directing How to keep Cast/Crew Engaged during Low Budget Shoot?

onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
So I have a filming strategy to go about completing my short film in three phases or chunks. Each phase is planned to be shot complete in 1 or 2 days. Spread out over the course of three months.

So far, phase 1 is looking good to go and everyone is prepping quickly.

My question is, other than providing a great first day... What are other ways I can keep my cast and crew interested in coming back each month for more?

Pay is deferred, so there is no promise of money. I'm launching a crowdfunding campaign next month that I hope my be good motivation if it does well. Outside of that, I've got no ideas.

Anyone care to help?
 
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You treat them like the professionals they aspire to be. You also lay out a great craft table and feed them really well. And, I know that it's no budget, but reimbursing for "disposables" - make-up, batteries, etc. - and some gas/travel money never hurts.
 

onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
You treat them like the professionals they aspire to be. You also lay out a great craft table and feed them really well. And, I know that it's no budget, but reimbursing for "disposables" - make-up, batteries, etc. - and some gas/travel money never hurts.
Makes sense. So far, I've been doing my best to pay for building supplies/water/some food. I think I am doing a good job in that department so far, but I still need to set up catering for s-day.
 
Shooting only once a month is very risky. Actors are constantly looking for other opportunities, and the first paying gig that conflicts with your three month schedule, they're gone. You can minimize this risk by making your shooting schedule as short as possible...like maybe shooting twice a month instead of only once, which would cut your schedule in half. I've done a few films where we shot every weekend for 5 weeks, and usually after the second week there is always at least one actor who requests a change in my schedule so that they can accept another gig. A couple of actors even quit altogether because the new gig paid them more than I could. Other than shortening your schedule, all that you can do is make your shoot days as fun and efficient as possible...short hours, keep them well fed, pay for their gas.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff member
Admin
Information is key.

If they know going in it is shooting 2 days a month over 3 months, then when they take the "job" this is what they expect.

If you string people along and they keep asking when the heck you are shooting again, then, you lose people.

Of course people could drop off anyway. ALWAYS have plans B and C. Figure them out now.
 
I might ad that all of my actors receive detailed "deal memos" with dates, times, and locations, but there is always someone who still wants to change our schedule to squeeze in another shoot. By the way, our "no budget" films have always paid actors $25-$100 a day, (usually $50), which does lower the drop-out rate somewhat. But there's always that ONE...
 
Can't speak specifically for the movie business, but I manage a team of volunteers at a festival and the most important thing they look for is "having a great time". Other than that, treat them with the respect a professional deserves, make sure they have food and drink (and time to consume it), and if there's any chance of making a small additional gesture of appreciation, do it. I usually try to talk our bands into giving me CDs which I then pass on to my crew.

I know you won't be working in shifts, but make sure that everyone has their own copy of the day's schedule, so they can see where they're supposed to be and when; and if things go off the rails, set aside ten minutes to revise the schedule together so that folks know what's happened, what needs to happen and what they can do to help.

Oh, and take time yourself during that first day to notice what each person is doing (right or wrong) and give them the freedom to do what they do well.
 

onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
Information is key.

If they know going in it is shooting 2 days a month over 3 months, then when they take the "job" this is what they expect.

If you string people along and they keep asking when the heck you are shooting again, then, you lose people.

Of course people could drop off anyway. ALWAYS have plans B and C. Figure them out now.
Done. I have a backup actress in case the other one has any scheduling conflicts or issues. But I don't foresee any issues with her in this regard. Either way, I am covered.
 

onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
I might ad that all of my actors receive detailed "deal memos" with dates, times, and locations, but there is always someone who still wants to change our schedule to squeeze in another shoot. By the way, our "no budget" films have always paid actors $25-$100 a day, (usually $50), which does lower the drop-out rate somewhat. But there's always that ONE...
Nice. That's about the price of the gas getting over here, so that works.
 

onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
Thank you all for the feedback. I've ordered a mac n cheese bar in addition to other food. That alone should keep em happy! Unless they hate mac n cheese, but who in the heck hates mac n cheese???
 
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jax_rox

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Wrap early! And if you can’t wrap early, wrap no later than on time. Keep your days to the industry standard where you are at the maximum. Lay out a good meal and crafty table.

Ultimately it all comes under the banner of ‘respect your crew’ but I find it’s often the case where the less money you’re getting paid, the less respect you get.
 

onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
Ultimately it all comes under the banner of ‘respect your crew’ but I find it’s often the case where the less money you’re getting paid, the less respect you get.
That's understandable. I'm finding it helps to continually share what my end game is with it.

I keep their minds on the ultimate prize, which is potential awards/nominations from festivals and crowdfunding success. The money spawns from how successful the campaign does. Hopefully this invests them in sharing it with their own friends/family/social circles and giving a little more effort on the film. This strategy doesn't work with everyone, because they also work real paying jobs, but I would think some feeling of pride comes from a successful crowdfunding campaign or seeing your film on the big screen.
 
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