Pre-Production: Film Scheduling

Scheduling is an important part of pre-production. Setting reasonable goals for the timing of your production will keep things running efficiently.

Step 1: Start Date

The first thing you need to schedule is the first day of shooting. Determine how much work you need to do before getting into production then figure out how long it will take. Usually this will be either weeks or months. Most of the things you will be organizing will depend on the start date, so knowing it as soon as possible will be essential.

Step 2: Length of Shoot

The length of your shoot will vary based on a tremendous amount of variables. The first is how long your script is. A feature length script can be shot from anywhere between 3 weeks and 3 months. The next factor that comes into play is how long you can afford to keep a production going. Each day of shooting is expensive. The shorter your shoot, the less costly it will be. The content of your script also has a lot to do with your schedule. If every scene is in a different location, then you will be spending a lot of time on location moves. So, you may not be able to shoot more than 2 scenes a day. However, if the entire movie is a few people in an apartment, you can get much more done in one day. The best way to measure a day is in page counts. A good solid day will shoot between 4 and 6 pages.

Step 3: Day by Day

The next step is to find the best order in which to shoot your movie. Directors and actors like to shoot in the order of the script, but this is a luxury that cannot always be afforded. More likely, you will need to group your days by more practical factors such as locations. The other thing to account for is night shoots. If you have a lot of days that will need to be spent shooting entirely at night, these days should be grouped together. Switching from day shoots to night shoots constantly will waste valuable turn around time and energy.

Step 4: Day of Shooting

A day of shooting will either be set at 12 hours or 10 hours. It is critical to stay within this time frame since you will have to pay time-and-a-half per hour afterwards. Remember that this time frame should include time for the crew to wrap. Once the last department is done wrapping, the production must set a call time for the next day no sooner than 10 hours later. After 6 hours of shooting, you will need to break the production for a half hour lunch. All these things will play a part in how you schedule your scenes throughout the day.

Scheduling can sometimes turn into a big juggling act. With enough planning, you will be able to keep your balance throughout production.

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