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 16 – Butch Kaplan – The role of producers, hiring practices and longevity in the film/tv industry

Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

In this episode we talk with Butch Kaplan about the various roles of producers, hiring practices and maintaining longevity in the film/tv industry

Butch (@butchkaplan on instagram) has been working as a Producer & Production Manager in Film and Television for over 30 years. Some of Butch’s credits include Fear The Walking Dead, John Q,  The Notebook, Alpha Dog, Bablyon AD and Oldboy.

Mentioned in the Podcast

Links

Artemis Viewfinder

Episode 15 – Matt Compton – Budgeting short-form content and using email effectively in production

Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

In this episode we talk with Matt Compton about budgeting short form content and being strategic about using email as a communication tool.

Matt (@mattcproducer on twitter) has been working as a Producer & Production Manager in Film and Television for over 20 years.  He began his career with the independent feature film “Dreamers” in 1999. From there, Matt has served as either a Producer or Production Manager on many other feature films, including “Slip Dream”, “Callback”, “The Hillside Strangler”, “Altered”, “Seventh Moon”, and “Midnight Son”.

In addition to feature films, Matt has also worked on various promos and commercials.  His promos include spots for Disney Channel, Disney XD, Toon Disney, Playboy Television, and Animal Planet.  He’s also Produced two Public Service Announcements for The Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

For Television, Matt has produced the specials “The Burkittsville 7” for Showtime, “The B.P.R.D. Declassified” for Sony TV/FX, and “Disney Channel’s Cast Party: Andi Mack” for Disney Channel.

Recently Matt developed a budgeting and actualizing app for short form productions called True Budget.

Mentioned in the Podcast

Links

LA 411

True Budget

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

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!

Listen on iTunes or Spotify

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.

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)

Tools to go digital with paperwork

Whenever I work as a Line Producer or UPM one of the things I try and avoid is dealing with actual physical paperwork. In general I have found that while I know how to sign a .pdf…. 90% of people don’t. Yes I can teach people how to sign a pdf, however when you are having to deal with hundreds of signatures who really has the time to educate people or wait for them to sign that document you sent two weeks ago.  Hellosign and Hellotim are two amazing services that can help bring your production into the digital age.

 

Tool #1: Hellosign

Hellosign promises to be an easy-to-use cloud based software that allows you to sign documents with ease.


I use this software to do the following:

  1. Collect info and signatures for Cast (deals, w9s and misc documents)
  2. Collect info and signatures for Crew
  3. Get location contracts signed
  4. Give access to multiple team members to control who receives paperwork
  5. Create templates that speed up the process and can be used over and over again
  6. Fill out and sign applications or signatory information

 

Tool #2: Hellotim

 

While I haven’t personally used TIM I honestly love the concept and plan to dive into the software at some point.

TiM makes digital onboarding easy, intuitive and secure by streamlining and centralizing all required tasks. Let TiM handle digital onboarding while the Studio/Production Company continues to focus on bringing creative content to an ever-expanding market.

For UPMs and accountants, TiM makes the process of tracking and approving startwork effortless and efficient by decreasing human error and enabling electronic approval from any device. TiM saves time, paper, and the production money.

***One thing to note is that TIM is designed specifically for Film/TV and even integrates with payroll companies***