management and coordination in a digital age





INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITION INTRODUCTION I. PROJECT DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 1 – GETTING HIRED You As the Production Manager You As the Production Coordinator About the Production Manager & the Production Coordinator CHAPTER 2 – BEFORE OFFICIAL PREP From Development to Preproduction CHAPTER 3 – BUDGETING & BREAKDOWNS Overall Budgeting Issues The First Read or Preparing for the First Pass More Specific Budgeting Issues Series & Co-Production Budgets A Few More Overall Budgeting Issues CHAPTER 4 – YOUR KIT & ONLINE RESOURCES Your Reference Sources Your Start-Up Supplies Your Computer & Office Equipment Identify & Insure Your Kit II. PREPRODUCTION CHAPTER 5 – SETTING UP THE PRODUCTION OFFICE The Coordinator Sets Up the Physical Production Office The Manager Sets Up the Financial Backbone to the Office When Information Is Confidential Maximizing Email Confidentiality CHAPTER 6 – HIRING CREW Who Hires Whom Regarding Resumes, Cover Letters & the Internet


film production management 101 – 2nd edition – deborah patz

Regarding Crew Interviews Regarding Office Staff & Craft Service Union & Non-Union Crews Mentorships & Internships Firing Staff CHAPTER 7 – CREW DEPARTMENTS Office People Cast & Casting People Set People – Assistant Directors Other Set People Design, Building & Decorating People Technical People Hair, Makeup & Wardrobe People Special Departments People Postproduction People Publicity People CHAPTER 8 – WORK SPACE ORGANIZATION Electronic vs. Paper Work Spaces The PM’s Work Space The PC’s Work Space Creating a Document Trail CHAPTER 9 – TELEPHONE ETIQUETTE Choosing a Telephone System Reception: The Job CHAPTER 10 – SETTING UP A FILING SYSTEM Filing Electronically & Physically The Production Coordinator’s Files The Production Manager’s Files CHAPTER 11 – FORMS, MEMOS, LOGS, CHECKLISTS Forms & Memos-To-All to Create The Distribution Table & Other Places for Documentation CHAPTER 12 – COUNTDOWN TO PRODUCTION Three Weeks or More before Production Two Weeks before Production One Week before Production


III. PRODUCTION CHAPTER 13 – THE SHOOT DAY & CALL SHEETS The Shoot-Day Format Early Morning Morning Morning and/or Afternoon Lunchtime Afternoon (including Call Sheets & Location Maps) Late Afternoon At Wrap CHAPTER 14 – DAILY PRODUCTION REPORTS What Is a Daily Production Report? Who Generates the DPR? Who Else Reads the DPR? How to Read a DPR Publishing the DPR The Second-Unit DPR CHAPTER 15 – COUNTDOWN THROUGH PRODUCTION First Day of Principal Photography First Week of Principal Photography During Production Toward the End of Principal Photography IV. MORE MONEY & MANAGEMENT ISSUES CHAPTER 16 – LOCATION MANAGEMENT Location Scout vs. Location Manager Where to Find Locations What to Look for in a Location Crew Meetings about Locations Location Surveys Preparing for the Shoot Location Management during the Shoot Burned Locations CHAPTER 17 – PRODUCTION INSURANCE Buying Production Insurance Comprehensive General Liability & Worker’s Compensation The Entertainment Package


film production management 101 – 2nd edition – deborah patz

E & O Insurance (Errors & Omission Insurance) Corporate Policies Additional Insureds Insuring Micro Low-Budget Shoots Insurance Claims CHAPTER 18 – COMPLETION BONDS When You Need (or Might Not Need) a Bond Who Deals with or Reads a Bond How Much Paper Makes Up a Bond? What Is the Strike Price? Rebate Bonds vs. Regular Bonds What Happens When the Bond Is Called In The PM’s Relationship with the Bond Alternatives to a Bond CHAPTER 19 – PETTY CASH & PURCHASE ORDERS Petty Cash Checks Direct Checks Purchase Orders Check Requisitions A Word about Credit Cards CHAPTER 20 – CASH FLOWS Creating a Cash Flow Co-Production Cash Flows Amortization & Pattern Budget Cash Flows Micro-Budget Cash Flows CHAPTER 21 – INTERIM FINANCING Who Are Interim Lenders? How Lenders Finance Your Production How an Interim Loan Works or How Much Can I Borrow? What Paperwork Makes Up an Interim Loan Inter-party Agreement Add the Lender to the Bond & Insurance Minimizing the Interim Loan Amount CHAPTER 22 – OFFICIAL & PM-ONLY COST REPORTS The Official Cost Report Preparing the Cost Report


