Interview with Line Producer Alton Walpole (Crazy Heart, The Spirit, Baraka)

A unit production manager (UPM) is responsible for the administration of a feature film or TV production.

A line producer is a type of film producer that functions as the key manager during the daily operations of a feature film, television film or an episode of a TV show.

I was honored to sit down with a veteran in the industry who simply knows how to put all of the right pieces together to make a great film. He’s been credited on working as a Line Producer and/or Unit Production Manager on over 40 productions, which, anyone in the biz will tell you, are the toughest jobs in the Film/TV industry. The amazing part of that is that he sometimes does both jobs at once in a single production.

alton_walpole.jpgMatthew Toffolo: You’ve worked on over 50 productions in the last 35 years, do you have a film or two that you’re most proud of?

Alton Walpole: “Crazy Heart” (no extraneous talk about how “good” it was, just everyone doing their job the best they could) and “Rx” (extremely challenging budget).

Matthew: You started off in the lighting department and also dabbled in camera, editing and art direction. How did you move into the world of Production Management and Line Producing?

Alton: First jobs were Prop Maker (Carpenter), Prop Master and Grip. Did a lot of other jobs as years progressed. When I was asked to work on “Koyaanisqatsi” as an Asst Editor the first part of the task was coordination & management, so I got involved with “reshoots” and budgeting….this led to involvement in Line Producing (primarily budget estimates) and Production Management (implementing the plan, including hiring and organization).

Matthew: You’ve worked on many documentaries, including the magnificent “Baraka (1992).” Are docs something you have a strong passion for?

Alton: Yes, I still have a large curiosity and interest with “real life” events and the drama of “reality” that surrounds documentary film making.

Matthew: Tell us about the film industry scene in New Mexico? I hear the state is very close to your heart and that you’re the man to go to if you want to film there.

Alton: New Mexico had the first state managed film office in the US. Now all states have a film offices. The rebate program in New Mexico was also very “thought out” and organized. The legislation, although it has gone thru several minor revisions, was very thorough, equitable and constructed for the long run. It is a very fair program for both state residents, government and the financiers. I do all I can to support this.

Matthew: What is the difference between a Line Producer and Production Manager?

Alton: A Line Producer generates the budget estimate and production plan, A Unit Production Manager implements it. If you do both there is no one else to blame for any error.

Matthew: What are the key personality traits needed to be a good producer?

Alton: Understanding the large financial investment of a financier as well as the working conditions and fairness to each employee….so I would imagine the main trait is always trying to be fair to all parties involved.

Matthew: You work hard on a movie for months and you never know how it’s going to be perceived by the audience, or how much the studios are going to market/push it. Is there a film or two that you’ve worked on that you’re shocked wasn’t that successful? I’m thinking “The Spirit”. Such a unique film that seemed to have come a few years too early, before that type of style became a trend. If that film comes out in 2012, it’s a monster hit.

Alton: This is true. The idea is to make a film within the budget restrictions….there is never enough time or enough money…..and not sacrifice the story or content of the proposed production. There are many other factors that effect the final film….editing and of course promotion by the distributor…..trick is not to “over sell” or “under sell”.

Matthew: What’s the key difference when working on a major studio film like “The Book of Eli”, or “The Magnificent Seven”, in comparison to a smaller budget film like “Crazy Heart” or “Job”?

Alton: Main difference is that there are more people involved in the reports (studio executives, financiers, etc) … the process of actually making the film is the same for all budgets.

Matthew: What personality traits are you looking for when you hire your production team?

Alton: The job is hard enough work, so people that are efficient with the work is always first but a very close second trait is people that are “easy” to work with….kind & honest. So the work environment is not a burden and a place you like to go each day.

Matthew: What film, besides the films you’ve worked on, have you seen the most in your life?

Alton: “Lonely Are The Brave” remains one of my favorite films. Have always been a film buff, member of many film clubs and watched lots of relatively obscure films in my youth……still like independent films that are personally made with lot’s of enthusiasm.

Matthew: Do you a have mentor?

