Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Film Directing Notes 07

FILM CREW: … (“Crew, Who to Hire…?)

FILM CREW: … (“Crew, Who to Hire…Get Real”)
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Hiring Crew (DP, 1st AC, CO, PM, PD, etc.), for your first feature film is easy (I repeat easy), if you do it my way NOT one of those ridiculous theory laden 4-year film school (UCLA, USC, NYU, etc.) ways where they teach how to make a movie when everything in the world is available to you whenever you want it. Duh!

A long long time ago in a far-off galaxy (oops). Anyway a long time ago, when I first came to Hollywood (early 80s) and starting getting jobs on crews (PA, PM, 2ndAD, AD, then LP) I became a seasoned Production Manager in the low-budget world of Roger Cormans & Charlie Bands & Sam Arkoffs & Lloyd Kaufmans who specialized in making Million Dollar Feature but for only $150K-$180K, which were always 18-Day, 35mm shoots, with SAG with no second takes.

And these are the shoots that launched the careers of Coppola, Scorsese, Howard, Sayles… And if they were good for them…they will be good for you.

Now, let’s chat Crew. You’re crew for your first feature film. First thing to do is stop looking at the REAR TITLE CRAWL Credits and counting the 100-120 names that spiral by. When you do this you only serve to overwhelm yourself and accomplish nothing. In tomorrow’s Hot Tip (January 4) I will show you how to only hire 4-5 people, your “Key People”, and they, in turn will hire everyone else.

But for right now let’s focus on the basic Crew that Coppola, Howard, Scorsese and Sayles used on their first 3-week shoots for the Roger Corman-ish distributors…

THE CREW (Prep & Shoot):

PRODUCER (probably you)
PRODUCTION CO-ORDINATOR (“PC”, your secretary, be sure he/she is anal)

DIRECTOR (hopefully you, if you’re gonna make someone famous…Duh!)
SCRIPT SUPERVISOR (“SS”, make it a woman, crew are mostly men…get it…)

PRODUCTION MANAGER (“PM”, 30-35, can work 18-hour days and be happy)
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (“AD”, not hired by Director, hired by PM, thinks next shot)
2nd ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (“2AD”, a former PA & $200K Film School grad)

DIRECTOR PHOTOGRAPHY (“DP”, 32-35, has been on 60 shoots over 6 years)
CAMERA OPERATOR (“CO”, Keeps composition & handles 2nd camera)
1st ASSISTANT CAMERAMAN (“1AC”, pulls-focus, shots are sharp & clear)
2nd ASSIANT CAMERAMAN (2AC”, no more magazines thinks Hard Drive & Glich)

GAFFER (Lighting Director, thinks electricity & visual)
GAFFER’S BEST BOY (Gaffers assistant, Gofer-this Gofer-that)

KEY GRIP (The carpenter/plumber on the set, rigs what holds the lights)
DOLLY GRIP (Gets the tracks, shleps the Dolly and pushes slowly)
GRIP #3 (a very very big PA, when you say “Jump”, he says “How High”)

MAKEUP-HAIR DRESSER (“HD”, make it also a woman)
ASSISTANT MAKE-UP (someone who just got out of make-up school, a cool girl)

RECAP: A crew for a Million Dollar Feature, but you only have $150K-$180K to make it, which includes Post-Production (Hot Tip, January 4) is about 30 people. Now, let me, with tomorrow’s Hot Tip (January 2) show you how (aka: my way, based on street experience not NYU film school theory) to find and hire these 30 people.

Your Film Crew, for your first feature film, will be found not by gathering 100s upon 100s of resumes and viewing movies, staring at the Rear Title Crawl Credits and taking notes on all those names thinking you’re gonna remember one and use him/her… for you will be overwhelmed and keep thinking that you need to hire 100-120 people to make a movie.

Again… Stop It! Stop it! Stop it!

When thinking crew (hiring crew) “stop looking at other medium-budget or high-budget Hollywood features’ credits”. First, you get overwhelmed by the number of people you need and second those people “ain’t working with you on your likely “No-Budget”, “Micro-Budget”, “Guerilla” or “Digital” feature film (you pick what you want to call it) when you have very little money to pay them.

