Next Time

Morning. Happy Tuesday. Guess what- Kristen & I are 0-2 in our NFL fantasy league. We-hew. Eli Manning really screwed us this weekend. Anyway.

Next time (which is next week... and we are gonna be READY)

Forget about fantasy football.... for a few minutes....

I have a few closing thoughts on my recent string of industrial/educational video projects. It's been a busy few months as far as producing and directing goes and every time I finish a project, I look back and reflect on what went well and what didnt. More importantly on where I need to improve.

There are a few concepts that I feel were mis- or UNDER represented while putting these projects together, CLARITY and COMMUNICATION.

When I was working on "Lessons in Ethics" and the "Day in the Life" series, I was given all the materials in advance. The client sent me the entire series of scripts and I was able to start from scratch with every character and location laid out in front of me. I was able to cast every role in advance and map out almost every scene before I even THOUGHT about coordinating schedules of cast & crew. I was basically able to have a thorough pre-production phase. I spent a good amount of time with each and every actor, explaining the project, the requirments of the job, the expectations as far as performance and professionalism.

That wasn't really the case this time around.

These most recent projects, the Law Simulation project specifically, came to me by way of trickling increments of series and scenes. When I received the first batch of scripts, I assumed that was it and I began my process of casting, collaborating and coordinating. THEN, juts when I thought I had it all figured out and we were ready to go, NEW scripts would come in, I would make the necessary adjustments, get everyone up to speed, we would go out and shoot a series or two, and then MORE scripts would come through. NOT that I'm complaining at ALL about work coming in, but every time a few more unannounced episodes would come into my life, my job as a producer would get trickier and trickier, to where I was constantly on the hustle trying to mix & match actors. scenes and locations. Things got particularly tricky when I had already shot out a particular actor/character and then two days later I get 3 more scenes with that actor, who's schedule was a BIG pain in the butt to work around and was subsequently unavailable for a few weeks after the initial shoot. Get what I'm sayin?

Sometimes I would get 3 more scenes for a character that just finished shooting 3 scenes, and because the material was so dialogue heavy... with a lot of legalese and technical terminology, the actor would decline to accept the gig and I was left scrambling to either find someone similar or go back and rewrite those scenes, introducing a new character. Which worked out fine, but I hate having to tell the client that I have actors bailing on me. Doesnt really look good.

Now, if I had all scenes for that character in advance I simply could have planned better. I also could have locked in that actor for every scene and mapped out his shooting schedule so that he had time to prepare and wasnt expected to handle 30 pages of text heavy material all on one day.

To make a long story short, I had more than my fair share of complication with everything Ive been shooting over the past few months. I've had WAY too may actors show up on set and not be prepared as the should be. Ive had 3 or 4 actors actually CALL IN SICK less than 24 hours before a shoot. Not just ONE person did that.... FOUR people did that. Each one was totally unremorseful and made no effort to reschedule or make ANY sort of concession. Which leads me to believe that those actors waited til WAY too late in the game to start learning their lines and once they started, they realized how tricky the dialogue is... and how text heavy these scenes are and they decided that bailing out last minute was the only option. I got one actor with PINK EYE (who gets PINK EYE?), one actor with a concussion, because he FELL at work. Really? You FELL at work? One actor broke his ankle... amazing the odds of that happening 12 hours before we shoot.

Then there's the money... and the time it sometimes takes to get paid. When I auditioned and cast each actor in "Lessons in Ethics" I was very thorough and explained to everyone that they were expected to be off book on the day we shot and that it sometimes can take anywhere from 60-90 days from the shot date to get paid. I often dont submit an invoice for the client for a particular series until we've at least finished a round 2 rough cut. Which means that its been AT LEAST 30 days since we've shot before we've compressed and organized footage, edited a rough cut... sent that rough cut over to the client... and they've watched it and responded with notes. If I was a big corporation with money rolling in regularly and a fancy shmancy payroll department... I could pop out check left and right.... but thats not the case.

So previously, I had taken the time to explain all the intricate details of my process and how long it can take to get paid. THIS time, I wasn't able to convey that delicate dynamic to many of my hired hands, namely actors, and now Ive got actors calling and emailing me every day wanting to know where their money is.

I mean hey, I get it. Ive been there. When you are out there scrapping and saving and doing everything you can to work, pay bills, make it to auditions every day and somehow keep your sanity, it SUCKS when you have to wait two months to get paid. But thats just the way it is right now. In the past, when Ive carefully explained that AT THE AUDITION... I havent had any problems. I basically gave any actor the opportunity to decline the role if a 60-90 day turnaround was not sufficient. THIS time, I wasn't able to convey that message... and now it's coming back to haunt me.

So it's basically the principles of pre-production that didn't get properly applied for these past three productions. Nobody's fault but my own.

I realize that I have to be prepared for anything and everything. The only constant is change. The one major thing Ive learned here is that communication is key... however cliche that may sound. As a production coordinator (who is also the producder, director and Casting director), I got a little sloppy. I let things fall through the cracks.

Next time will be different.

Let's hope there's a next time.

God please let there be a next time.

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