Alton: My primary mentor was Sebastian Schroeder (from Switzerland). He was a guest architectural design professor I had in college at the University of New Mexico when I was a student studying architecture. My first involvement with film production was with him in the summer…a documentary on mobile home p arks..16mm….titled “When The Chips are Down”…..played a lot in Europe. Have stayed in contact with him, in fact he just visited me a month or so ago. I remember him always saying “do not drive a small nail with a large hammer”.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Graphic Designer Tina Charad (Maleficent, Fifty Shades of Grey)

Graphic Designer creates the props and set-pieces for film productions and works directly with the Production Designer. Depending on the period and genre, these can be newspapers, love letters, shop signs, posters, cigarette boxes, logos. Basically, they create the original materials needed for a film that haven’t yet been invented.  

I was fortunate enough to interview the extremely talented Graphic Designer Tina Charad. In the last 10 years she has worked on over 30 productions including the films “Robin Hood”, “Edge of Tomorrow”, “World War Z”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “The Fifth Wave”, and “RocknRolla”.

Matthew Toffolo: Is there a film or two that you’re most proud of?

Tina: Well, in terms of pure indulgence, of being spoilt and designing beauty day after day, it would be 47 Ronin. Perhaps Maleficent too – for the same reasons.

Tina created images in the film “47 Ronin”:
47_ronin_image

Matthew: How long do you generally work on a film? How early do you come on in pre-production? Do you stay until the end of filming?

Tina: It really does depend. On the whole, a large studio film in the UK could be 9/10 months work. The prep time is longer as is the shooting schedule. I have worked both in the UK, where I started and the US, where I now live. In the UK the Graphic Designer is really responsible for a large amount more work than the US. That may sound bizarre in terms of the work load varying but in the US there are a lot more print houses and production places that can facilitate some of the graphic design parts where as in the UK, the Graphic Designer creates all the Art department, set dec & prop pieces – no matter how big or small.

Matthew: What’s the difference when working on different genres? From a straight up drama like “Body of Lies”, to a pure fantasy like “Maleficent”?

Tina: Well there is a huge difference. With something like BOL, you’re not creating fantasy. Often you are recreating reality but in a different location. So you’re making mobile phone stores, embassy clinics, roads signage. They are a huge part of what makes the film real, but not wildly creative. You have to be on the nose accurate, especially when working in foreign languages and alphabet like that film. We shot in Morocco, but were predominantly set in Jordan. The Arabic is different in these two countries. I had to have a translator who knew the differences. I then had to set about researching contemporary Arabic branding and identities as you would in the US. I had to create large scale banks and corporations but in Arabic. I spent a lot of money purchasing good contemporary Arabic fonts.
With Maleficent, I was re-united with a favorite designer. He wanted me to create a large scale tapestry for Sleeping Beauty’s bedroom. Whilst there were suggestions of medieval tapestries etc thrown in, he was very clear that he wanted to design something original. Also he pointed out that we were not a historical film, but a fantasy and the tapestry should show that. I think the brief was “Grayson Perry Meets Flemish”. So I worked on a fantastical forest scape that was a day and night scene. It has a wealth of lovely references and feels both fresh and stylistically fitted the brief.

Tina created the Sleeping Beauty bedroom images in “Maleficent”
malficifent_bedroom

Matthew: What about your experiences working on “American Ultra” or “The Crazy Ones” TV show? Is a straight up comedy an entirely different experience? Is your creative process all about making people laugh?

Tina: Well to be fair, In American Ultra I was doing reshoots especially of all the insert work. The producers and director found that the stuff didn’t work once they had shot it. For many reasons it had to all be recreated so it wasn’t really humorous at that point. You are just trying to get all these pieces and stick them together. In fact I didn’t get the script for that so I had no idea it was a comedy. It all seemed like a typical spy caper to me at the time.

I did a little on The Crazy Ones as they wanted to elevate the look and feel of the show. I had also worked at Leo Burnett where the show was supposedly based on. Despite what the designer hoped for, there is still only so much you can do with a comedy show – the jokes have to be pretty brash and in your face. No room for subtlety. It’s not my best genre – TV comedy. I find myself always fighting for the more subtle joke, and losing…

Matthew: What is the most challenging aspect of being a graphic designer?

