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50 Things to Know About Film Production

By Chelsea Blacker  |  06-May-2008

The following list is based on one created by Tisch School of the Arts (NYU) Professor Maureen Ryan.

1. Feed your crew every 6 hours.
2. Never assume anything.
3. Always hire the best crew you can afford.
4. Everone wants to be a part of something. This is often more important than money to the right person.
5. Leave the Attitude at home.
6. If you don't know something, ask.
7. There are only so many hours of daylight in a given day. PLan accordingly.
8. Delegate to competent people.
9. Work hard on set. Work harder off the set to create a balanced life.
10. When everone is doing their job and working towards the same goal, anything is possible.
11. Love what you do, it's too hard otherwise.
12. Explaining what you have planned to all the crew members. They'll buy into it at the beginning of the day adn everything will be easier, better, smoother.
13. Be curious. You can't know everything, so ask for advice/help.
14. Treat your crews well and they'll recommend you for jobs.
15. Talk to your crew if you might have to delay lunch, or else face meal penalties.
16. Gaffer's tape can repain anything. (cars, appliances, rental equipment, but not a broken heart)
17. Negotiation is a conversation. Everyone needs to keep their self-respect and feel they are being considered.
18. Always record 60 seconds of Room Tone before moving to the next set.
19. Pre-production is everything.
20. No yelling! Ever!
21. Mutual respect is the only way.
22. Decency trumps talent every time.
23. Return phone calls within 24 hours.
24. Email whenever possible or you don't need an answer immediately.
25. No animals or children on set - if at all possible.
26. It always takes longer than you think. Schedule accordingly.
27. Craft service is the last bastion of civility.
28. Every action has a consequence that affects so many others.
29. The Golden Rule rules!
30. If you get behind in teh schedule, figure out what you can lose, or find more money for overtime.
31. Figure out teh director's "throughline" - it will make your life a lot easier.
32. Pad your budget.
33. Never say "no" to the director or a crew person. Always say "let's see"; this way, they know they've been heard and never feel shut down.
34. Listen AND look.
35. Build it all up. Wait for it to fall apart. Then build it all up again.
36. Do what's best for the project, not your wgo or some other agenda. It keeps it all simple and "clean".
37. Don't put the chocolate out on the craft service table until after lunch.
38. Hang out at the back of the Grip Truck if you want to know what really is happening on set.
39. Casting is 90% of the work.
40. Change your shoes after lunch. Your feet will thank you.
41. Figure otu your own strengths and weaknesses and then hire others to fill out your areas of weakness.
42. Always watch and listen to audio playback a few takes into the shoot.
43. If there is one bad apple, get rid of it.
44. There are no problems, only solutions.
45. Always actualize the budget after ti's compelte. It gives you a wealth of information.
46. Pay all outstanding invoices in less than 30 days.
47. Don't always go with the lower price - there's more than just money to consider.
48. Get a good caterer. it makes for a happy and productive crew.
49. Inspire others to join the cause by your own example.
50. You can only have 2 out of the 3, pick which ones you need: FAST, CHEAP, or GOOD.

More from Chelsea Blacker's blog can be found at

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