A while back, I referenced that my friend Brian was looking for someone to help produce his short film. We had a chat and I was on the project.
At the end of January, I did it. I was a Producer. And a PM. And an AD. All at once.
If you're wondering why I haven't had anything to post lately, it's because I've been writing this one.
|Rehearsal. Phil and Alfredo, DOP-ing and Directing|
Best of all - it was an impressive learning opportunity.
Now, the film is edited and ready for the festival it's heading to (more on that later!) but there are a few nuggets of inspiration I'd like to share as a first-time producer:
Now, I don't mean that in the "be VERY afraid and never do it" way, but in the "I'm scared shitless and I'm doing this by the seat of my pants" kind of way.
I've read that making movies is like riding a rollercoaster. There's the initial excitement of pre-production, which is like coming up to the crest of the first hill, and then there's production, which is the ride. I can't think of a better way to describe the feeling of seeing your months of hard work come to fruition. Even if you screw up somehow, you will learn something from it - even if it's learning that you will never screw up that way again.
I had a good crew to work with, but to be honest, a good chunk of us had never done what we were doing before. I can't recommend enough jumping in headfirst to a project and learning along the way - just make sure that everyone involved knows that's exactly what you're doing.
I was lucky that I had my co-workers (producers at Breakthrough Entertainment) to help me with questions and forms, etc., but that leads to my next point...
You can't learn anything by sitting there twiddling your thumbs.
I was, as mentioned before, incredibly fortunate to have the help of several badass producer ladies in the pre-production phase of the film. Pilar Segura, Sharon Summerling and Deb Wilkinson. The educated me on budgets, scheduling, call sheets, insurance and how to deal with stress and discourse within the team. They were also very encouraging of the project and me taking the time to be involved.
I had an amazing PA by the name of Corine during the two shoot days too, who asked questions the whole time, but she got ME thinking about what I needed to do while on set. Not only did we become friends, she's working with me on my next project. It's only fair that I pay forward the knowledge I received.
MAKE FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE.
Being in the position of Producer doesn't make you friends with anyone - as they say "You don't make friends with salad"... a very loose analogy to how the Producers control the money and that means that they have to learn how to say NO.
Luckily for me, I was also acting as AD, so the AD didn't have a chance to hate me.
Seriously though, I made quite a few contacts on that set (like Corine!)
On our last day on set, after the last shot on location had been cut, I sat with several of the crew and asked what I, and the production, could have done better. It gave me a great perspective on what we should have paid attention to at the beginning of the shoot, and now I have a list that I'll be sure to bring up at the production meeting for my next project ("Soulless", but more on that later).
In conclusion - be active. You may not know what you're getting into, but you sure as hell will know when it gets out.
As a fun aside, we'll be screening our short film at the newly-branded Big Picture Cinema at Gerrard and Carlaw. You can get tickets HERE for a fun-filled night with a Q&A with the cast, crew and a raffle. $10 for entry, $20 for entry + copy of the film. See you there!