Tina: Going to have to be clearances & the legal side.

Matthew: I have to ask you about the “Fifty Shades of Grey”
experience?

Tina: One of the most anticipated films of 2015. Were your design themes all about power and sex?

I started with David Wasco before any other art department. Initially we worked on researching the sex furniture for the red room of pain. David knows that I can do illustrative work so I looked at initial pieces of what these key pieces of furniture would look like. I have worked for a lot of designers sourcing reference and style imagery so we looked at humanizing the story. The book is pretty 2 dimensional as are the characters, so between Sam the director and David, they wanted to add life into it. In terms of the graphics in that film, trying to design a logo that doesn’t look like a film graphic and that could carry through 3 films and maybe 5 years without looking dated or getting changed, was a challenge. But I did several passes at first and Sam knew straight away which to choose. That initial Grey Enterprises logo is what Universal based their entire marketing campaign on. The other key logo was SIP – Seattle Publishing which actually didn’t make it into the film but is a key part of book2. I bet they use a new logo but that would be a huge pity. I rather liked my SIP work!

Tina’s created logos for “Fifty Shades of Grey”:
fifty_shades_of_grey_image

Matthew: You worked as a Graphic Designer on the David Fincher directed music video “Justin Timberlake Ft. Jay-Z: Suit & Tie”. How long did you work on the video, what did you do, and how was working with so many iconic people?

Tina: Good Question! I watched the video again to remind myself. Well that and sifted through my back up folders. I remembered doing a lot of etched mirror and glass for that video and sets. I remember there was a nightclub that was branded (signage, props etc) and had an old rat pack feel. What one has to remember is what is in the final edit does not show what was made. We prepare for what is initially discussed but things can change on the shoot day, the director or cast and request changes and then a whole scene can be cut. David Fincher is very particular about everything so the designer had all sets covered from an art direction, graphics and prop side. Better safe than sorry.

Matthew: Do you have a Production Designer or Graphic Designer mentor?

Tina: No – not really;

I spent 10 years in the real world of branding & advertising before moving into film. I loved Fabien Baron -you might guess from the fifty shades ;). So I didn’t really need mentoring when it came to graphics in the film industry with a designer so to speak, as I already had the skills. I have a couple designers I would work for regardless of pay or the job (let’s hope they don’t read this) they are David Wasco & Gary Freeman. Love the projects David chooses, they are often smaller and more interesting pieces. He is a designer that graphics are hugely important too. Gary uses me more as a Graphic illustrator on large scale pieces. Installations that normally are dreams briefs.

Matthew: What movie, besides the ones you’ve work on, have you seen the most in your life?

Tina: Another great question. There isn’t 1 but 3.
Gladiator – no explanation needed
Team America – I will never stop laughing or being furious I didn’t work on it
Love Actually – it’s on every Christmas

Matthew: You’ve worked as a Production Designer on more than a few short films. Is that a position that you aspire to hold in the Hollywood feature film world? Is there a place where we can watch your short films?

Tina: I have done that. I’ve also worked quite extensively as a stylist and assistant set decorator which is something I did pursue for a while I never wanted to design. All my design jobs have honestly been decorating jobs. Then I moved to the US and had to choose between 44 or 800 and I decided to focus only on graphics. I have no idea if you can watch these shorts. I’ll have to investigate…..

Matthew: What Production Designer and/or Director would you love to work with that you haven’t worked with yet?

Tina: That would be KK Barrett for Production Design and Tim Burton.

Matthew: You’re working on the new Bourne Identity sequel. Can you give us a sneak peek to what to expect?

Tina: No! Haha

For more information on Tina, please go to her website: http://www.tinacharad.com/
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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Art Director Jeremy Woolsey (Pitch Perfect, Million Dollar Arm, Dirty Grandpa)

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Art Director/Production Designer Jeremy Woolsey to chat about the world of film-making. Jeremy has worked in the Art Department on over 40 Hollywood productions including Vacation, Ouija, The Haunting in Connecticut 2, Pitch Perfect, Million Dollar Arm, Dirty Grandpa, and Bastard.

