In this episode we speak with Rose Beale (@laurenrosebeale on Instagram) about using people skills when solving problems and working in production. Rose has worked as a Production Coordinator, Supervisor & Production Manager on numerous film and tv shows. Some of her credits include Just Mercy, The First Purge, Kidnap, LBJ, The Expendables 2 and many more…
Posts Tagged → dga
Setting up accounting solutions for a low budget movie
Whenever I’m hired as a Line Producer on a low budget movie under $1M I try and do most of the accounting myself and utilize the help of my production team to maintain the books. I’m not against having an accountant…it’s just that I want to try and put as much money on screen as possible.
Here are a few tools I like to use:
This is the main accounting platform I use for most low budget films. At the beginning of the project I sign up for the pro account with 5 users and upload a COA “Chart of Accounts” to the platform. Anytime expenses come in I’m able to easily code them using the category feature. The great thing about using Quickbooks is that it is such a universal program you don’t necessarily need a film accountant to run it. If at anytime you do run into issues you can always hire a virtual accountant that is well versed in this program. I typically train a few of my office team members to help reconcile transactions and then I focus on the larger transactions such as wires etc. It’s possible to send ACH payments to vendors, run cost reports, balance sheets and more.
I have found this platform to be the easiest-to-use film payroll platform for smaller projects. Adding cast or crew to the portal is super simple and it even connects to quickbooks. Most payroll companies require a back and forth with a payroll master that can take days….whereas with Wrapbook you can run payroll in less than an hour once everything is reviewed.
PEX is a simple p-card solution you can use to control spending with numerous cards and variable spending limits. PEX also integrates seamlessly with Quickbooks which is another plus. You can typically get approved with PEX in a matter of days and they are great about sending cards quickly. With the PEX app most of your crew should be able to reconcile transactions by taking pictures of receipts within a matter of minutes.
Conduiit is an online accounting solution that will help your team track check requests, wires and pos for approval. I’ve used this platform on numerous shows and it really helps me to stay organized and focused on what’s missing.
*Conduiit will be able to integrate with Quickbooks in the coming weeks.
Creating shared values with your film crew
Prior to working in the film industry I worked for several non-profits for years at a time. During that time I worked closely with several of the employees who quickly became friends and I was able to see how they worked and what their quirks were. There were even many times that we would do team-bonding events and learn about each others strengths/weaknesses and sometimes personality profiles.
The secret to really sharing the same values was having the time to get to know each other and learn how everyone likes to work.
In the film industry one problem is the often short-term approach to working together. Whether its a commercial, music video, feature or pilot… Crew members are often forced to quickly adapt to new people and new ways of doing things in their approach to work. Sometimes this type of immersion works and sometimes personalities will clash. It’s not a bad thing to work with new people and discover new ways of doing things, however at the end of the day there can be challenges with new personalities when a culture is never established early on.
One thing that I am determined to do this year is to try and establish shared values early on whether with a dept of three or an entire crew. Your values may change based on the type/size of the project or the people involved.
Below I have listed a few of the values I aim to bring with me on the next project.
#1. Accomplish this week’s tasks like you were going to eat an elephant.
Don’t get overwhelmed. List the tasks you need to do and do everything one thing at a time.
#2. Imagine if this cast member was Tom Cruise….
If you were dealing with Tom Cruise would you point to the dressing room or trailer and say Tom its over there or would you walk with him and hold the door? Even if your actors are not famous or celebrities…how can you treat them in a way that makes them feel special.
#3. Pay people like they have $100 in the bank.
Whether or not people have $100 in the bank is not the issue. Imagine that that there is a crew member or extra that needs that paycheck to pay their rent or car payment or whatever…. Now sometimes there are delays in payments because of an ACH or payroll issue…but having this value among your accounting team is important to instill.
#4. Master the art of sending clear, concise and creative emails.
Take the time to craft emails so they look professional and are informative. Look for typos, errors and info that may not need to be included. Lengthy emails can be too cumbersome to be read and may be a waist of time.
#5. Focus on what is urgent important today that only you can do.
When you are faced with 100 tasks its vital that you and your team divide and conquer. You don’t want to spin your wheels doing everything when you have people on your team to focus on the tasks that they can specialize in.
#6. Relentlessly follow up with that unanswered question until it’s answered.
Occasionally there will be a question that someone poses via email/text etc. Don’t let it go unanswered. Get back to them and try and find the answer with an appropriate amount of time.
#7. Remember that someones lack of preparation on their part does not constitute an emergency on yours.
This famous saying is so important to remember because emergencies will come to us everyday…but we can’t always drop everything we are doing to attend to the emergency.
#8. Telling a great story sometimes mean you go over schedule or budget.
