Continued from Part 1 – The Basics and Early Morning

Days on a film set are busy and require Production staff to be flexible, taking on many different tasks throughout the day.  We’ll explore these duties and look, in chronological order as far as possible, a typical day’s format.

Morning

Later on the film set

As soon as the first shot has been filmed and is “in the can”, the set will call the Production Office so you can enter this onto the Daily Production Report.  Whilst filming is continuing, the nuts and bolts of the Production Office begin.

One of the first tasks is to review the previous day’s costs and inform Producers and Accounting as necessary.   Your office assistants will deal with reports for the petty cash, but the Production coordinator still needs to be well informed about this.

You will also need to check where the film shot on the previous day (called the dailies) is being viewed and inform anyone as necessary.  You’ll be hoping that the viewing did not turn up any major problems.  Re-shooting and all that involves is far from ideal, but if it’s necessary you’ll need to break the news to the relevant individuals nonetheless…

You will need to review all mail and e-mail that arrives relevant to the production.  In the case of physical mail, it needs to be marked with the date it’s received and the redistributed to the correct person or persons.  For e-mail, you will need to print out copies and send them on to the relevant people, or forward them by e-mail as necessary.

You will be fielding phone calls from set, so keep logging the details onto the Production Report.  Don’t forget to ask if anyone else in the office needs to talk to set before ending the phone call.

Both the Production Manager and Coordinator will need to discuss what is happening, paying particular attention to whether everything is progressing according to the schedule for the day.  Keep your knowledge of progress detailed and up-to-date so that when Head Office calls, and they usually do on a daily basis, you will be in a position to inform them well.  As well as the more serious phone calls, you are very likely to receive requests for strange, sudden and unexpected things, so you’ll need to be prepared for almost every eventuality.

As Production coordinator, another of your tasks is to set up events to promote and publicise the film.  This will undoubtedly include arranging visits to the set by the press.  Top of your priority list will be liaising with the Assistant Directors in order that  events are scheduled so that they do not adversely affect the progress schedule of the shoot.

The press will seek interviews with the cast members and behind the scenes mini-production teams will be ever-present so organising these without affecting the shooting schedule is a task that will fall to you.

Lunchtime

As discussed above, it’s imperative that the Production team is well informed of progress on set and the most effective way to accomplish this is to visit the set as frequently as possible.  When filming stops for lunch, you have an ideal time to catch up with particular crew members.  You can use this as an opportunity to discuss with the Director and firm up the plan for the afternoon.

Lunchtime is also important in determining how busy the Production Office’s afternoon will be.  The on set crew, especially the Assistant Directors, will be considering whether they are on target to successfully complete all scenes on the call sheet schedule.  Are there any plans to carry some scenes over to the following day’s filming?  Or is it a location shoot which means all shots must be obtained before wrap in which case there might be a sizeable overtime invoice heading in your direction?

Afternoon / Late Afternoon

film production end of the day

The afternoon on a film set and in the Production Office involves a combination of all the duties and tasks which take place in the morning session.

You will need to liaise with the Assistant Director in preparation for producing the call sheet for the following day.  This depends entirely upon the progress that day.

Following this discussion, and having decided whom each of you will inform, you and the Assistant Directors will be contacting people with prospective call times for the next day’s shoot but, in all likelihood, contacting them again to advise of a change.

Crew members will also be calling the Production Office to find out their own call time.  Be careful here and record all of these conversations; if tomorrow you are missing a key member of the crew and the shoot grinds to a halt as a result, you may not be in everyone’s good books.

The Assistant Directors should prepare the call sheet based on the day’s progress, but if they don’t, you need to use the advanced schedule and your latest records on the Daily Production Report.

Wrap

As the day’s shooting draws to a close, the Production Manager will probably find time to visit the set and make a final check on progress.  When filming has “wrapped”, they will discuss any matters arising with the Directors and Assistant Directors about the day as a whole, get a picture of progress compared to the schedule, and plan for the next day’s filming.  At this point, the Production Manager’s working day usually ends.

Not so for the Production Coordinator.  When, at last, the next day’s plan is in place, this will inevitably mean substantial changes to the call sheet and call times.  Redraft this as quickly as possible.  This redraft is referred to as a “pink revised” call sheet, the term deriving from the colour paper it was printed on.  However, simply marking final call sheets with the term “pink revised” means that no one will be in doubt as to which to use.

And the whole day begins again…

So that is a typical day and how it is structured and the pattern will begin the very next morning.  As filming continues and a more usual daily routine is established, the tasks themselves will become easier.  Because of the nature of the filmmaking process, however, the most sensible approach is never to get complacent.  The unexpected is always waiting just around the corner.