Matthew Toffolo: Film fans always get Production Design and Art Director mixed up, thinking they are the same position? Can you tell people what the difference is?

Jeremy Woolsey: The Production Designer is the head of the department and lays out the visual look of the film (along with the DP and Director). The Art Director runs the department and makes sure that vision is executed on time and on budget. Scheduling, budgeting and planning are all key components of the Art Director’s job.

Matthew: You’ve worked in the Art Department in over 40 productions in the last 10 years. Is there one or two films that you’re most proud of?

Jeremy: I am proud to be a part of the runaway hit “Pitch Perfect” .. That film has touched a great deal of people. And I think our work on “Million Dollar Arm” was rewarding.

Matthew: Who is your Art Director/Production Designer mentor?

Jeremy: Barry Robison …. I have worked with him seven times and he has helped me get to a different level of filmmaking.

Matthew: Is there is a Production Designer working today that you haven’t yet met that you’ve a big fan of?

Jeremy: Jack Fisk …. Legendary figure and craftsman. We have a really good mutual friend, so maybe one day.

Matthew: 5) As of this interview, the film “Dirty Grandpa” is premiering, a film you were the Art Director on. How was working on that production with the legendary Robert DeNiro?

Jeremy: I normally don’t get too excited about seeing an actor on set, but the first day he stepped on set it was pretty cool. Was in the presence of a living master even if the subject matter was a raunchy departure.

Matthew: How did you get started in the studio film Art Director world?

Jeremy: Was it something you always wanted to do, or did the job find you? I started in the music production business in the 90’s then transitioned into entertainment production in New York in the summer of 2001.

Matthew: If there is a case of getting type-Art Direction casted!, you might be with the comedy/road trip movie. Bastards. Dirty Grandpa. Vacation. Is there is distinct different when working on these films in comparison to a non-road trip movie?

Jeremy: Not really … maybe more exteriors. And larger signage.

Matthew: How about working on a film like “Million Dollar Arm”, where the majority of the film was set in India. Does an art director move with the main crew when there is a major location change?

Jeremy: In that case, I was handling the Atlanta portion and Mark Robins out of New Zealand handled India.

Matthew: What type of film would you LOVE to work on that you haven’t worked on yet?

Jeremy: I just started a period show set in the 60’s. Great story and great group of people, so it is a welcome departure.

Matthew: What film, besides ones that you have worked on, have you seen the most in your life?

Jeremy: Goodfellas

Matthew: How often to you re-watch the past films you’ve worked on? If you’re flipping through the channels late one night on a random Tuesday for example, and “Pitch Perfect” is on, do you watch?

Jeremy: Most of them aren’t the kind you would watch more than once, but if Pitch Perfect is on the screen I will give it a watch.

Matthew: In a typical studio film, how many crew members are on the Production Design team?

On the budget sizes I work on (20m to 45M) … We will generally have 10-12 in the office.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Upcoming Short Film “Artemis & the Astronaut”

Director A. Lauren Lee is back directing the short film ARTEMIS & THE ASTRONAUT. Her film “the good boy” played at the FEEDBACK Film Festival this summer to rave reviews. It looks like this film has the potential to be even better.

Go to the film’s website for more information and how you can be involved:

http://www.artemisthefilm.com

The film stars Lynn Cohen. Most people would remember her from her recurring character in “Sex in the City”.

The Cinematography on board, Diego Jiménez, is a true talent. All you need to see is “the good boy” and the feature film “Magallanes” to understand why everyone wants to work with him.

I asked A. Lauren Lee what motivated her to make this film. Her response:

My friend John was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He’d lived in our building for about 40 years. He knew everyone and knew all the best gossip about them. In the last few weeks of his life, he became this scared, confused, little boy crying in his bed all the time. I kept wishing I could have the old John back. I think I wrote Artemis & the Astronaut just so I could give Artemis back her Henri.

