Beneath The Leaf is a short film we entered into two short film competitions this month. The amazing thing about this project is that we finished it within 13 weeks of reading the short story. From reading the prose, to rewriting the script, pulling together cast and crew to shoot over a weekend, we finished it within a brilliant time frame.
But the truth is, my dear friends, I was a complete and utter NOOB when it came to being aproducer. I didn’t realise what I was getting myself into. It was Friday, the night before shoot day, and there were emails to send, props to pick up, notes to write, shot lists to print and food to cook! The list seemed endless. Ahead of me was a late night, lots of coffee, square eyes and a 5:00 AM start to look forward to.
I took in an overload of information pre/during/post this experience, but for the sake of keeping this short and sweet, I’ll only share three pearls of wisdom…
It may sound cocky, but producers wear many hats - all at the same time. To define a producer is difficult but in the dictionary they use words such as, manager, impresario, administrator, promoter, etc… which brought me to the realisation that producers need to know about everything. Not in the capacity that they’re an expert at it all but knowledgable enough to understand other crew members work loads and knowing when to lend a hand.
I also came to grasp the importance of communication with call sheets, shot lists, wardrobe checks, art direction, locations, etc… it always pays to double check information - even triple check so that everyone is on the same page.
Working on personal creative projects can be hard. Usually it involves little to no budgets, small crews, lack of sleep and lots of caffeine (which ain’t all bad). With these kind of environments I learnt it is key to keep a positive approach, have fun and EMPOWER your team. It's so easy to let emotions get the better of you but it's important to remember that your crew are in the same boat, working long hours and giving their best.
So when it came to me producing I tried my best to keep a cool head, take a breather,have a laugh and told my crew they were doing a good job. I think that's one of the reasons why Beneath The Leaf had a relaxing feel on set. We were all feeding off of each other's positivity which resulted in a enjoyable, stress-free environment.
KNOW YOUR TEAM
You're probably thinking this sounds simple but from my recent experience it is vital. Everyone plays an important role on set to bring all the elements together. So when it came to finding a crew of 16 people for a no budget, breakfast, lunch and dinner provided, film, it was essential for me that I had a personal connection with them.
I needed to know pretty quickly from each crew member whether they were committed or not to the job ahead, could put in the hours necessary to make it happen and add to the collective of creatives already onboard. And you know what, most, if not all put their hands up. When you're doing what you love, lack of sleep and tight work environments don't faze you.
I'm not saying that you should have all your friends jump on the bandwagon so you can have your whole cliqué along for the ride. But take the time to call crew, see how they're doing and ask how their week has been.
In parting, I'm far from perfecting my production workflow. I could not have done any of this without the immense amount of support I received from the Director and other crew. It was challenging, exhausting and eye opening. I never knew how much went into making film until my experience with BTL. Along with these challenges there were so many positives. I gained a wealth of knowledge through the people I worked alongside, new experiences, good memories and a quality short film to show ya'll - but not just yet ;)