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 → producer
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.
7 gifts filmmakers will love
As the Holiday season approaches the question may arise of what should I buy that person I love that is a filmmaker? Below I have outlined 10 of the best gifts that filmmakers will be excited about in their everyday life that they will cherish at work.
- Watches. The Apple Watch Ultra or the Apple Watch Series 8 will make great stocking stuffers for any filmmaker. These newer apple watches have better health sensors are more durable and heck the ultra watch looks like a real spy device from a Bond movie.
- Software. Scriptation is a digital subscription that allows filmmakers to mark up scripts, transfer notes and more. They are having a black Friday sale and this would be a great gift without breaking the bank. Normally you would pay $79.99 annually but with this link you can save $30.
Visit http://scriptation.com/sale on an iOS device.
- Call Sheet Holder. You can’t go wrong with the traditional Gold Fold. This product has been a staple for Assistant Directors for years. Even though I like to use a tablet I still carry my leather Gold Fold because I’m less likely to break it or have it stolen when I’m walking around on set. This is the perfect device to carry call sheets, schedules, sides and write down important notes on the day.
- Books. There are several great reads out there that will inspire and equip that filmmaker you know. Check out the following books:
–Best Seat in the House: An Assistant Director Behind the Scenes of Feature Films
–Running the Show: The Essential Guide to Being a First Assistant Director
–How to Survive On Set: The Production Assistant’s Guidebook
- Tablets. The reMarkable and iPad are both great tablets for note taking, meetings and location/tech scouts. I love using the reMarkable for the majority of my notes while the iPad can come in handy when marking up overheads or looking at story boards for the next day’s scenes.
- Belt Bags. A Belt Bag might just be the missing device your filmmaker needs while on set. This everywhere bag from Lululemon can hold your phone, keys and you can carry around your waist or over your shoulder.
- Walkie Accessories. Who doesn’t need a walkie caddie, Tubeez, or FilmPro Elite Surveillance to spruce up their kit? Use the code BEST50 for everything 50% everything at https://onsetheadsets.com/shop/
Conduiit – Accounting Software to Stay Organized
A few months ago I stumbled upon some software “Conduiit” that I really wished I known about earlier.
Conduiit.app is a Cloud-based purchase order, payment request and file management system that allows production management and finance teams to work seamlessly. (taken from their website)
5 Reasons you should consider Conduiit on your next Feature or TV Series:
- The approval process can be stream-lined. Stop chasing down producers, line producers and UPMs and asking for a signature to approve a purchase. This platform does that all in one place with the click of a button.
- No more check requests without missing documents. Once logged into the platform you can see if you are missing a w9, backup or additional missing docs.
- It’s easy to use. You can train any department in a matter of minutes without having to put them through an extensive accounting course. Whoever on your project is submitting invoices (art coordinator, location coordinator, etc…) will have access to the platform to keep all their invoices in one place.
- The data can be exported into almost any accounting platform. With powerful report-building tools you can download a .csv or .xls to send to your accounting or finance team to upload into their system.
- Reduce email clutter. It can be easy to let a vendor payment slip through the cracks with emails that may or may not go answered. With this platform, everything is visible to production and accounting and thus cutting down on the famous… can you get them to send a w9 email?
Episode 31 – Brent Emery – Packaging projects and navigating film finance
In this episode we chat with Brent Emery (@brentalanemery on instagram) about packaging and financing projects.
About Brent Emery
Sundance award-winning producer Brent Emery brings over fifteen years of international film strategy and business consulting experience to Resonate Entertainment. He has worked extensively as an independent film finance, sales and production specialist at multiple executive posts, including U.S. Head of Co-Productions for ECI (a global entertainment company focused on Chinese Co-Productions) and Executive Vice President of Production and Development at Madonna’s Maverick Films.
During his seven years at Maverick Films, Emery oversaw development of a slate of over fifty studio and independent film and television projects. He also managed the deals of a dozen independent producers with deals at Maverick. Some projects that emerged from Emery’s tenure as an executive overseeing development include box office record breaking Twilight, which was eventually financed by Summit Entertainment, the hit film Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, and the young adult hit movies Agent Cody Banks I and II.
Emery’s critically acclaimed 2015 film, The Stanford Prison Experiment, won the Alfred P. Sloan Award and Waldo Salt screenwriting award at The Sundance Film Festival. The Road Within, starring Kyra Sedgwick, produced by Emery and written and directed by Emery’s wife, Gren Wells, has garnered multiple international awards, including Best Youth Film at The Rome Film Festival.
Emery recently produced Carrie Pilby with his Resonate cofounders, Suzanne Farwell and Susan Cartsonis.
About Resonate Entertainment
Resonate Entertainment is an innovative new entertainment company formed by film industry leaders who bring their unparalleled combination of creative filmmaking, technical production and film finance expertise to their company. They have a commitment to female gender representation and inclusion, and develop, finance and produce high-quality commercial films in all genres for the underserved yet highly lucrative female audience.
A guide to making an Extras Breakdown Sheet
Use this FREE extras breakdown sheet to customize for your particular show!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 17 – Alex Ferrari – Producing micro budget movies and the rise of the Filmtrepreneur
In this episode we talk with Alex Ferrari (@ifilmhustle on instagram) about producing micro budget movies and the rise of the Filmtrepreneur.
Alex is an author, blogger, speaker, consultant, the host of the #1 filmmaking podcast on iTunes the Indie Film Hustle Podcast, and an award-winning writer/director with 25 years of experience in the film industry. As a director, his films have screened in over 500 international film festivals.
Alex recently released his second book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur® How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Money Making Business.
Rise of the Filmtrepreneur: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business – http://www.filmbizbook.com
Indie Film Hustle: http://www.indiefilmhustle.com
Indie Film Hustle TV: http://www.indiefilmhustle.tv
Bulletproof Screenwriting: www.bulletproofscreenwriting.tv
On the Corner of Ego and Desire (Sundance Film): http://www.egoanddesirefilm.com
Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story): http://www.shootingforthemob.com
Episode 16 – Butch Kaplan – The role of producers, hiring practices and longevity in the film/tv industry
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
Episode 3 – Jason Roberts – An Assistant Directors insight into working with Tom Cruise, utilizing VFX and managing thousands of extras
In this episode we talk with Jason Roberts about his experience working with Tom Cruise, implementing VFX sequences and demystifying the process of managing large amounts of background actors.
Jason Roberts is a member of the DGA and works as a UPM, 1st AD, 2nd AD and is known for some very well known Tv Shows and Movies….. The Orville, Downsizing, American Made, Transformers: The Last Knight, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Jurassic World, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Collateral etc… Jason started out in the film industry working as a Production Assistant before landing a job as a DGA Trainee.