Make sure to check out the website: http://www.artemisthefilm.com

Tips to hiring the best crew members for your film

HIRING A CREW
FILMMAKING NOTES

Job Hiring Your Production Crew – When hiring your CREW, first and foremost what you’re looking for is other leaders. People who will take their position and own it – make themselves the LEADER of that job. This is a collaborative medium. Everyone can pour themselves into the film, no matter which position they have, and just plain make the film better.

If everyone on your set works that much harder, and believes in the project with their inner soul, then you have the makings of a great film. In previous films I’ve learned what not when hiring a crew.

As the Producer and/or Director, you are the LEADER of the film. You have to make tough decisions. Hiring Your Crew is the first, and sometimes the toughest, decision you have to make.

I’ve learned two major hiring mistakes in the past:

1) DO NOT hire someone who thinks they are doing you a favor.

If you’re a first-time filmmaker or you are just beginning, you may tend to want to hire a DP, for example, with loads of experience. That is a smart decision, no question, but the danger is that they might think they are just helping you out by coming on board. What happens when they are not emotionally linked to the project? They are there to help out, not to become a part of the overall team.

If you hire someone with a great resume of prior experience, no matter if they are an actor, editor, sound designer, etc., make sure there is an equal partnership in your relationship, and that you are both working with each other because of this great project you have, and for no other reason.

Hiring someone who’s doing you a favor WILL ALWAYS end badly. Every relationship you start has to begin on equal footing.

Same goes for the other way around. DO NOT hire someone that YOU want to do a favor for. It sounds like a nice thing to do, hiring a family member, friend of the girlfriend, etc…BUT nine times out of
10 it never ends well. And these are the people you have a hard time firing, too.

2) DO NOT hire your friend because they are your friend

The film is the ego of the project. Everything must be done for the sake of making the best film possible. And that includes hire the best person for each job.

We all tend to want to hire people that make us the most comfortable, right away. The people we already know, and don’t have to go through the “getting to know you” stage of the relationship. But are they the best person for the job? Is there someone better you can find with the means you have?

This is your film. Your mission is to make the best film, and sometimes making the hard decisions about whom you bring on will give you the best film.

When HIRING YOUR CREW, they have to pass the TEST. A good measure is if they can answer these THREE QUESTIONS with a PERFECT SCORE:

1) Do they have INTEGRITY?

-Do they tell the truth, keep their word, take responsibility for past actions, admit mistakes, and fix them?
-You can rely on their reputation in the field and their reference checks (always ask for references, even for freebie films). Reference checks of course aren’t infallible. So ask yourself what YOUR INNER GUT says. When you’re shooting a film, you’re going to have to rely on your instincts a lot, so when hiring your crew you’ll get some good practice.
-Even if their resumes, reputation and reference checks are great, if your instinct feels something is off, then trust your instinct.

2) Do they have INTELLIGENCE FOR THEIR CRAFT?

-They understand the practical means of their position, while also being creatively unique. And they understand how to be a leader, too, and bring other smart people to the project for you.

-Take a look at their reels and see if there’s something there that will make you KNOW that they can do your project.
-They understand that intelligence for their craft also means showing up on time, showing up prepared and ready for a long-but-insightful-and-meaningful day. And they treat everyone else on the crew with respect for their jobs, and offer kindness and support.

3) Are they MATURE?

-You can be mature or immature at any age.
-You can see that a person has grown up when they can withstand the heat, handle stress and setbacks, and enjoy success with humility. Bottom line: They respect the emotions of others.

WHEN HIRING YOUR CREW, THEY MUST SCORE PERFECT ON THESE QUESTIONS

Overall, to build an effective team, as a leader you know that, in order to meet and exceed your goals, you need help from the best. What I try to do is always hire people that are smarter than me.

And this is never about MONEY. Sometimes you have no money, sometimes you have some, sometimes you have a lot. Of course you can’t hire Tom Cruise to act in your film if you don’t have any money, but there is always someone out there, no matter what your budget is, who can do a great job.

The less money you have, the more you have to search, but there is always a great hire out there. NEVER SETTLE!!

