Going into my first feature film was scary. It was scary despite having several years of experience on sets and several short films under my belt. Just the fact of how many days it would take to film. 21. We had planned for about 19. So here are some tips I learned along the way.
1) Keep Healthy
Keep yourself, your crew, and your cast healthy. This might seem simple but it’s not. Keep everyone fed, hydrated, and well rested. Film sets are already full of conflicts and stress. The worst thing you can do is throw a group of tired hungry people into it. So keep a case of water in the car, break for lunch at decent times, and try to wrap on time.
2) Stay Flexible
I know you have your amazing directorial vision that will carry the ship but you need to let go of that sometimes. Sometimes a location will drop at the last minute or it’ll rain. And you need that same scene to be inside instead of outside. (or you’ll have to add a day) Somethings aren’t worth it or the time it burdens people with.
3) Ask for another take
There are shots I wish I had one more take of. Maybe the focus wasn’t right, maybe the acting wasn’t quite there. Maybe the actor flubbed their line. Part of me got so caught up in making sure we were on time that I forget to ask myself basic things like, “did he flub that line”, “was that out of focus”. It’s not just the actor and DP’s job to notice those things. The director’s the one that puts that final stamp of approval. The thing I realized was as I was watching the monitor, I was watching the movie one shot at a time. My job was to make this small portion of the movie as good as it can be.
4) Say “Great Job”
At the end of a take, everyone looks at you to see what you thought. They’re looking for your opinion. If you liked a take or even thought it was half way there, say “Great Job!” “Awesome!” “Looking good..” you have to say something that encourages everyone. You can still make adjustments, but don’t let the first thing after cut be things that people did wrong.