Now, let’s get real…For you, a first-timer, with little-to-no money and a desire, with a work ethic, to make a Feature Film only need to hire 4-5 “Key People” (important word is “Key”) and your crew will magically just appear. Yes, that’s correct; to hire a crew you, the Producer, or you the Producer-Director or you the Producer-Writer-Director, or you the Producer-Writer-Director-Actor only need 4-5 people to hire…and your entire crew magically appears…and within the budget (aka: salaries) that you can afford.

Here are the 4-5 KEY PEOPLE.

After you have hired these 4-5 Keys then you, the Producer who-got-the-money, allow (aka: tell) these 4-5 Keys to hire the remaining 25 (see yesterday’s, Hot Tip January 1, post) individuals who will make your nominal amount of money look like a “Million Dollar Feature Film”.

So that’s it. Hire a Director, probably yourself, then find a “DP, who knows a lot of “PM”s, who between them know a lot of “PD”s and, simultaneously find your “PC” and…tell them how much money you have budgeted for each of the other 25 people (Grip, Gaffer, Craftservice, Prop, etc.) in the crew and it is the job of the 4-5 Keys to hire everyone…that is after you’ve said “Here’s what I’m paying”….and…”It ain’t negotiable”.

Paying Crew. Okay. But how much? Answer is simple. Let’s look at your budget. The bottom-line here is “how much money do you have” not what you think it would be nice to pay people and I doubt that you will have $150K to make your first feature film on a 3-week shoot.

Now, let’s assume you have $150,000. Big assumption! And, remember that’s for (1) Prep, (2) Shoot & (3) Post. Thus, I believe you’ll have no more than $90K-$115K budgeted for the shoot and within that amount I don’t think you can allocate more than $55K-$65K for your entire crew….This ain’t film-school-theory this is film-shooting-reality!

Let’s go one-by-one over a 3-week shoot.

(1) PRODUCER: (it’s you, you’re likely not paying yourself anything)
(2) DIRECTOR: (should also be you, if not pay, $500/week for 4-week prep, and $1,500/week for shoot…$6,000)
(3) SCRIPT SUPERVISOR: (Prep $250, Shoot $500/week…$1,750)
(4) DP: (Pay $1,000 for 1-week Prep and $1,500-$2,000/week for shoot…approx. $5,000)
(5) CAMERA OPERATOR: ($850/week…$2,550)
(6) 1AC: ($650/week…$1,950)
(7) 2AC: ($550/week…$1,650)
(8) PM: (Prep $2,000, Shoot $1,500/week…$6,500)
(9) AD: (Prep $500, Shoot $1,250/week… $4,250)
(10) GAFFER: (has the Lighting/Grip Truck, $2,000/week…$6,000)
(11) GAFFER BEST BOY: (paid by Gaffer)
(12) KEY GRIP: (Prep $750, Shoot $1,000/week…$3,750)
(13) DOLLY GRIP: (Shoot $750/week…$2,250)
(14) HAIR-MAKEUP: (with kit, Prep $600, Shoot $800/week…$3,000)
(15) HAIR ASSISTANT: (Shoot $350/week…$1,050)
(16) PD: (Prep: 2-weeks @ $750/week, Shoot 3-weeks $850/week…$3,050)
(17) ART DIRECTOR: (Prep 1-week @ $400, Shoot @ $600/week…$2,200)
(18) WARDROBE/PROP: (Prep, 2-weeks @ $500/week & Shoot…$2,500)
(19) SOUND MAN (came with equipment rental…$0)
(20) BOOM/MIKE (came with equipment rental…$0)
(21) CRAFTSERVICE ($350/week…$1,050)
(22) PAs (2-4 @ $250/week…$2,000)

I believe that this is going to be a quite good crew, more than adequate, and with the guidelines of the $55K-$65K that you budgeted. Voilla!

Finally, everyone (that’s you) who reads this can nit-pick and give me some film school theory, some philosophical, emotional rhetoric, or actually have a couple of super cool cost-cutting ideas and I’M SURE YOU’RE RIGHT… Point is the above is a GUIDELINE for you to use. But remember this assumes you have $150,000 which 99.999% of you do not have. Thus, in a later Hot Tip (January 5, 2013) I will tell you how to hire a crew when you are truly a No-Budget, Digital Filmmaker who is doing Guerilla filmmaking tactics.

CREW: The question is “Are editors (sound, picture, music) and lab technicians and colorists and composers part of crew?” The answer is “I don’t know”. But bottom-line is whatever you call them (A) Crew, (B) Contractors, (C) Vendors or (D) Artists you have to pay them so lets talk through the steps of Post-Production from a “what ya-gotta-do and who ya-gotta-pay” point of view.