Now that you’ve hired the best crew, it’s your job to lead them to victory.

* * * * *

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines TODAY to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Tips on Negotiating when setting up a project

NEGOTIATING
FILMMAKING NOTES

How to Negotiate – Every aspect of producing involves negotiating, in one form or another. You always need to go in with the attitude that people already want to work with you.

12 MAJOR POINTS TO REMEMBER IN NEGOTIATIONS

1. PLAN WITH YOUR LIMITATIONS IN MIND

Know you limitations. In poker they call it knowing your hand and understanding what you really have. Be ready to respond to the unexpected reaction.

2. ESTABLISH RAPPORT

Have a relationship with the person you’re negotiating with. Know what they like and dislike. Find that common bond. There’s always one. Relationships are established by conversations and talking about things outside the project.

3. PITCH THE ELEMENTS

Paint a visual picture – describe the elements.Who is directing? Who wrote the screenplay? What’s the story? What’s the story behind the story? Why is the film getting made? Where will it be shot? What will the project do for the person you are negotiating with? How can you help them out?

4. BE HONEST

You must maintain integrity. Select your words carefully. If you tell a lie, it will come back and haunt you. It always happens.

5. APPROVAL

Make sure the person you’re talking to understands their importance to the project. Appeal to their ego.

6. OBSERVE YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Body language tells so much. Take a look where you are, and if the person is really listening to you.

7. HUMILITY

If done well, it works miracles. If not done well, it can ruin the negotiation. Pick your spots and trust that it will work.

8. PROACTIVE

Be up-front and take the initiative when negotiating.

9. EXPOSE YOUR WEAK POINTS
It can only make you stronger, and it gives you credibility.

10. AVOID BEING A JERK

Smugness and conceit are to be AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS. Use words such as WE and US, and avoid using I and ME. People want to work with and help out people they respect.

11. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

Your instincts are never wrong.

12. HAVE A GAME PLAN

Know what you want to achieve. If it’s not what you want, walk away.

    * * * *

Writer Matthew Toffolo is currently the festival director for the WILDsound Film & Writing Festival.

Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Submit your Film, Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem anytime to the festival today: http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

What is a Production Manager?

PRODUCTION MANAGER
FILMMAKING NOTES

The Job of Production Management is the job of organization, budgeting, scheduling and preparing for everything.

POINTS OF A PRODUCTION MANAGER

1. Prepare breakdown and preliminary shooting schedule
2. Prepare and coordinate the budget
3. Oversee preliminary search and survey of all locations and the completion of business arrangements
4. Assist in the preparation of the production to insure continuing efficiency
5. Supervise completion of the Production Report for each days work, showing work covered and the status of the production, and arrange for the distribution of that report in line with the company’s requirements
6. Coordinate arrangements for the transportation and housing of cast, crew and staff
7. Oversee the securing of releases and negotiate for locations and personnel
8. Maintain a liaison with local authorities regarding locations and the operation of the company

THE PRODUCTION MANAGER’S RESPONSIBILITY IS TO FACILITATE THE WORK OF THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR AND TO PROVIDE THEM WITH THE BEST POSSIBLE WORKING CONDITIONS

The Production Manager MUST protect the film and the interest of the company they are working for

They are in charge with the control of all organizational, managerial, financial and logistical aspects of the production

Production Managers will have a lot of MEETINGS, make sure you know how to run one.JOB IS TO FINISH THE PRODUCTION ‘ON TIME, ON BUDGET’

As a Production Manager you will be expected to know every detail about every unit during all phases of production
-Keep logs that contain notes on your conversations
-Keeps a paper trail of memoranda that details recommendations, suggestions, directives and opinions expressed by and to anyone involved in the production

PRODUCTION MANAGER STAGES OF PRODUCTION
PRE-PRODUCTION
-screenplay breakdown
-shooting schedule
-location scouting
-budget
-casting and unions
-permits
-hiring staff and crew
-unit supervision
-permit clearance
-equipment rental and stock
-lab supervision
-payroll service
-insurance
-post-production preparation

