What is a Production Schedule?

Anyone who has ever been on a shoot knows that it won’t always go exactly as planned. Talent shows up late, we can’t get access to a certain room, there isn’t parking available, the point of contact gets stuck in a meeting..the list goes on. So what do we do to ensure that when these things happen we stay on schedule and don’t fall behind? If you guessed a production schedule from the title of this post, you are correct.

A production schedule is the key to keeping the shoot on time. It puts everyone on the same page and allows you to physically see what the day is supposed to look like. Things that often get over looked is the time it takes to setup, break down, move to a new location and most importantly, lunch. I can’t tell you how many times when working on the schedule, a client forgets to put aside time for lunch. Luckily for me I love food so I never forget to put that in the schedule. Clearly, the main purpose of a production schedule is the scheduling of the day and making sure that we are on time. However, a good production schedule does more than that.

Parking

If you have never shot in a city or don’t ever plan on it, you can skip this section. Parking, especially in the DC area, can be a pain to say the least. There are specific parking locations as well as special directions on how to get there. Those who constantly shoot in the city know how stressful and time consuming this can be. A proper location scout can help take care of this. For those that want more information on a location scout, please check out this post and video we did explaining a location scout.

What To Wear

There are some shoots that take place in one location throughout day. Then, there are the shoots where you have 8 interviews in 8 different locations.. while capturing supporting b-roll. So consider what you wear and dress appropriately. Seems like a minor thing, but clothing makes a big difference! Be comfortable yet professional. Share this with everyone on the shoot.

What to Bring

Gear is important. If you have 8 locations in one day, keep the production as light as possible. For lighting, LEDs are wonderful. Four battery powered LED panels have given us great results with our DSLRs. Their foldable stands keep the production moving. And consider how much you need to move between shots.

If there are only one or two setups, try using KinoFlo lights. They require C-Stands, sandbags, space and time. Their soft light, adjustable color temperature bulbs, and selectable bulbs make Kinos a little easier to deal with than a tungsten kit.

Basically, it comes down to selecting the right tools for the job.

Schedule Changes

When interviewing busy executives, schedules get a bit..tricky. Following a detailed production schedule helps you accommodate changes. Treat every interview as a time slot. If one person becomes unavailable for one slot, find out who else can slide into their slot, or who they might be able to switch with.

The production schedule gives everyone one document to work off of. Send the schedule to assistants or other schedulers so they know your locations and timetables.

Shooting Without A Production Schedule

There’s a host of things that posses the potential to go wrong when shooting without a production schedule:

  • Missed b-roll opportunities – certain aspects of a job are time sensitive. You need to be certain that the only person certified to operate a specific machine is going to be there when you get there.
  • Unmanageable Schedules – communication gets crossed if there isn’t one central place to keep track of moving time slots.
  • Run Late – you and your crew will spend too much time figuring out “what’s next” and not enough time getting from A to B.
  • Timing – if I told you to “meet me in the Atrium in the afternoon,” what time would you show up? Exactly.
  • The project suffers – without a production schedule, things feel rushed, a little hazy. You and your client are on separate pages. You might miss a shot, or a key interview. Your project suffers as a result.

On your next shoot, challenge yourself to use a production schedule. Put all relevant information in one place. Then send it out to EVERYONE who needs it. Clients; Talent; Crew, even your Uncle Larry if he’s interested in what you’re up to.

If there’s information that you don’t feel is appropriate to send out to everyone, reach out to those different entities individually. Bottom line is that you need to move as one complete team. It’s the only way to get through those hectic days.

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