The easiest way to anticipate problems is to know what’s happening on set. Are certain crew members always late? What’s the main reason the project keeps going over budget? How far behind schedule is this thing already? Maybe it feels like spying on the production, but a weekly production report is a good way to spot any trends that occur on a regular basis. Again, use good judgment: if a crew member gets into a car accident on the way to set, don’t hand out demerits for being late. Investors and financiers will also sleep a little easier at night if they understand the reasons why the production is costing so much more and taking so much longer. At the very least, they may have more respect for the difficulty of the producer’s job when they see all the problems they had never even imagined.
The Foreseen Possibilities in Production
Intelligence, experience and patience are all good traits in a producer. When it comes to planning for what can go wrong, the benefit of experience can’t be replaced. As many problems as there are that can’t be prevented, there are still a lot of common issues that productions face over and over again. Save the drama for the camera; your energy is better spent taking care of the necessaries.
While you’re looking into your crystal ball for the production, it’s not a terrible idea to look ahead to the other stages too. Maybe thinking about distribution seems like counting chickens in an Egg McMuffin, but consider what you might need if you end up self-distributing. Do you want a production chronicle, blooper reel or other behind-the-scenes footage? A good use of all that down time on set could be to record interviews with cast and crew members using any equipment that can be spared – even a camcorder or phone cam could work. And if you’re planning for distribution, you definitely should be marketing as you film. Is there enough footage to cut a teaser? That editor you hired hasn’t really been put to the test yet. Take still photos during scenes and post them to the project’s web page and social media accounts. Who cares if it’s only day one of shooting? You plan to finish this thing eventually, so you might as well get the world ready to appreciate your genius.
Creative Reality Check
Review the footage from your dailies to monitor the progress of the production. The results can tell you where you need to spend money and where you can possibly cut costs. If something really seems to work well on the set, but completely bombs on a screen, figure out why this might be happening. Again, seasoned producers might be better at this, but don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions. Maybe it’s as simple as the camera needing to be a little closer to capture the emotional complexity on an actor’s face. Or maybe the actor simply doesn’t have the face to convey that range of emotions. On the camera side, 4K technology has a wide range of options for inserts, which can add a lot of production value and correct some of these issues. Still, if you don’t have the resources available, just do the best you can and get as much footage as possible.