Software to manage extras from skin to wrap

Managing extras can be one of the most challenging things for any production. Its one thing to deal with a few extras on an occasional basis, however when you are on a show that is having to manage hundreds or in some cases thousands of extras…you want a system that can run smoothly and effectively. For decades productions have relied on antiquated technology using carbon copy skins that really make the process all the more challenging. Having to track paperwork, props and dealing with out times has been a source of pain and frustration for both extras and production.

Current problems of the typical paper system:
*Extends Late Nights
*Slows Call Times
*Long Check-Out Lines
*Missing, Incomplete, Sloppy Documents
*Invalid Tax Incentive Info
*Causes Grievances
*Messy for Payroll and Accounting
*Extra’s Complaints
*P.A. and A.D. Time, Effort Wasted
*Poor Communication
*No Oversight
*Morale Killing
*Limiting Legal & Payroll Compliance

RABS is the only app to manage extras from Skin to Wrap. 
*You can onboard extras in seconds.
*You can wrap instantly, all documents completed, costumes and props returned with an automatic breakdown
*Hot-cost savings, vouchers, docs, tax incentives, digitally delivered to accounting.
*Cost $600 per week and $3 per extra.

Schedule a Demo: runabetterset.com/demo

Software to distro your documents with ease

As an Assistant Director one of the many tasks I am often required to do when working as a 2nd AD is the job of creating a distro list to send out call sheets, scripts etc. These “lists” are often difficult to keep up with and can be time-consuming in many instances.

Recently I stumbled upon some software Setkeeper that not only makes the distro process pain-free it has tracking software enabled that indicates whether or not the cast/crew have received or opened their call sheet.

Setkeeper is an online subscription site designed to create sides, distro documents and act as a hub to share information (such as location photos) to your entire cast and crew. Their software is top-notch with flexible pricing plans that can fit almost any budget.

Check out the highlight video and infographic below and consider doing a test-drive!

 

https://youtu.be/pnLJCZtNo4M

Tools to organize paperwork

When setting up a mobile production office…the task to organize the mounds of paperwork can be challenging. Over the years I’ve discovered a few tools to make my life a tad easier.

Hanging File Organizer $12.99
-Buy on Amazon

 

Pendaflex Hanging Organizer $14.99
-Buy on Amazon

Fellows Workstation $7.08
-Buy on Amazon

Wonderfile Portable Workstation $34.50
-Buy on Amazon

Office Depot Large Mobile File Box $15.30
-Buy on Amazon

Why your production should use google forms

Google forms are easy to create customizable forms that will make your life easier when it comes to collecting data.  You can create them in minutes and google gives you the ability to send this data to a google doc spreadsheet that creates a seamless workflow when collaborating in a team environment.

Here are a few ways to use Google Forms for your production:

#1. Actor Info
Collect the following (email, cell, agent info, flight preference, food preference, clothing dimensions for costumes, etc).

#2 Crew Info
Collect room preference (if sharing rooms and requesting roommates) food preference, travel info, etc

#3 Volunteer Extras
Create a form to recruit extras for your production

How To Make a Google Form:

  1. Go to forms.google.com.
  2. Click Blank Add .
  3. A new form will open.
  4. Fill in the details (Create fields such as name, email, specific questions etc)
  5. Set the response destination
  6. Copy the link and send out in an email

Solutions for fast internet on set

Whether you are sending call sheets or looking at actor demo reels, fast internet is critical for any production on the road. The problem lies however with a majority of the internet carriers who like to throttle the “unlimited service” after you have used a certain amount of Data. Yes you can purchase a mifi from Verizon, At&t or Sprint…however you will either pay a ton of money for the full service or you will be frustrated with the so-called “unlimited service.”

Below are two companies I have used and trust that I would continually rent internet again from.

Walk and Talk Production Rentals

Walk and Talk are one of the few companies where you can rent a 4GB junction box that does not throttle or slow down and can connect up to 100 people. Average price is $75/per week and they will even ship out to you if you are outside Los Angeles.

WIFIRENTS

wifirents is great for productions that don’t need fast internet and need a temporary internet solution while on the road. This is one of the few companies that charges by the day so you can keep the cost down.

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

7 avenues to finding local crew

I often travel all across the United States working primarily as a Line Producer / Unit Production Manager or 1st AD and tasked with the challenge of finding local crew and extras.

Here are 7 Avenues to finding local crew and extras.

