“Remember that time we shot that movie?” Jennica said to her husband with tired eyes.
“What movie?” He said as he slowly drifts off to sleep…
We’ve been working on this film for 2 years. My husband and I developed, wrote, financed, kickstarted, produced, and acted in this feature. We’ve poured our whole life into this project. Including all our credit, attention, and mental ability. We are tired, hungry for real food, and giddy about the thing we are on the edge of forgetting. Here is a short list of what I ‘suggest’ you do in this exact situation…
- You don’t need to answer that text, pay that late invoice, or Instagram about it right now. If it’s between 5p and 9a, it can wait. You won’t be able to remember this wonderful experience or thoughtfully reply to the goodwill texts without a little REM to file the memories properly. I have 10 day old texts I need to get to, but I will not remember their loving message or my having responded until I take care of me.
- I loved waking up on wrapped day 1- I still smelled of chlorine and smoke (our last day was a water shoot and our wrap party was centered around a 12 foot wide harrowing bonfire in the woods). My hair & skin was like no other. It was disgusting and beautiful. I felt hung over (for obvious reasons) and had a toddler needing my attention. My eyelash extensions were knotted, the morning mountain air was devoid of any moisture, my teeth still contained graham cracker pieces, & my heart was brimming. I needed to love it and leave it. Take the time to shower and pamper yourself everyday for a while. Stress is a powerful carcinogen and it is vital that you get back into the swing of feeling right with yourself in order to stay healthy. There is a reason brides usually get sick on their honeymoon. Do not fall prey to duty’s tempting grasp. Also, go outside, brush your teeth, and stretch your back.
- Future you will be grateful. My first film left us with dozens of boxes and no idea what to do with any of it. Luckily, we learned quickly what types of props to keep for souvenirs, gifts, to put on display at premieres/festivals, what to keep on hand for pick-ups, and items that should definitely be sold or trashed. The same goes for paperwork. Paperwork can be kept (filed & stored) for a few years for various reasons. I have found that it is worth keeping almost everything until the next film is in preproduction. I used many many many forms, notes, contracts, and maps from one film to the next as ‘sample’ pages for interns, placeholders, and various other educational purposes. Digital copies do not count, paper is king in preproduction development. Digital organization is SUPER important as well. You’ll need to keep a whole second untouched version of the film as-is for storage (just in case), you’ll need to arrange, delete, & re-label all your documents for easy accessibility from here on out, and get things uploaded to an online service for easy retrieval for all other future films. You’ll need to reference every single darn thing for future films, tax purposes, & many other reasons. Now, get to sorting!
- Begin writing Thank You Cards/Emails/Texts. Your film’s credits should be a mile long in the Thank You department. Every single film made today requires a football stadium worth of gratitude. You didn’t do this alone, you couldn’t have. There is no reason not to write every single person who helped, supported, or even read about your film’s progress. These people make movies happen. You are the leader and example. If it takes you 10 more days to spread the love back- it should. They made your dreams come true, let them know that.
- Call your parents. It takes just a few minutes to call. Ask them about what’s going on in their lives. Your Mom followed everything you did online, FYI. Call your Dad, tell him you made it home safely, tell him you’re getting sleep and can’t wait to see him for lunch in a few weeks, ask about his ‘team’ and how he’s doing. Be a person. Grandma doesn’t forget about you when you’re too busy to call her.
- Write one good update about your experience and spread it everywhere. Momentum is supposed to be very important. Use it. Update that Producer team you like, those crew guys from that other film, the Director you want to work with, that casting director you have eyes on, and anyone and everyone above you. Let them know you finished shooting, you had a wonderfully life-changing experience, the film is in great shape going into post-production, and that you can’t wait to take them to lunch and catch up with them about their projects. Mean it- actually follow through in 6 months when you’ve finally gotten enough sleep and some money in your bank account.
- Brush up on ‘the rules.’ I found that, as a small time producer, I was alone in my pursuit of integrity in my relationship with SAG. In my first film’s Ultra Low Budget agreement, I found completely unattainable, unrealistic, and awful responsibilities that needed to be addressed for the duration of my 15 year long LLC/film accounting process. I was devastated to discover very few of my filmmaker peers at the time even cared about the rules. They didn’t seem to think it mattered at all and SAG wasn’t going to care about my insignificant project. Even if that were true (which I feel is completely spot on), that’s not the type of producer I am. I care about my work and know that each film is a stepping stone to the next and I wouldn’t want to be dragged down by wrongdoing year after year. AND I wouldn’t want to be clueless about aspects of my job that made me sound like an idiot when it came to shop talk with other producers at a cocktail party. Also- those completely unattainable rules in the ULB agreement are actually voted upon in SAG, wouldn’t it serve my long career better to help educate & change these things that are holding producers back from making better films?? The point is that once a film is wrapped, there are a TON of things that need to be taken care of within 30 days or things that need to be done by certain times of the year depending on your filming schedule. I finished shooting January 15th, so I have a lot of tax related work to get done by Jan 30th to stay on top of my duties. I also have a stack of papers that need to be filed, copied, scanned, and emailed to people within 1 week of wrapping.
- Go through your phone’s photos & videos. Don’t let the experience wash away. Be sure and look through your photos & share them with others on set. Text your First AD that video of him making the background audience laugh. Relive each of those moments. Remember while they are fresh. People want to hear stories, so go back and remember the best ones now so you can share the interesting, hilarious, or embarrassing stuff when folks ask you about your film you just shot.
- Catch up on your DVR & Streaming Services. So many shows are getting spoiled for me. It’s lame, but ya gotta finish that show’s finale before there is no reason to watch it. That counts for the news and stuff too. Again, be a person.
- Be prepared for the “What’s next” question. Ryan and I know exactly what’s next. We know the post-production schedule, the test audience plans, the almost completely scheduled red-carpet premiere plan, the festival plan, the distribution ‘plan,’ the next films we are developing, the life plans… there are so many next steps. People keep asking me about them- all I want to do is say “I JUST finished filming!” but then I know they ask because they care, they don’t need me to have an answer. But I do. They will ask you, have an answer. It makes you look like you’ve got your life put together or whatever. Plans change, but being the fabulous producer/storyteller that you are- you can come up with a loose idea of what comes next.