can be challenging…. I’m a bit surprised that french hours were not suggested to solve this problem although they did mention having shifts.
  6. The designation of a Covid-19 compliance officer will be a relief to many that these “supervision” duties do not fall onto the shoulders of the AD staff.
  7. Background Actors were not really mentioned in the document (except briefly on page 20 in reference to crowd scenes) unless they were included in the category of Cast.
  8. While the document is very thorough it does not really detail if non-union workers such as PAs will be under the same rules as a union worker. Also what if a production is only SAG or only IATSE…will the same rules apply to everyone?
  9. In general the face mask policy needs a bit more clarification. Obviously cast/crews will be able to take it off during lunch, however will there ever be instances where having a face masks is not required ie… shooting in an outdoor field where crew are predominately able to social distance with ease.
  10. While there are bound to be a ton of questions to the interpretation of these rules…where does one go to dive deep into these questions? Will there be a website with more information or suggestions for how to improve this document?

Below you can join our Facebook Group to participate in questions/discussion on how best to implement these policies on your set.

A guide to making an Extras Breakdown Sheet

You’re the 2nd Assistant Director on a Movie or TV Show and you are faced with the daunting task of organizing and managing extras. Are you ready? Do you a plan of action to coordinate the task in front of you? Maybe its time to update your extras breakdown sheet or get some new ideas so you can improve the sheet you currently use.
Below we have outlined some helpful tips to get you thinking…

Use this FREE extras breakdown sheet to customize for your particular show!

  1. Use a solid template. We have attached one in this blog post (with dummy data as an example)…but if you don’t have a template you are proud of don’t be afraid to reach out to your fellow AD staff (or an AD you trust) who may have one tucked away in a dropbox folder somewhere.
  2. Make sure the BG DOOD is accurate. Before you start transferring data from the BG DOOD to the Extras Breakdown its important to check with the 1st AD and assess how accurate this breakdown really is. Often times a 1st AD will sit with the Director and go over the exact numbers with the Director and then get approval from a UPM or Line Producer.
  3. Be as detailed as possible. If you have a funeral don’t just list 100 funeral patrons. Do there need to be family members or friends of certain ethnicity and race? What about minors and their ages? If the breakdown is generic don’t be afraid to approach the 1st AD or Director to get this information so that you are providing the very best information to those who receive the list.
  4. Don’t start too soon. If you start creating your BG sheet right away you will most likely have to change it a dozen times. Wait till you are in a position during prep where the 1st AD feels pretty good about the schedule.
  5. Use colors and various font treatments. Highlighting various things in colors such as locations, featured BG or special notes will make the document easier to read.
  6. Create a Distro List for this document. Every show is slightly different but in general you will want to make sure that various depts receive a copy of the list including (Props, Transpo, Locations, Hair, Makeup, Costumes and essential individuals such as the UPM). You don’t want to send this to the entire crew because the third grip really doesn’t need to know.
  7. Include ADD’L AD and PA staff in the breakdown. If you are going to have a certain amount of Extras you will probably want to schedule and budget additional days for AD’s and PAs on this document. Depending on the complexity of the scene will help you determine how to figure this out. If you have 100 students in bleachers the whole time it will be easier to direct and manage than 100 students crossing in the hallways.
  8. Don’t forget to update when the schedule changes. Changes are the one-liner will change many times during the course of production unless its a relatively short amount of days. When it does change…don’t forget to update this document and distort immediately. Various depts will rely on this info to make sure they are prepared on the day and aren’t surprised by the sudden change.
  9. Save and Label properly. Make sure this document is exported as a .PDF and labeled in a way that shows the current date and version. example MOVIE_NAME_BG_BREAKDOWN_1_1_2020.pdf.
  10. Make it your own. There are no exact rules to a breakdown so make it your own and the very best it can be. Take pride in making this breakdown the very best it can be for that particular show you are on.

Need software to manage Extras?

Consider using the RABS App to digitally check in and wrap Extras in an efficient and secure style.

7 ways to encourage social distancing on a film set

The idea of social distancing on a film set has the potential to sound like an oxymoron. Almost every memory I have working on set involves lots of people working closely together for very long periods of time. While it may be too early to conjecture there are still things we can plan and prepare for.

Using technology, avoiding paper and going digital used to be a nice suggestion over the last several years. These tools/technologies were often optional devices that productions would use to streamline things and make things more efficient. Today in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic that we face digital tools will serve as a primary and necessary way to help in our efforts to create a safe set and maintain productivity.

Below I have outlined 7 ways to encourage social distancing on a film set in light of the COVID-19 virus.

  1. Use technology to allow a video village system that is not dependent on 1-2 monitors. Teradek has a great product called SERV PRO that allows a video system to stream up to 10 devices (combination of iPads and phones). Using this device will allow the people that really need to see a monitor (various dept heads and Producers) the opportunity to view without having to all be clustered around the same monitor as the Director/DP/Scripty. In addition this system makes it extremely helpful for ADs when placing and setting background in very large spaces to carry their monitor with them.
  2. Have signs on set to remind cast and crew of Social Distancing efforts. Consider placing these signs in key spots such as restrooms, trailers, entrances to set etc
  3. Limit in-person meetings and auditions. Consider using software like Zoom to conduct production meetings, table reads etc.
  4. When working with Background Actors consider using software like RABS to decrease contact between staff and the Extras. RABS is great for handling digital vouchers and creating a paperless system that will give you peace of mind.
  5. Go digital with sides, call sheets and essential paperwork for cast and crew. A few companies that are making waves in this industry are Setkeeper, Croogloo, Studio Binder and Scenechronize. By avoiding passing out paper documents you will be minimizing crew interaction in a significant way. There are also numerous payroll companies that have setup digital systems for time cards etc.
  6. Create a training video system that each Crew Member, Cast Person and Background Actor must watch prior to their first day of work. Trainual is a software tool that you could implement with relative ease.
  7. Allocate large enough holding areas for lunch, background holding etc so that people are able to have enough space when doing those activities. Some sets may even talk about doing a working lunch and observing french hours to allow for such a possibility.