PRODUCTION

-Responsible for a glitch-free shoot and must handle both logistics and overall organization
-Budget must be monitored according to the cash-flow chart

-Public relations must be started
-Together the Production Manager and the Assistant director on the set are responsible for the flow of information. They must ensure that everyone involved with the production – staff, crew and cast – knows what is going on, when and where

POST-PRODUCTION

-Generally the Production Manager organizes the editing phase in advance, including sound effects, music production, opticals and mixing

PREPARING FOR THE PRODUCTION

SCRIPT BREAKDOWN

With an initial first glance reading of a screenplay, an experienced producer or Production Manager can get a good estimate of the size of the production

Considerations come into play when designing the shooting schedule

1. Availability of the actors
2. Availability of the locations
3. Putting day player actors into shooting all their scenes in one day to cut costs
4. Desirable to schedule less complicated scenes during the first few shooting days in order for the crew to find its specific rhythm and chemistry
5. Exterior scenes should be scheduled before interior ones, which are independent of whether conditions and if they can be shot safely towards the end of the shooting period
6. Trying to shoot in script order as much as possible

    * * * * *

    Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to http://www.wildsound.ca for more information.

    Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
    Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

    Submit your Film, Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem anytime to the festival today: http://www.wildsound.ca

    Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

    Deadline for Writing Festival – Books, Poems, Scripts – http://www.wildsound.ca

Tips to Produce a Movie

HOW TO PRODUCE A FILM
FILMMAKING NOTES

FILM PRODUCTION
– How to make a movie!
– How to PRODUCE a film!
– How to be the best Movie Producer

A movie producer has the most important position in film production. Why? Because they start from the top, and are in charge in the entire production. They play many different roles: the mother, the father, the lover, the romancer, the persuader, the psychologist, the soothsayer, the comic, the best friend, the teacher, the warrior, the negotiator, the arbitrator, the dreamer, etc…

The best thing to do when making a film is hire or get people who know what they are doing technically, and with whom you can be in sync, artistically.

Before anything else, the producer must know the end result of the project, and know which path the project will take after it is completed.

THE PICTURE HAS TO BE MADE – You have to do whatever it takes.

The key to being a great producer is TIME MANAGEMENT.

SIX STAGES OF FILM PRODUCTION
DEVELOPMENT
PRE-PRODUCTION
PRODUCTION
POST-PRODUCTION
DISTRIBUTION
EXHIBITION

DEVELOPMENT
-Developing the major elements of the project
-Totally at the expense of the producer
-Selling, money, doing work, showing what you have on the table

PRE-PRODUCTION
-The period that commences as soon as the financing (grants or other funding) has been secured
-Make sure you have all of your Film Agreements in place
-AND make sure you know how to run a proper MEETING
-Immediately follows the development, securing and organizing of personnel and equipment needed for production
-Pre-production SAVES you a bundle in the future IF you’re properly organized

-It’s all about GOOD, CHEAP and FAST
-Know the Rules of Film Budgeting
-Orchestrate all the players, location, equipment, cast, crew and props to prepare for any complications that might occur once the film is rolling
It’s important to think about CONTINGENCIES during this phase.
What if the weather turns bad?
Do we have an alternate location ready to go?
Is there something else we don’t have?
Where are the nearest hardware stores, gas stations, restaurants, groceries, rental cars, etc.?
Back-up CREW MEMBERS.

Make sure before getting to Film Production that:
-Legal problems and FEES are all completed
-Rights acquisitions for songs etc. are taken care of
-STAFF CONTRACTS are drawn and signed

PRODUCTION
-It is the phase in which most problems can occur
-There are no substitutions for solid groundwork in pre-production
-This is the stage of the manufacture of the RAW PRODUCT

WHAT THE PROJECT FAILS TO DO IN PRE-PRODUCTION AFFECTS THE FILM PRODUCTION, AND WHAT THE PROJECT FAILS TO DO IN PRODUCTION AFFECTS POST-PRODUCTION – ALL OF WHICH WILL AFFECT THE END RESULT

