pre-pro Scheduling/Crew

BA1385

Member
Hi there,

I'm putting together the schedule for my first feature and am slightly confused about how to make optimal use of certain department heads and crew members.

From the books/articles I've read, and people I've contacted, almost everyone seems to have a daily/weekly rate, but I will only need certain crew members and department heads (e.g. Makeup Artist, Production Designer/Set Decorator, Steadicam Op), for as little as one setup on certain days, and often many days apart.

There's no way that I can budget for all production heads to be on a weekly rate for the entirety of production, as they often will not be required.

When trying to put together a schedule (I'm using Movie Magic Scheduling), I'm finding it very difficult to coordinate things so that I make the most of all crew members from a budgeting perspective (i.e. putting scenes next to each other to ensure that I can make the most of each working "day"). I have for instance, created a custom stripboard with additional visible Board IDs (e.g. "2nd Unit", "STEADI" etc.), though it would probably be impossible to cover the board with every variable I need to keep in mind! I am new to scheduling, but the DOOD reports don't seem to be of much help, as one "day" for a crew member could mean an hour of work, and it could be possible to make the most of that paid day by using them for another scene.

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
 
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IvonV

Member
A few comments:

Some of the most complex shows managing hundreds of actors, extras, vehicles, animals, etc. are scheduled using MMS (and before MMS, they were handwritten on cardboard strips), so I'm sure you can do it with that tool. It may be tedious and time consuming, but I can't imagine a better way of doing it. I have experience in project management in other industries and have used other scheduling tools, but none conforms to the needs of filmmaking as well as MMS.

One suggestion would be to print your strips out so you can arrange them on a large table. Screenplay Systems (now EP) used to sell peelable labels that you could put on cardboard strips to help arrange your board. I don't think they sell them anymore, but you might call them and see. My point is, to get a good view of all the variables you are dealing with it might help to get everything in a physical space rather than dealing with the limits of a monitor.

Scheduling is an art and it takes balancing a lot of variables. I'm not sure if you'll ever get to a perfect schedule, so keep that in mind. You will likely have to make compromises (scheduling actors with start, hold and work days so you can optimize locations).

Finally, I think it will be a stretch that you can schedule and pay crew on some type of hourly. You should be planning day rates. It's not impossible, as everything is a negotiation with crew, but to think someone is going to come work for you for 2 hours and be paid for that is unlikely. That crew member has certainly given up a day to come work for you (there is no one that is going to hire them for just the remaining 10 hours). Also, it's a fantasy to think a film schedule is something you can plan and hold to a precise hourly schedule. Especially as you say this is your first feature. The 1-hour shot turns into 4- and the half day you planned, can wind up taking 2 hours after all.
 
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jax_rox

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
You can certainly pay day rates for some crew that will only be needed on a day-rate type basis. To be completely honest, it's slightly concerning that you appear to be considering such integral roles as MUA and Production Design to be only needed for one setup.

I can certainly see how you might only need a Steadi-op for a couple of setups; I don't know of many who would charge half-day rates, but most I know do day rates. It does take longer than you might assume to get everything working together perfectly for Steadicam shots.

I don't know many crew who do half-day rates outside of prep days, but you can certainly negotiate day-rates for crew whom you won't need for more than one or two days at a time.

You are correct in your thinking of utilising paid days with as much as possible (i.e. try and group Steadicam shots together when possible in order to minimise total days needed on set).
 

IvonV

Member
You can certainly pay day rates for some crew that will only be needed on a day-rate type basis. To be completely honest, it's slightly concerning that you appear to be considering such integral roles as MUA and Production Design to be only needed for one setup.
Jax makes a good point... I'd like to hear your plan for the hourly players. Under what circumstances do you envision a MUA needed for only one set up in a day? Are there no actors in the rest of your shots that day?
 

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