Co-Production Cost Reports Series (Amort & Pattern) Cost Reports The PM-Only Cost Report Managing Cash Flow through Production Dealing with Overages & Savings About Specific Cost Reports V. MORE CONTRACTING ISSUES CHAPTER 23 – DEAL MEMOS & LONG FORMS Crew Deal Memos The Start Pack Corporations vs. Employees Long Form Agreements Handling Signed Deal Memos CHAPTER 24 – CAST CONTRACTS & IMMIGRATION Auditions Cast Contracts Immigration & Traveling Stars ADR Sessions & Contracts CHAPTER 25 – SUPPLIER AGREEMENTS Supplier Letters of Agreement CHAPTER 26 – THE SPECIAL DEPARTMENTS Previs – 3D or 2D Previsualization Finding the Supplier for Special Shots SPFX – Special Effects Postvis CGI – Computer-Animated Effects Motion Control Blue Screen or Green Screen Working with Animals Stunts Working with Children Other Special Departments VI. MORE PRODUCTION & COORDINATION ISSUES CHAPTER 27 – SCRIPT FORMAT & REVISIONS The Production Manager & Script Revisions


film production management 101 – 2nd edition – deborah patz

The Production Coordinator & Script Revisions Formatting the Early Drafts Title Pages Feature Film Script Format Comedy Script Format Script Revisions CHAPTER 28 – PRODUCTION SCHEDULING Preproduction Schedule Production Schedule Production Board (Strip Board or the Board) Reading the Schedule A.D. Breakdown Pages One-Line Schedule Shooting Schedule Second Unit Scheduling for Low-Budget Productions Specialty Breakdown Memos CHAPTER 29 – CREDITS Screen Credit Design The Preview Drafts The Early Drafts The Final Drafts CHAPTER 30 – DOCUMENTATION DISTRIBUTION Reducing Paper Usage Tracking System Starter Distribution Lists The Joy of Documentation Distribution Lists The Production Report & All Its Backup Documentation VII. ONGOING SPECIAL ISSUES CHAPTER 31 – PUBLICITY & THE AUDIENCE Unit Publicity vs. Marketing Unit Publicity’s Schedule & Main Unit’s Schedule Typical Unit Publicity Elements When Confidentiality is the Publicity Plan


CHAPTER 32 – COURIER & CUSTOMS Couriers (Local & International) The Customs Broker Digital Viewing Copies Crossing Borders Wardrobe Crossing Borders Film Equipment Crossing Borders & Carnets Film Stock Crossing Borders Other Items Crossing Borders Hand Carrying Items across Borders CHAPTER 33 – SCRIPT, MUSIC, & OTHER LEGAL CLEARANCES The Script Clearance Report E & O Insurance How Script Clearance Reports Work Using Actual Names Copyright, Trademark, & Public Domain Creative Commons Licenses Music Clearances Photographic Clearances Other Clearances Moral Rights Title Searches Product Placement VIII. POSTPRODUCTION CHAPTER 34 – WRAP & WRAP PARTY The Production Manager Wraps The Production Coordinator Wraps The Wrap Party CHAPTER 35 – POSTPRODUCTION The Uniqueness of Postproduction The Stages of Postproduction The Postproduction Work Flow Vaults & Storage Delivery Air Dates & Release Dates & Festivals


film production management 101 – 2nd edition – deborah patz

CHAPTER 36 – AUDIT Must You Always Audit? The Various Reviews of an Audit The Documentation Needed for an Audit Other Documentation That May Be Needed CLOSING NOTES IX. APPENDIX GLOSSARY SAMPLE FORMS Development to Production Budget Sample #1 Development to Production Budget Sample #2 Blank Budget Top Sheet #1 Blank Budget Top Sheet #2 Blank Budget Top Sheet #3 Budget Breakdown Sample #1 “The Lists” Budget Breakdown Sample #2 “The Spreadsheet” Detail Page of a Budget Checklist of Questions/Notes for Budget Creation (2 pages) Time Sheet Accident Report Form Walkie-Talkie Sign-Out Form Cell Phone Sign-Out Form Keys & Security Cards Sign-Out Form Equipment Rental Log Courier Log Long Distance Log Copier Paper Count Development Cost Report Crew List (2 pages) Cast List Contact List (2 pages) Call Sheet Sample #1 Call Sheet Sample #2 (2 pages) Production Report Form #1 (blank) Production Report Form #2 (blank) (2 pages) Location Release Form Location Letter


