Taking on a production of any scale can be overwhelming, be it film or theatre, especially when you are at the beginning stages of development and fundraising. Things can feel even more daunting if you are also juggling other jobs, auditions, rehearsals, family and the demands of everyday life. I have learned a few skills to keep me from getting too anxious and help me stay focused.
1) Break the big picture down into much smaller pieces that are manageable by writing a list. When you look at the entire project sometimes it seems like there is so much work to do and so many things to remember, the mere thought of it can be paralyzing. List the tasks: creating a budget, fundraising, making a production schedule, hiring a team, insurance, legal documents (permits & contracts), marketing, publicity, graphic designs, website…Think of this first list as a table of contents for each chapter of your production bible. There will also be documents for each task listed and lists within your lists like your team for example – (director, producers, crew, wardrobe, scenic design, technical team, music department, casting etc.) Think of these more focused documents and lists as chapters in your bible. The lists will keep evolving throughout your productions so expect to revisit and revise them on a regular basis.
2) Breathe. You can only accomplish one thing at a time. Once you have the “big picture” broken down into manageable size pieces, now is the time to set production/shoot dates and for a film project a deadline for the final cut. It’s hard to hire people and move forward with anything when you don’t have solid dates set. Dates also light a fire under you to get a move on things. Dates turn an idea of making something into the reality of a production. As for post production for a film, set a solid deadline for festival submissions/public screenings and stick to it! Live performances are a different beast than film productions because the show must go on as they say; but film productions still require just as much energy and attention in post production as they do during shooting. In my experience many indie film productions don’t plan past the shoot and things get off track in post.
Early in my career I worked on countless productions (both on and off camera) that never set deadlines beyond the production and sadly many many of those projects were never completed. It’s astonishing to me how many film/video productions are abandoned in post 2/3rds of the way through because of poor planning, running out of steam, stamina and finances. Sadly indie film projects are abandoned more often than they are finished.
3) Map it out! Once you have a clear list of tasks, show dates/shoot dates and a final cut deadline, create a road map of what comes first and then next to get your project off the ground. Arrange a realistic timeline on a calendar marking specific dates of when certain things need to be addressed or completed by. Put everything on that calendar; that calendar (road map) along with your priority list(s) will become your production bible. I advise scheduling every meeting, phone call, rehearsal, e-blast, etc. on that calendar. When you look at what needs to be done in a step by step manner on a timeline it all becomes more manageable.
Make a map so you don’t get lost. Pace yourself so you don’t run out of steam.
Setting deadlines months in advance and communicating with your team on a regular basis will keep you on track the entire process. Of course there is room for adjustment, yes sometimes other projects (or life events) come up and take priority. The more prepared you are for a production, the more likely you are to make it to the finish line no matter how much life gets in the way.
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