Archive for April, 2009

Wow. It was hard to come up with a short list. Here are 5 of my “favourite” expensive expenses for starters…

1. Period script: Sure you know the costumes and hair are going to cost you, but as soon as you go outside, what about those cars or horses, and set dressing a time period that doesn’t exist anymore? And what about dressing all those background performers too?

2. Animals & Children – OK, I’m cheating a bit here lumping kids together with animals, but they both tire quickly and decisively. They are also similar in that when it comes right down to it, neither of them really cares about your capturing the shot (over and over again). Your takes, coverage and shooting hours will be limited. True animals don’t need tutors, but at least you can speak with children.

3. Night Shoots – The obvious cost is the extra lighting equipment, generator and operator. Not so obvious is that depending on the number of night shoots, you may not be able to hire the crew and cast you want.

4. Distant Shoots – If the distant location is a creative choice, get ready for the cost of travelling the crew, housing them, and paying them per diems… and the time lost for all that travel. If it’s an economic choice (you think it’s cheaper “out of the zone”), it’s rarely true.

5. Anything CG – Computer Graphics Imagery (CGI) is absolutely fabulous, but when the set crew knows there is a CGI team on board beware of the “oh, they can fix that in post” attitude. When CGI is digitally removing tethers and boom shadows, they are still doing effects shots… just more effects shots that the original list of flashy effects shots you thought they were going to do.

Happy budgeting!



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The things you wait for in this hurry-up-n-wait industry…

Now it may seem “normal” on set to wait for planes to fly overhead when you’re shooting under a flight path (not really sure why you’d shoot there, but there you go)… or perhaps wait for clouds to arrive or pass, depending on the look of the sky you want to achieve. Sure write it all down on the production report as set delays. The funniest one I remember is… waiting for a beard to grow.

We were shooting IMAX 3D and you REALLY can’t fake much in the scale of IMAX, so we had to delay our shooting start date until the Performer grew his beard back for the pick up shots. We’d never be able to match his beard from the previous footage otherwise. Alas. An industry where even the delays are creative!

Cheers & smiles,

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MWP Productions (my publisher) has somewhat recently revamped the MWP website. It looks great! There are articles, musings, and other good stuff worth perusing – even a Virtual Film School. I recommend you sign up for Michael’s newsletter – good info, and no flood of email. The new catalogue is up and posted too, so you can be tempted by even more excellent books.

Of course, the new website also means the link to the downloadable forms for Surviving Production and Film Production Management 101 has changed. You could surf around and find it yourself, but let me gift you some time, here it is: http://shop.mwp.com/pages/film-making-resources


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You’ll collect budgets you’ve written over time to use as a starting point for writing new budgets – but what happens when you’re starting out and don’t have a drawer full of old budgets? Spend the time and slog it through, or grab someone else’s template? The answer is not clearly black and white. I wrote an article for the MWP Virtual Film School looking at the factors to help you make the decision that’s right for you. Surf by and look it over:


Not to push you one way or the other, but to keep you informed… on the MWP resource page, Deke Simon provides you with some great sample budgets:



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Hello and welcome!

I’ve just celebrated my 12-year anniversary in print with my book Film Production Management 101. Wow! Having worked on Maniac Mansion which started with Episode #1 “10th Anniversary Special” – the cast reminiscing their 10 (fictitious) years on the air – I figure starting a blog on my 12th anniversary pretty much fits in somehow.

I plan to chat here about production-related issues for the international film and TV industry… gosh, that sounds soooo serious! I DO plan to include a healthy does of smiles too. Ya gotta keep the balance in life!

So… cheers & enjoy,

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