Monday Prescriptions – 4 Mistakes Even Seasoned Filmmakers Make

Hello Film Doctor friends.

So, it looks like we’ve found our way into another full-on week – please bear with us, if our replies are delayed. What do you have planned for this next few days? Looking forward to reading your shared Tweets & Facebook messages.

 

Film Doctor Mistakes You Can Make

 

In this new Monday Prescription post we’d like to highlight some mistakes, common to emerging and seasoned filmmakers alike – 4 issues that everyone is prone to encountering at some point, and should be ready to face:

 
  • Under budgeting – Always budget for more than you might realistically need. It’s called ‘contingencies’. Once you get the knack of production budgets, it will just come naturally to you, but the risk to omit certain expense pars or under budget for certain production ‘tools’ is always there.
  • Ignore the sound – Directors of any walk of life & level of experience often tend to neglect the audio part of their project. The first mistake is to not get excellent sound recordings on the day. The second mistake is to understate the amount of work that goes into audio post-production. It’s not just about laying in ambience and dialogue – there is mastering, mixing, SFX to be considered. You might want an original score composed. You might need some of the lines re-recorded. It’s simply wrong to have 6 weeks of picture editing and only 1 week of sound editing – what justice would that do to your film, which is, after all, an audio-visual medium? So make sure to have a balanced post-production schedule, which allows enough time for both sides of editing.
  • ‘Post-take’ checklist – Last shot of the day, the “perfect take”, everyone’s done a great job and you’re wrapping up. The equipment is all dismantled and packed, and you’re ready to hit the road. Hold on a second! Have you checked whether all your mics were on and the audio is actually properly recorded? Have you checked that the dailies are all properly transferred and logged, and you won’t suddenly miss “the best shot of the day”? Even experienced with umpteenth number of productions one can be faced with a technical error – sometimes due to that very confidence that you have done a few projects.  It is essential to keep a certain “post-take” checklist in your head – or even on your phone/tablet/notepad, with a reminder set for the end of every shooting day.  In addition, if shooting on location, it’s imperative to have a Location Manager (or, if your budget is tight, the Producer) do a “walk-through” – inventory, notes & pictures on the before/after state of the location, ensuring everything is left as is.
  • The Human Factor – And ultimately, everything, including the aforementioned points, comes down to the people who work with/for you on the production. Ignoring “the human factor” can create not just tension but outright crisis – from botched camera set-ups to actors walking off sets. Whether you’re “above the line”, cast or crew, the one mistake you should foresee and avoid is not taking into consideration the importance of other people involved – their roles, their moods, your interaction & communication with them. Get it right!
 

‘Monday Prescription’ No.98 – Even seasoned filmmakers make some silly but costly mistakes now & then. The key is to a). create a checklist or workflow chart , b). learn from your mistakes, c). be prepared for mistakes to happen.

 
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Have a great week!
 
The Film Doctor Team
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