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.

Episode 8 – A case study on Avengers End Game and the 1st AD behind the movie Chris Castaldi

Listen on iTunes or Spotify

In this episode we talk with 1st Assistant Director Chris Castaldi.

Chris is a graduate of UCLA with a bachelors in economics and emphasis in film started out in the film world as a Production Assistant and went on to work as a 2nd AD, 1st AD and is currently working in a producing capacity at Joe Roth’s Film.  Some of Chris’s credits include Avengers Endgame, Avengers Infinity War, Iron Man 1 and 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Jurassic World, Tomorrowland, Pain & Gain, The Bourne Legacy, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol and more….

Episode 7 – Seth Edelstein – A UPM’s process for building an all-star team

Listen on iTunes or Spotify

In this episode we talk with Unit Production Manager Seth Edelstein about the process he uses when building an all-star team.

Seth started out in the film industry as a Production Assistant and then got into the DGA Trainee program in the 90s and went on to work as an 2nd 2nd AD, 2nd AD, 1st AD and now Unit Production Manager. Some of Seth’s credits include Nightcrawler, Liar Liar, Dodgeball, Speed, Beethoven 2nd, Better Caul Saul, American Crime Story, The Mentalist, Without a Trace to name a few.

Books Mentioned in the episode: Crucial Conversations

Apps Mentioned in the episode: Wunderlist & Dark Sky

Episode 6 – Korey Pollard – A 1st AD’s guide to scheduling scripts like a Pro

Listen on iTunes or Spotify

In this episode we talk with 1st AD Korey Pollard (@migrantfilmworker on instagram) about his experience working as a 1st AD in Television. 

Korey has over thirty years of in-depth motion picture and television production strategy, management and delivery experience, Korey has certainly made (and continues to make) his mark on the industry. His proven attention to detail, problem-solving, collaborative leadership and critical thinking skills are evident in the projects he’s invited to engage in. Some of these projects include: Ryan Murphy’s Emmy award-winning ‘Assassination of Gianni Versace’ (FX), Emmy award-winning ‘Monk’ (USA Network), Seth MacFarlane’s ‘The Orville’ (Fox),‘9-1-1 What’s Your Emergency’ (Fox), ‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Series’ (Amazon/Paramount). He also helped bring ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Nashville’ to life for ABC Studios, ‘Deadwood’ for HBO and ‘House M.D.’ and ‘Life’ for NBC. 

Korey received early training and mentoring on films like: ‘Stand By Me’ (Columbia Pictures), ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys’ (20th Century Fox), ‘Clear and Present Danger’ (Paramount), “Waterworld’ (Universal Pictures), ‘And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself’ (HBO) and ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico’ (Columbia Pictures/Dimension Films) to name a few.

Korey remembers the incredible support and help that he was given and he strongly believes in giving back by teaching, mentoring and sharing his experiences with others, especially youth and future filmmakers. He sits on the advisory board of Greenhouse Collective, Lipscomb University’s College of Entertainment and the Arts, Grand Rapid’s Compass College of Cinematic Arts, and Belmont University’s Motion Picture Program. He also speaks regularly at schools, workshops and other engagements across the nation.

Check out Korey’s article on Stage32 https://www.stage32.com/blog/So-You-Want-to-Be-in-Pictures

How to make revisions to a script during pre-production

In this tutorial video I walk you through the simple steps to make changes to a script during pre-production.  This video can be used to guide a Director, Writer, Script Coordinator, UPM, LP, 1st AD, Producer or whoever may be making updates to a script using Final Draft and unfamiliar with the process or the latest program.

The main thing to remember is that you always want to keep your scene numbers locked to prevent confusion among Dept Heads!

PART 1

The following items are covered in this tutorial:

  1. Adding scene numbers
  2. Setting up revisions mode
  3. Omitting a scene
  4. Adding a scene
  5. Moving a scene

PART 2

The following items are covered in this tutorial:

  1. Using a folder structure and staying organized
  2. Updating the title page properly
  3. Using Revisions mode Page Colors
  4. Saving multiple versions (colored, bw, and clean version)

7 reasons why your Low Budget film should go DGA Signatory

I often get asked to create schedules and budgets for films in development and one of the questions I will often ask the producer(s) is what unions they want to budget for. Many times SAG is a no brainer no matter the budget but often times convincing producers to budget for IATSE, DGA, TEAMSTERS and WGA can be a challenge. Many times the reasons producers don’t want to join these unions is because of paperwork, limited finances and having to be under the scrutiny of a union. I put together a list of reasons why producers might want to reconsider….

7 reasons why your Low Budget Film show should go DGA Signatory:

1. Choosing to make your project DGA signatory will allow your Director the ability to Join the DGA if they are not currently a member.

