The semester started five weeks ago and I’ve already line produced two short films and co-organized a film festival in addition to completing weekly assignments for all of my classes. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a rough few weeks and I’m just happy that I came out it alive.
Line producing is mentally and physically exhausting. Yes, it’s rewarding to work with passionate people. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with two directors who are passionate about their projects and make strident efforts toward finding their dream teams. Passion, respect, and empathy is everything. Not only were the directors that I worked with passionate about their stories, but they were also respectful of their entire cast and crew.
Every time I produce a short film at Columbia, I always learn something new. The first film that I produced this semester is called “Speedy,” and it’s a about a six-year-old boy’s loss of innocence when he accidentally kills his pet fish. The writer/director of the film is in her first year of the MFA directing program. The initial hurdles we had to overcome were casting and location scouting. Casting was an interesting process since we had to audition child actors for the main role. As a producer, when it comes to casting and crewing, it’s important to create a set that’s comfortable and safe for everyone and to understand union rules and labor laws.
Location scouting for “Speedy” wasn’t too difficult, and we ended up finding a location that was perfect for the story and on the easier side to work with logistically. One issue that came up with this production that could have been foreseeable, was the importance of confirming with each department head, at least 2 or 3 days before filming, that they had everything they needed to move forward with production. We ended up having to run a bunch of last minute errands without a 24 hour notice that our production design department didn’t have all of the necessary props for filming. Checking in with department heads on a weekly and sometimes daily basis leading up to the shoot is important. I use a line producing checklist throughout pre-production, however, in the future I also plan on creating weekly progress reports and checklists for each department.
All in all, working on “Speedy” was an incredible experience and the greatest takeaway from it was the opportunity to work with so many talented, genuine, and hard working folks. Teamwork is everything in this business and it was incredible to observe the “Speedy” team successfully accomplish an ambitious production.
A film titled, “Ethnically Ambiguous,” is the second film I produced during this semester and was scheduled to film the week after “Speedy.” Again, it was a complete joy to work with the team on that film. The writer/director is incredible and managed to pull together an amazing cast and crew. We had the most exciting and stressful experience of working with over 25 extras while staging a protest on the sidewalks of Chicago. Of course, this required us to obtain a filming permit from the city, which that in itself was a learning experience.
In the future, I probably won’t line produce two films back to back like that, even though I tried to look at it as a just a three day shoot. It’s important to give yourself time in between projects and try to slate them at least a month apart from each other. Luckily, I can say that both of these films turned out to be incredibly successful and I’m grateful for everyone that was involved in making them a success.