A Director often delegates the duties on a large production, but you will likely be one of few people involved in your own production unless you get hired on a bigger project in a lesser position. Location scouting, budget, funding, script preparation & shot lists have all been mentioned before throughout this blog. This step is important because it is when you get to tell everyone about your vision and how you want to see it play out. Make sure everyone understands the technical, because you don’t really want to worry about where you are putting lights n the day. It all comes down to being prepared. Even having notes on blocking and character on the ready, so you ever run out of time on a technicality. Proper planning and all ‘at. Towards the end of Pre, you will have to reconnect with everyone to ensure it is all set up and ready for filming, as that is the next portion.
Herzog on location: You direct actors and locations. You must know all the logistics so that it is easy to manage the location you choose. Try not to fake too much, when you can deliver the real. You have to be able to perform in numerous different places, in case one doesn’t work. Is it close for everyone involved, do you need a permit, have you taken sound into consideration? On my first project “A Bum Rap”, we chose a train station downtown as a location and it was hard to navigate sound, as there was a train coming by every 6 minutes and even sirens passing seemingly just as often. It can be frustrating, so take all factors into consideration. Sound is very important in filmmaking.
These are duties usually taken up by the unit production manager, but some shoots wont have those luxuries.
Herzog on SOUND: Werner helped his 8 friends make films early on. Of the 8, 3 were finished. Of the 3, one was shown because the others had sound issues. You can tell quickly if sound is immaculate or terrible. He says get a good mic and a small sound recorder and test it out yourself, one night. You should know how to handle sound and understand the problems that will arise. You gotta check your location for sound that might cause delays or even worse Lost Footage… Also blend and distort some sounds for stylization. He says, oftentimes he doesn’t even look at his actors, often just listening to the sound of the scene.
You wont likely have a Production Designer or an Art director, but their jobs are crucial, as they handle the look of the film, away from the camera. They interior decorate and build everything you will need on a big time production. This goes with the running theme of working with what you have though. You likely wont get to make a civil war movie set in space on a $10,000 budget, due to the lack of resources to a lot to these areas. These people have to be in tune with the vision you’ve been working on in PRE though, so as to make the Production fluid and smooth. Costume designer works underneath them as well
Also on “A Bum Rap”, we were filming under a bridge, and it actually was a nice clean spot. I made a good decision on the location, but on the day of shooting I caught myself thinking “damn, I should have decorated this place with more than what was here to make it look more like a home”. Like instead of the blank metal ‘walls’, have some posters up or clothes folded along the edges, making it looked lived in. that’s why you need production design/set dressing. You wont always be able to afford make-up and sets, but the dressing of each location is critical to a low budget films production value.
You have to act like a professional, so you earn the respect of everyone above and below the line. You DO gain a certain amount of that by having pieced this whole thing together on your own, but it is easily lot when you act like Troy Duffy (The Boondock Saints director). Look more into THR Directors round tables, as they are a good gauge of the action and tactics of professionals.
On the first day of shooting you will need to gather all props, costumes and special effects for the day. Also have squared always when the actors come and where you will eat (see shoot schedule/shootbook). You should send preliminary texts to them some time before, especially if you are running the whole thing. It has been noted before that a shot list is a savior, even f it is just a notepad for the day – it makes everything run smooth.
The Slate is important to organizing. It tells you the scene number, the take and the sound helps link up audio. Remember to call to ensure sound is rolling and announce the camera is rolling before saying action – so everyone is on the same page. These tasks seem easy and get annoyingly repetitive, but they will make postproduction a breeze.
Tear Book: making a collage for each character and location and putting it together in a book. Take photos from magazines, newspapers, print them, capture them yourself so you have a visual representation of what each thing is on every page.
More from the Film Connection Blog:
A lil on Editing
Motivation in Writing
Lil on Crew & Budget
Setting a Story In Motion (w/ Audio)
Genre & Conflict
Stages of Production (+Lenses)
Pura Vida in Cinema
Act 2: Escalation of Tension in Writing
Writing is Re-Writing + Composition
On The Job