I took a week off from my day job to get things going with the web series. The plan was to use most of the week for prep and then start shooting at the end of the week – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday would be our first three days. I thought that would be plenty of time, but it took every spare second to make sure we were ready by Friday morning.
The toughest decision we had with our limited budget was what crew we were going to have. Since my focus hadn’t been on production the last year or two, there weren’t many crew friends I had kept in touch with enough to ask for volunteer work. We also wanted to avoid too big a crew. We were working with clamp lights in one location with a handful of actors. We had a situation where we were fortunate to not need a lot of people to get by. So there had to be some cuts.
We would get to know this room well.
We had a sound guy , Victor David, who will also be creating our score, we had a friend, Andrew, who was on break between reality shows who would be our sole gaffer/grip, we had Violet, our makeup/hair/wardrobe/production design/production manager, Datta, who was a Producer, but also acting, Ritchie, who was our family PA, and I would was DP’ing as well as directing. From there, we made the decision to hire a Script Supervisor rather than a First AD. We could only afford one. Since there wasn’t much crew and I had already done the scheduling, we thought it made more sense to go with the Script Supervisor. I’m editing the thing too, and with everything else going on, we needed good continuity and good notes. We really needed that organization in the madness.
In hindsight, next time we will bite the bullet and hire a few more people. There were times we really missed having an AD. The first day (which I’ll cover in more detail next post), we simply did not have enough people. Datta had to hold a blanket up outside a window on a day he was filming. Producer or not, it’s never good to have to ask an actor to do that kind of work. For the next shooting days, we added a couple more people, but what really made a difference is that our little crew that could really got the hang of working together. By day 3 we were fast and efficient. But it took finding that right mix of talented people to pull that off.
Back to prep. Those days leading up to filming were filled with small errands that added up thanks to LA traffic. Driving out to meet up with potential crew, then driving to the read through, and then back ate up a ton of time. Having a checklist to get through all the tiny things was priceless. Without that list, so many things would have been overlooked. Next time, the one thing I will have for sure is a Production Manager and help for those prep days, so that I’m not making a shot list between runs to Home Depot and putting together the craft services table.
Next: Part V – Production Begins