Whether you shoot using film (35mm, 16mm or 65mm or even Super8mm) or in an electronic format (digital, HD, 4K, 2K, 1080i, 720p, DSLR, HDSLR, etc.)… I DON’T CARE… the basic steps of Post-Production, each which costs some money, are still the same in order to finish your film with an output-format that can be (A) submitted to Film Festivals or (B) go directly to Theatrical Distribution or (C) VOD streaming and/or archiving.

Let’s talk the “Post” steps through one-at-a-time:

Now, after you have done your 1-month Pre-Production and your 1-2 week Production shoot, your 2.5-3.0 month Post-Production period is upon you and here are the logical steps…DO IT IN THIS ORDER.

A) PICTURE EDIT (cut 9-10 hours of footage to 90-minutes)
B) SOUND EDIT (enhance Dialogue Tracks)
C) ADR (“Automatic Dialogue Replacement”, lip sync, loop & walla)
D) FOLEY (Footsteps, Clothes Rustling, Paper noise, etc. sound effects)
E) MUSIC (Hire a composer, arranger, or out-of-work musician)
F) RE-RECORD (Mixing session, layer 40 tracks down to 3 (M/E/V))
G) M&E TRACK (Get a sound track with Music & Effects but no talkin’)
Think-it and Do-it in this order. Got it!

Now, let’s talk money. And remember, you DO NOT HAVE studio financing…you are a “LOW-BUDGET” or “NO-BUDGET” Filmmaker with an “ULTRA-LOW-BUDGET” budget.

(A) PICTURE EDIT (Budget 4-weeks, Editor @ $1,500-$2,000/week & Assistant Editor @ $350-$450/week)
(B) SOUND EDIT (Budget 2-weeks, Editor @ $1,200-$1,500/week)
(C) ADR (Budget for 2-3 days at $700-$1,000/day)
(D) FOLEY (Budget for 2-3 days at $700-$1,000/day)
(E) MUSIC (Flat Fee, all rights, $2,000-$4,000
(F) RE-RECORDING SESSION (Budget for 5-7 days @ $700-$1,000/day)
(G) M&E TRACK (Flat fee, $2,000 paid to owner of ADR/Foley facility)
(H) LAB WORK (Titles @ $1,000-$2,000, Color-Correcting, Dissolves & Fades, Flat Fee @ $5,000)

I’m sure that anyone who has gone through the Post-Production process “reading this” can nickel-dime and say “how about this”, “how about that”, “you forgot this”, “you forgot that”, etc. and you will be right… Now, all that I did was give you a roadmap, some guidance, and some ball park costs.

When you finish the above A-C & penciling-it-out it will take, time wise, approximately 10-12 weeks and cost wise, between $30K-$45K…if you intend on submitting it to A-List Festivals and/or going directly for Theatrical Release. If you are going directly to YouTube or FaceBook then this is overkill and knock out $29K-$42K.

Bottom-line. It will take 2.5 to 3.0 months and cost-budget between $30,000-$45,000.

CREW: The past 4 Hot Tips (January 1-4) were about how to crew-up (Prep, Shoot & Post) for a Million Feature, when you only have access to $150K-$200K and I detailed or outlined (A) Who to get, (B) How to get ‘em, (C) What to pay & (D) How about Post-Edit… Now, most of you are saying “But Filmbay I ain’t gonna make a million dollar feature, even if I can get it done for $150K-$200K, for my first movie, but I might be able to scam up $10K-$50K…so what do I do”?

First, I love it when I get people “real” and they stop talking like low-budget is $2-$3 Million and realize that they can’t even write a check and-cash-it-for-$2,000. For 99.999% of first-timers (aka: you) low-budget is $8,000, $12,000, $15,000, $20,000, $30,000…$50,000 is a lot of money.

Anyway, let’s talk hiring a crew for your first feature film when you only have access to $10,000-$50,000.

First, it is not going to be a 3-week shoot. Second, it is not going to be shot in the film format. “So what is it gonna” be you ask?

It’s a 1-week, non-guild, shoot in an electronic (Reds, DSLRs, BlackMagics or even 2 GoPros) camera format. So, let’s budget for a “No-Budget” feature Crew.


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