  1. Facebook. Whenever I travel to a city outside of Los Angeles I make sure to try and discover any and all film, acting facebook groups or pages that may exist within the city or state. I attempt to join these pages and then use these groups as a platform for possible job posts for crew or even extras.  It could even be a movie enthusiast group that I join that later turns into a source of qualified PAs.
  2. CraigslistI might post a job under the crew section under gigs (free) or post a (paid) job under the TV/Film category. Because these sections don’t typically get as much traffic in cities outside Los Angeles often I will post these pretty early on. Sometimes I will do one job posting for 20 jobs and other times I will post specifically for a position that I can’t seem to fill like a Props Person etc.  I might find local states that I know have a large film market such as Georgia and post in their CL section if I am shooting one or two states away because I know the crew base in Alabama is not going to be that large.
  3. Staff Me Up or Mandy.  Both of these sites are pretty similar. Staff Me Up tends to cater toward reality and docs although there are some narrative jobs on there as well. I tend to like the interface of Staff Me Up better and the ability to find people with qualified credits can be pretty handy.
  4. The State Film Commission. Depending on which state you are shooting, the State Film Commission can really be your friend in pointing you in the right direction. They may know of existing crew or even have a website with a crew hotline.
  5. Film Schools. I make an effort to reach out to local film schools and see if they have any recent Grads or students who might be interested in working as interns or Production Assistants. This works better if your film is shooting in the summer as most of the time the students are in session and its hard for them to take off of school.
  6. Locals. Building relationships with key locals both in the community and city hall can be pretty helpful. During one production I was on I was able to friend a pastor of the church we were shooting at and he was able to help connect us with a lady that ended up working as our craft service person.
  7. The News. Sometimes the local news in a small city/county can be a huge asset. On multiple occasions I’ve worked with the news when trying to find hundreds of volunteer extras and every time this has proven to work quite well. I typically send them a link to a google form I have created for extras to sign up which they include in an article about the film.

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.

A guide to finding background actors in a rural area

Occasionally I have the opportunity to travel and work on films that are shooting around the world. One of the challenging factors I have faced when shooting in a city or state that does not have a huge talent pool is finding background actors.

Most recently I filmed a movie in Kentucky and was tasked with the assignment of finding hundreds of volunteers to be background actors in our film. Because the budget was very tight the budget I had for background actors was used to feed them and hire someone to help me find them.

Here are the steps I did to recruit hundreds of volunteers in a small town in Kentucky:

  1. Create a generic email address nameofmovie@gmail.com. Use this email for all correspondence with the background actors. You don’t want to give out your personal email account because you may have several people logging into this email to reply and stay updated with the correspondence.
  2. Create a sign up form using google forms or another online form maker. I tend to use google forms but I realize there are probably additional sites out there that would be great for this. In the form you want to include name, email, phone, gender, age, photo link, if minor parent’s info, roles interested in and dates available.  This form will give you a link that you can send out. Make sure to include the title of the film, a logline and something enticing starring “Denzel Washington” etc..
  3. Send out a sign up link to various groups and organizations. Depending on the type of project I would try and partner with similar organizations who might want to help. I was working on a faith based movie so we contacted a dozen churches and asked to see if they could include this link in their e-newsletter or on their church’s facebook page. I also joined local facebook pages to the city and state that were related to film/acting/movies. I contacted the local news organization who was able to do a story on us and they were able to post the link as well. As it got closer to doing one of the school scenes I was able to talk to the communications person at one of the schools who was kind enough to post the link on the school’s facebook page. Was this a lot of work? Yes. Did it work? Yes. I actually got hundreds of people to sign up and the link was part of the key. It made it easy for them to sign up because it was simple and provided a sign-up process that was very straightforward.
  4. Sign up people in person. As much as I love digital forms and technology I believe that there is something to be said for going old school and taking a personable approach. I contacted a local high school and was able to do a presentation with the theater class. After the session was over I had nearly a dozen students sign up to be extras. Old school worked!
  5. Figure out who will handle the communication. If your film has between 20-30 extras throughout your entire film its very possible that the 2nd AD can handle the communication between all the extras. If for example your film has several hundred or even thousands of extras you will most likely want to hire a person to take this workload off the 2nd AD’s shoulders. Anytime I can afford an official Background Casting Director or Background Casting Company I always do it. If however you are shooting in a rural area your options may be very limited. It is at this point that you can hire an office PA and train them how to do the job.
  6. Create a facebook group. Create a secrete facebook group just for your film. Invite everyone who has signed up to be an extra in your film and occasionally post last minute needs in the group. This is something I wish I had done on previous films and plan to do in the future.
  7. Communicate clearly with the background. We chose to confirm twice with most of our background actors. Because the people we were working with were volunteers things would come up, people would get sick and so confirmations were essential. Its a good idea to book about 10-15 more people than you actually need because you will typically have a few drop out last minute if they are not paid. I like the idea of emailing background two days before the shoot day to confirm their availability and then the day before to give them all the details such as date, time, location, wardrobe info and things they should know. I give them specifics such as  how long they will be on set, if there will be food provided and other details etc. In the second email I give them a deadline to reply to. Once this deadline is passed we begin to text those who have not confirmed the second time to see if they are still planning on coming.