Scheduling Your Production: Walking the Fine Line

Imagine for a moment that your supervisor has assigned you the task of hiring a production company to shoot some footage of your business for a brief promotional video. You type up a shot list and then start calling around to local production companies to see who might be a right fit for this particular job. But the challenge is not found in drafting the shot list, or hiring a production company. The challenge is in the scheduling.

When scheduling a production, I understand that you must walk a fine line. You need to meet your budget, but at the same time to you need to ensure that all the footage looks its best. If you schedule too many shooting days, the crew may have too much down time, and you may have an invoice that is too large. Conversely, if you don’t block off enough days, you will compromise the overall look of the footage, because you didn’t give ample time to the crew to set up each shot. Where’s the balance? Maybe a few tips will help you to better schedule your next production.

1. SCOUT YOUR LOCATIONS – Before the camera crew comes in, take the time to scout the locations wherein you would like to shoot. You may think you know the layout well, but look again. Study it. Where can the crew load and unload equipment quickly and efficiently? Where can they plug in their equipment? If you have to move to different floors in your building, are there service elevators conveniently located by each location? Knowing what will look best for your video will help speed things up when the camera crew arrives.

2. CONSOLIDATE LOCATIONS – Look at your shot list and organize it by locations. Let’s say you own a restaurant. Put all the kitchen shots together, all the bar shots together, and all the tabletop shots together. If you organize your list by location, then you can avoid jumping back and forth from the kitchen, to the bar, back to the kitchen, etc. You will save a lot of time by completing all the shots in one location and then moving to the next.

3. REMEMBER: PRODUCTION IS 75% FURNITURE MOVING – This means that it takes time to set up each shot. As you look at your list, you may think you can jump quickly from one set up to the next, but you haven’t estimated the time it will take the crew to light the shot. You should allow 30-45 minutes of set up time for each location.

4.¬†ALLOW FOR CONTINGENCY DAYS – If you think you can shoot it all in one day, you better schedule two. You never know what might happen. If you’re shooting exteriors, you might get rained out. If you’re relying on a client to give a sit-down testimonial, he may get called away at the last minute. Remember Murphy’s Law.

5. DEFINE YOUR DAY – Most production companies base their day rate on a 10-hour work day. Overtime is then usually calculated at time and a half. “Sounds great!” you think, “We can definitely shoot everything within 10 hours.” Can you? Although the production company can work a 10-hour day if need be, your location might not have the same schedule. You need to define how long a “day” will be. For example, let’s say you’re the marketing director for a private secondary school. Classes are only in session from 8am-3pm, with some extracurricular activities lasting until approximately 5pm. If you want to get footage of students, teachers, and classroom activity, your shooting day will only be around seven hours, not ten. Let’s go back to our restaurant example: If you are producing a piece for an upscale restaurant, your shoot will most likely be in the evenings, when there are more patrons in the establishment. This cuts down your day from ten hours to approximately five.

Scheduling a production can definitely be a challenge, but using these tips will help ensure that you stay on budget and that the footage shot will look its best.

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One Response to “Scheduling Your Production: Walking the Fine Line”

  1. [...] that with almost every video production, the client and producer must strike a balance between scheduling enough time for adequate coverage while staying within budget. Although consolidating certain [...]

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