Episode 25 – Abe Martinez – The value of mentorship and building relationships that matter

Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

In this episode we talk with Abe Martinez about mentorship and building relationships that matter.
Abraham Martinez (_abemartinez_ on instagram) is a Director of Photography who has traveled across the world to nearly 60 countries. He started out working on many studio feature films in Hollywood within the camera department on movies such as Flight Plan, Spider-Man 3, and Fast and Furious to name a few.
Abe recently broke ground in television filming two shows back to back, Queen of the South and The Chi. He has experience filming internationally and has shot two independent feature films overseas, in India and Kenya. While on location in Kenya, along with his wife and two boys, Abraham resourcefully produced a children’s show pilot targeting vulnerable children. Working on films has proved more than simply an adventurous career but has triggered a passion to impact culture and shoot compelling stories along the way.

Episode 22 – Gad Tisch – CEO of Croo Gloo discusses strategies for using technology to solve problems

Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

In this episode we talk with Gad Tisch.
Gad is the founder and president of Croogloo a film and television operations platform. He has a background in film production having worked on numerous films and tv shows. Currently Gad has a mission to remedy inefficient productions and costly practices by centralizing productions to unlock data and generate tax credits.
Visit their website

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.

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

  1. Prepare the call sheets, handle extras, requisitions, and other required documents for approval by the 1st AD, the UPM and/or the production office.
  2. Prepare the daily production report and end of day paper work.
  3. Distribute scripts and script changes (after shooting has started) to cast and crew.
  4. Distribute call sheets to cast and crew.
  5. Distribute, collect, and approve extra vouchers, placing adjustments as directed by the 1st AD on the vouchers.
  6. Communicate advance scheduling to cast and crew.
  7. Aid in the scouting, surveying and managing of locations (mandatory in New York and Chicago)
  8. Facilitate transportation of equipment and personnel.
  9. 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.)
  10. 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).
  11. Schedule food, lodging and other facilities.
  12. Sign cast members in and out.
  13. Maintain liaison between UPM and/or the production office and the 1st AD on the set.
  14. Assist the 1st AD in the direction and placement of background action and in the supervision of crowd control.
  15. 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
  16. Supervise and direct the work of any Trainee or Intern assigned to the picture.
  17. 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).

How to run an effective production meeting

A production meeting often called a page-turn is one of the most important meetings any film or tv show can have prior to shooting. These meetings can vary depending on the size and scope of the project, however in general they look very similar. Below are some ideas for running a mtg for a typical low budget project.

  1. Schedule the Meeting. Inform the people attending the meeting a few weeks out and be sure to collect RSVPs. This assures that you will have the right people attending and can answer as many questions as possible. Make sure your crew are aware of how long the meeting will last ie…6 hours etc.. If shooting on location you may want to wait till you have a majority of the Depts on the ground to have the meeting…so generally one or two weeks before filming. If filming a larger movie or tv-show there may be multiple meetings early on. In general its ideal if you can have this meeting the day after a tech-scout because the Dept Heads have seen the locations and this will inform the meeting greatly.
  2. Decide who will and who will not attend. Generally this meeting is reserved for department heads and certain above the line folk, however certain productions may call for various personal. Depending on the size of your meeting space you may also be limited in space on who you can actually fit in the meeting. Suggestions for who to include are the following (Producer(s), Director, Line Producer, UPM, Production Supervisor, AUPM, Script Supervisor, DOP, Gaffer, Key Grip, Production Designer, Art Director, Prop Master, Set Decorator, Costume Designer, Costume Supervisor, Construction Coordinator, Location Manager, Assistant Location Manager, 1st AD, 2nd AD, Stunt Coordinator, SPFX Coordinator, VFX Producer, Transportation Coordinator, Sound Mixer, Key Makeup Artist, Key Hair Stylist, Editor and Post Producer)
  3. Have updated scripts. Send out an email a few days before the meeting and get a count of who will need a physical script. Encourage laptop/iPad use to save the forest and to avoid over-printing scripts. Scripts should be hole-punched and fastened with brads. Coordinate with the writer and director to make sure the latest edits are in this draft.
  4. Offer drinks and food. Its a good idea to offer a breakfast / lunch and have crafty type foods and drinks throughout the meeting. This will make your staff feel taken care of and allow everyone to be focused on the meeting and not their hunger pains.
  5. Setup the meeting room in advance. You may have a dozen people with laptops and electronic devices so make sure there is enough power outlets and strips for people to work effectively. Print out the wifi/password and have listed in the room. In addition to having a supply of scripts you may want to have additional materials such as one-liners, crew lists etc at the meeting.
  6. Do intros at the beginning of the meeting. For some shows this may be the first time that some of the crew members are meeting each other. Take a minute to allow everyone to introduce themself by saying their name and title. In some cases it may be great to place name-tags with titles for where each person should sit.`
  7. Consider using a TV Monitor for visual support. If you have a scene(s) that need details explaining it can be helpful to have visual aids such as story-boards etc.. This can be especially helpful if the movie is very vfx/stunt heavy and you want to talk about certain action sequences.
  8. Setup how the meeting will run at the beginning of the meeting. Typically the 1st AD will run the meeting, talk about how much time they have allotted and keep everyone on track. Normally the 1st AD will go scene by scene in script order and will read or paraphrase the descriptions of each scene. After the 1st AD talks about each scene it is a good time to ask questions or point out problems from various departments. If there is an issue that takes longer than a few minutes to solve in the meeting it is a good idea to say “sidebar” and discuss after with the pertinent people it pertains to.
  9. Take Notes. Consider having someone take notes on their computer throughout the meeting and keep track of side-bars. This person can then email the notes after the meeting to everyone who attended.
  10. Come up with Solutions. Its important to come up with solutions and action-steps at this meeting and not just address problems or concerns. Make sure that at the end of the meeting everyone has a clear idea of what problems remain and who is the person appointed to solve these problems.

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***

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

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.