Yes I like staying on schedule and under budget, however at the end of the day no one will care if the project is lousy. Look for ways to tell a better story and be willing to adjust the schedule/budget in favor of the story.
#9. Create sacred space to share issues.
Whenever there are issues between crew members or cast its important to pull people aside and talk through the issues calmly. Avoid yelling in front of the entire crew or making a scene….this never ends well
You can use one or more of these shared values at the beginning of your production. Feel free to make up your own and mix them together. Write them on a wall or whiteboard somewhere. Don’t feel like you have to lecture the entire crew with a set of shared values. Maybe share a few of them with someone in your dept or ask a team member what values they want to instill in the crew.
Episode 33 – David Venghaus Jr. – Working as an AD on virtual productions
Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify
In this episode we talk with David H. Venghaus Jr. (@davidvenghaus on instagram) about his his experience working as an AD on films that encompass VFX, Virtual Production and new technology.
Dave is a veteran DGA 1st Assistant Director who has worked on countless movies. A few of the films that Dave has worked on include two of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, A Quiet Place Part II, Spider-Man: No Way Home and many more…
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.
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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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
What does a 2nd AD do besides make a call sheet?
Crew members who work as 2nd Assistant Directors fill one of the most critical roles on any film set. The 2nd AD acts as a bridge between the “set” and the “basecamp” and while they are known for creating the call sheet, their duties extend into other areas of production that are vital for a set to operate efficiently.
The below information was complied by the Directors Guild of America:
2nd AD Duties
- Prepare the call sheets, handle extras, requisitions, and other required documents for approval by the 1st AD, the UPM and/or the production office.
- Prepare the daily production report and end of day paper work.
- Distribute scripts and script changes (after shooting has started) to cast and crew.
- Distribute call sheets to cast and crew.
- Distribute, collect, and approve extra vouchers, placing adjustments as directed by the 1st AD on the vouchers.
- Communicate advance scheduling to cast and crew.
- Aid in the scouting, surveying and managing of locations (mandatory in New York and Chicago)
- Facilitate transportation of equipment and personnel.
- May be required to secure execution of minor cast contracts, extra releases, and on occasion to secure execution of contracts by talent. (May also be delegated to 1st AD and UPM.)
- Coordinate with production staff so that all elements, including cast, crew and extras, are ready at the beginning of the day, and supervise the wrap in the studio and on location (local and distant).
- Schedule food, lodging and other facilities.
- Sign cast members in and out.
- Maintain liaison between UPM and/or the production office and the 1st AD on the set.
- Assist the 1st AD in the direction and placement of background action and in the supervision of crowd control.
- Perform crowd control in New York and Los Angeles except where the work is customarily performed by police officers or is performed by security personnel or a facility at which the photography takes place and which requires or customarily provides this service; provided, however, persons not covered by the Basic Agreement may perform such work if at least two additional 2nd ADs are employed in addition to a Key 2nd AD and 2nd 2nd AD or two Key 2nd ADs
- Supervise and direct the work of any Trainee or Intern assigned to the picture.
- May assist in the proper distribution and documentation of milage money by the Producer’s appointed representative.
An employer may not unreasonably deny a request from a UPM or 1st AD for another 2nd Assistant Director. BA 13-202 (b).
New Podcast – Episode 1 – Paul Garnes – Lessons from a seasoned UPM / Line Producer
I’ve started a brand new film/tv podcast that is all about production “Go For Production.” I hope you enjoy the first episode and stay tuned for exciting new guests!
Paul Garnes (@paulgarnes on instagram) has served as a producer, line producer and/or production manager on films and television series for Disney, Dreamworks, HBO, ABC, NBC, BET, Sony/Screen Gems, Magnolia Films, and Paramount Pictures.
A graduate of Chicago’s Columbia College, Garnes has worked as Vice President of Operations and Production for Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx’s Foxx/King Productions and Head of Production for Simmons-Lathan Media Group.
In 2006, Garnes was recruited by Tyler Perry and Reuben Cannon to join the Tyler Perry Company where he served as Vice President and Executive in Charge of Production until 2009, overseeing the creation of its multi-million dollar studio and backlot. In addition to daily operations, Garnes supervised over 250 episodes of broadcast television while at the studio.
Paul was the Executive Producer of the film Selma that was nominated for the 2015 Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Original Song, and won a 2015 Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
Recently Paul served as the Line Producer of ABC’s Cloak and Dagger and is currently working as the Line Producer and Executive Producer to the series Queen Sugar which is part of the OWN Network.
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…
Visit the Employers section of the DGA website.
Click Learn more about Becoming Signatory.
- 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
- Intended Initial Release
- Company contact information: Name, Title, telephone, email, website
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.
Email the packet to firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
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.