POST-PRODUCTION
-More than 80% of what happens in post- can be fiscally determined in pre-production
-In order to do so the producer must have a clear understanding of the entire process
-THEY HAVE TO KNOW WHAT EVERY JOB DOES AND HOW TO GET THE JOB DONE – THAT IS A GREAT FILM PRODUCTION

LOOK BACKWARDS
Think of the project from Z to A

DISTRIBUTION
-Delivery of the product by those who licensed, and control availability to consumers
-DON’T JUMP INTO FILM PRODUCTION WITH LITTLE CONCERN ABOUT THE WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE FILM
-Know where you are going and why the film is being made
-The key to a successful filmmaking career is distribution – without it, no one will ever see your FILM
-In producing, your job is to create a marketable product

EXHIBITION
-Cosumption of the product by the audience

BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WHOLE PROCESS

Film is one of the three universal languages, the other two: mathematics and music
-FRANK CAPRA, Director (It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)

MONEY-SAVING TIPS FOR FILM PRODUCTION
1. PREPARE A DETAILED BUDGET
Shot list every nuance in advance. See how the story is going to flow visually – then you can change it. Go over the action, dialogue, technical requirements, camera angles, color schemes, costuming, blocking, lighting sound etc…

2. REHEARSE YOUR ACTORS
Build trust with your actors. When it’s time to get to the set, it may take only a word or two from the director to get the actors ready for the camera.

3. COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR DEPARTMENT HEADS
There should be many production meetings, where every script detail is discussed. The department heads can take notes, do their own research, and come up with questions for future meetings. Once you are in FILM PRODUCTION there should be a meeting at the top of the day to go over what you expect to cover, and a short ten-minute meeting at the end of the day to go over what’s coming up. Then the crew can sleep on what’s going on. If any one of the crew senses that the director doesn’t know what he or she is doing, then all respect and enthusiasm for the project is gone. Everyone wants to work on a first-class film.

4. DON’T SPEND MONEY ON UNNECESSARY THINGS

5. USE ‘BUYOUT’ WHEN WORKING ON LOW-BUDGET FILM PRODUCTION PROJECTS
You pay a flat daily rate regardless of how many hours are worked. Then you know how much the cast and crew will cost at the project’s outset and you will avoid overtime charges which can quickly send you over budget.

Give crew a cut after distribution so they can take a daily cut of their on-set fees.

HIRING YOUR FILM CREW FOR YOUR FILM PRODUCTION
CLICK HERE for rules of the trade in hiring the best crew.

7.CONSULTANTS
They can save you a tremendous amount of money. An assistant director can break down your script. A production manager can prepare a budget. A script consultant can review your script for structural or pacing problems. THEIR IDEAS ALONE CAN SAVE YOU THOUSANDS.

THE GREATEST WEAKNESS OF YOUNG FILMMAKERS IS THAT THEY ARE UNWILLING TO ADMIT THEY DON’T KNOW SOMETHING. ALWAYS SEEK MENTORS.

THE RELATIONSHIPS YOU BUILD ALONG THE PATH OF THE PROFESSION ARE THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT WILL STAY YOU FOR YOUR ENTIRE CAREER

ALL RELATIONSHIPS ARE EQUALLY IMPORTANT

NEVER BURN A BRIDGE – JUST RECONSTRUCT THEM

An independent producer’s responsibility is to know the budget backwards and forwards, inside and out, and creatively finesse the resources so that every cent will be seen on the screen.

LISTEN TO AND CONSIDER PEOPLE’S IDEAS CAREFULLY

People skills are the number one advantage of any kind of filmmaking. Having good people skills, evoking a good performance out of the cast, crew, PAs, studio people and investors, and being able to have people share and believe in your visions and stories are absolutely paramount to the success of any director.

YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO PEOPLE YOU DISAGREE WITH – TAKE THOSE CRITICISMS FOR WHAT THEY ARE AND LEARN FROM THEM

Your weaknesses can be covered by clever hires.

REMEMBER
1) this is an adventure
2) it is a test of everything that you are
3) it’s only a movie
4) keep a sense of humor, and you’ll be just fine

 

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.