I just wrapped shooting my independent project called Awake. It’s a psychological thriller about a woman who is tormented by horrific dreams. We had lots of fun disfigured characters. The set was loose and shots were rolling. The biggest lesson from the shoot was time management.
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Most new directors have issues with time management. An inexperienced director will try to shoot everything he/she can think of and wind up getting nothing. Being able to successfully manage time is paramount to a successful shoot. It’s easier for some than others. I’m sure we all know those super organized people. You know the ones that are synched to their tablets, phones, google this, and chat that. (Star Trek reference ahead!) You’d think they are part of the Borg collective. It’s kind of intimidating at times. I’m on the other end of the spectrum. I like to think of myself as more of a chaotic creative genius. I mean if I don’t who will? But I still need to be organized. Keep heart my scatter brained friends. Project management is a learned skill.[flickr id=”14135601012″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”medium” group=”” align=”none”]
“Learned…what do you mean by that?” you might ask. The skill comes from experience and humility. The key, which is not a secret, is that you have to curb your ego and have attainable and realistic expectations. It’s so hard because as directors we like to think we can do everything. We can’t. You have to recognize you have LIMITATIONS. So my strategy for this film was simple. Give myself a ridiculously low number of scenes I was allowed to shoot a day, and I could not schedule over it. Sounds simple, but it’s not. The more time you spend shooting the more intricate, emotional scenes you feel you are going to capture. I’ve had a few shoots under my belt and now I understand you have to give yourself time. You have to give the crew time to move equipment. You must embrace hurry-up-and-wait. Therefore you may not get the 80 foot dolly Spike-Lee-shot. But that’s ok. This time I put trust in my ability as a director to plan shots and in my actors to emote. I think we were quite successful. I accomplished my two major tasks. We got all of our shots, and we got out on time. Hooray!
Now of course I look back and think, “If only I had gotten this or that.” But all that falls outside of the original plan. I had a plan and executed it successfully. So I quickly banish those thoughts from my brain.
Project management is a skill that can be applied across every aspect of everyday life. From planning production meetings to bake sales, understanding your limitations makes life easier for you and those that have to put up with your annoying director ways.