2. Your film will be eligible to be entered into the DGA Awards.

3. You will be required to hire DGA UPMs and ADs (1st, 2nd and 2nd 2nd) thus ensuring an experienced AD staff. Now yes you can (might be able to) find experienced Non-Union ADs and UPMs however it is possible that they may or may not be as experienced as someone in the union and this could potentially lead to problems.

Example: You hire a Non-Union 1st AD who has only done one or two features and they may or may not not know how to keep your set safe or on schedule and you end up needing to shoot more days thus causing you to spend thousands of dollars.

4. If a movie is over a million dollars, some financiers will prefer that your movie is bonded. Some bond companies will require that your film join certain unions such as IATSE and DGA to limit the risk involved in making the picture.

5. You have access to a vast network of possible DGA Directors, ADs and UPMS around the United States to employ. Check out the list(s) HERE.

6. It may not be as expensive as you thought. For films under $500K the rates are negotiable. Essentially you would be paying the fringes (pension and health etc) on 3-4 crew members in addition to your cast. Check out the rates HERE.

7. It may not be as difficult as you thought. Yes you have to fill out an application and submit information about the film…but you are most likely doing this for SAG etc. What’s one more application?

Curious about making your project DGA Signatory? Follow these simple steps…

Step 1.
Visit the Employers section of the DGA website.


Step 3.
Download the appropriate signatory package on the right hand side.
You may need the following documents
  • Name of Producer Company (company info, llc etc)
  • Project Title
  • Type of project (Theatrical Feature, Movie for Television, Television Series, etc.)
  • Name of Director
  • Principal Photography Start Date
  • Project location
  • Budget
  • Intended Initial Release
  • Company contact information: Name, Title, telephone, email, website

Note:
There is a section on the DGA Application where you will list the Director, UPM and ADs. Its important to note that for most applications you will need to hire members in good standing who are listed on the perspective Qualification List. There are some project types where you may be eligible to hire someone who is not listed in a certain category etc. You can always fill out the crew you know for now ie… (Director and UPM) and then submit the AD names at a later time once it gets closer to filming. If you have any questions about the application don’t be afraid to call the DGA and ask.

Step 4.
Email the packet to signatories@dga.org.

Once your signatory application has been received, a signatory rep will be able to review and let you know what additional items are needed for the signatory process. Should you have questions about the signatory application’s status once sent, contact a Signatories Assistant, at (310) 289-2094.

Step 5.
Upon return of the completed and signed signatory application and forms, the Guild will determine if the producer company presented is the appropriate signatory entity, based on the information provided. Further information may be required.

Step 6.
Signatory status will be given to the Producer at the time the Guild is confident that the necessary signatory and financial assurances’ documents have been provided. The signatory and financial assurances documents will be circulated to the appropriate parties, signed by the authorized representative of the signatory Producer, and delivered to the Guild prior to the commencement of Principal Photography. A payroll deposit is required. It is important to discuss the delivery of the payroll deposit with the Signatory Representative early in the signatory process.

Learn from the Legends

What do “Star Wars”, “The Godfather”, “Back to the Future”, “Batman”, “Goonies”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “Top Gun”, “Pirate of the Caribbean”, “Interstellar” and “Pulp Fiction” all have in common?

Simple: Amazing Assistant Directors.

A never been done before movie about Film heroes. These ADs have collected numerous stories from legendary films. These inspirational film veterans have the best advice and wisdom for those who strive to become film makers and stories that would intrigue any movie watcher.

Legendary AD’s of the most famous and Legendary movies of all time….

TRAILER

Visit the SITE

Watch on AMAZON PRIME

Buy the DVD

5 Day Weeks vs 6 Day Weeks

As a Line Producer, AD or UPM I am often tasked with the question of whether or not the film will be scheduled using a 5 Day week or a 6 Day week time frame.

In general I prefer a 5-Day week but sometimes a 6-Day week will have its advantages if the budget is really tight.

5 Day Week
Don’t have to worry about 6th day time and half pay
-Gives cast and crew adequate time to rest and recharge
-Allows Directors, ADs or Producers enough time to make critical adjustments to the following week
-Allows for enough turnaround time for actors when you are shooting splits or nights toward the end of the week

6 Day Week
Great option if you are doing a rather small shoot that lasts one or two weeks. So if you do two 6-day weeks you get 12 shoot days instead of shooting three five-day weeks. This cuts down on vendor rentals etc.
-If doing for an extended period time (more than 2 weeks) this can potentially lead to sickness within the cast/crew and fatigue

Third Option
In some cases you may want to have a hybrid of sorts. Its possible that you might decide to shoot five day weeks and then switch over to a six day week or vice versa.