This article is the third in a series about my journey to shooting a film in Europe later in 2015. You can read the previous articles here.
In last month’s post I promised to have my first self-produced short shot and I’m pleased as punch to say – it happened! Hooray! On March 20th, the first day of spring here in New York City, my little film was born. The first thing I said when we wrapped? “I can’t wait to do that again”. The post-production work is still to come, but I’m happy knowing I’m on the downhill slide.
I wanted to share a bit about what I learned during the process of pre-production and on the shoot day.
Here are some things that WORKED:
–I set myself a deadline (which was flexible within a week or two but that’s it). Shit will come up, but commitment to your vision needs to be big enough and strong enough to overcome whatever comes at you.
– I used every resource I could think of and wasn’t afraid to ask for help. People are generally pretty damn awesome and they want to help in whatever way they can. Sometimes that’s a lot, and sometimes that’s just a few words on encouragement or an offer to help next time. Either way, if you don’t ask, you will never get!
– Craigslist! I found some incredible people on Craigslist. Many of whom showed up on the day as invested as I was. Don’t underestimate the power of Craig and his list.
– I’ve volunteered and worked crew on set several times. Over the last five or so years, I’ve spent a lot of time on sets of medium budget films in a Production/Crew Assistant capacity. It proved incredibly valuable when it came time for me to be running that side of things. GO VOLUNTEER AS A PRODUCTION ASSISTANT. LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN! You may just meet some fantastic people, too.
– Treating the crew like the valuable and important people that they are. I had a very small budget, but I made sure my crew were fed several times throughout the day, were watered, caffeinated and given adequate breaks. It was important to me that I communicated to them (in words and actions) how valuable their time was.
– Doing my research as far as equipment goes and surrounding myself with a team I trusted. I’m a newbie techie so this was a great opportunity for me to learn some things about this side of the production. I don’t know if I’ll ever be into it enough to become a super techie but I think it’s important to know enough so I can make educated decisions.
– Putting in the hard yards up front so come shoot day I could be relaxed and present.
Here are some things that DID NOT WORK:
– Not putting on my Directors hat until shoot day. What do I mean by this? When I wrote the script and as I was planning the shot list, I had my Producer’s hat on i.e. ”let’s do this as efficiently and cost effectively as possible“. But when the shoot day came, I finally started to have a clearer vision for my film and on went my Director and Editor hats. Not only was I truly seeing how I wanted it to look for the first time, I also realized how worthwhile it was to take the time to get the lighting right, to get a multitude of angles and shots to give coverage and options come editing time.
– Underestimating the time required to set up each and every shot, and underestimating the number of shots. (See above.)
– Doing (almost) all of the pre-production completely on my own. Being in a new city where I didn’t know many people on the producing side of things meant doing it solo. My advice – get help if you can! Find a friend who wants to make their own stuff, too, then share the load for each others projects.
Now I get to take what I’ve learned and apply them to what’s next. “What is next, Jasmin?” you say. Well, I’m glad you asked…
- Producing Team – I know I don’t want to do this big European one alone, so finding a brilliant, willing and able Producing Team is a top priority.
- Funding – Once the producing team has begun to form, our first task will be squaring away funding options for the film.
- Local Resources – I’ve already started investigating local resources (like film schools, local filmmakers) in the European cities I’m considering filming in. Having local resources who are there “on the ground” while I’m still in NYC will be really supportive.
And, who knows, maybe I’ll shoot another short film in June/July. Maybe 🙂 Stay tuned…
Love, respect and kudos to you all. Keep up the amazing work.