Petty Cash Report Purchase Order (P.O.) Sample Purchase Order (P.O.) (Blank) P.O. Log Check Requisition Cash Flow Sample (Detail) Cash Flow Sample (Summary Page) Cost Report Sample (Top Sheet) PM-Only Cost Report #1 (Spreadsheet from Accounting) PM-Only Cost Report #2 (Spreadsheet Made by PM) PM-Only Cost Report #3 (Budget Form) PM-Only Cost Report #4 (Pencil Copy) Deal Memorandum (Especially for Non-Union Crew) Extras Release Form Performer’s Change of Date Form Letter of Agreement (Catering) Feature Film Title Page TV Series Title Page Drama Script Pages (2 pages) Comedy Script Page Sample Strip Board A.D. Breakdown Page A.D. Breakdown Page (blank) One-Line Schedule Shooting Schedule Credits Style #1 (4 pages) Credits Style #2 (3 pages) Document Distribution Binder - Tracking Form Document Distribution Binder - Tracking Form (Blank) Wall Envelope Distribution - Tracking Form Wall Envelope Distribution - Tracking Form (Blank) Wrap Party Checklist & Budget Form (2 pages) INDEX ABOUT DEBORAH PATZ


Hire the right people and let them do their jobs.


film production management 101 – 2nd edition – deborah patz

Going for my first interview to become a Production Coordinator, I was very nervous. I had jotted down in tiny writing on a cue card all the questions I could muster about the show and my prospective role in production. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was being interviewed by a relatively new Production Manager. He asked me a few general questions. I sputtered out a few answers. Silences and uncomfortable moments crept into the interview. Now and then I referred to my cue card and asked a question myself. The Production Manager was intrigued by the card in my hand. He leaned forward to get a glimpse of its contents, then said: “You seem more prepared for this than I am. Why don’t you take over the interview?” I realized then that he was as nervous as I was about this whole interview. So I blatantly referred to my cue card and continued with my questions, jotting down answers as we discussed the different topics. Soon conversation was lively, direct, and informative. He leaned back in comfort and we lost track of time chatting about film, the project, and the workings of a production office. By the next day I was working in that office. But it occurred to me that the only question I didn’t ask him at the time was: Did I get the job?


Before thinking about working as a Production Manager or Coordinator, you first think about getting hired as one. Y have ou exhausted your network of contacts and their contacts and have finally made it to an interview for just that job. Y C.V is short, our . to the point, and shows off your experience and education related to this particular job. If it is your first job interview as a PM or a PC, you have worked hard to get here and you are pretty sure you can do the job. Y just need the chance to prove yourself. Y are trying ou ou your best to show how relevant your experience is, how professional you are, and basically emanate all your best working qualities. But what are “they” looking for from you?
YOU AS THE PRODUCTION MANAGER BEFORE THE INTERVIEW Y have probably already had a telephone interview. Y have ou ou an idea of what the film is about. Y may know some of the key ou people involved, the overall size of the budget, and when and how long the shoot is planned. Y need to know more. ou The first stop for your research should be online. Surf the company’s website and read up on it prior to the interview. Surf the websites of the company’s previous productions. Research the Producer, Director, and any other key members of the team that you know about. How professional are their presentations? Do you want to be associated with these people in your career? Y may also have the opportunity to read the script prior ou to attending the interview. Take the chance if you can. As PM, or as PC, you will be selling how wonderful the script is to many



film production management 101 – 2nd edition – deborah patz

other people and companies along the production process. Y better love it — or ou something about it — now. Y may also have the chance to read the budget prior to attending the ou interview. Take this opportunity if you can. Y are going to be hired to keep to ou this budget. Y want to know it inside and out as soon as possible. Read the script ou first, then make notes and questions about the budget while reading the budget. How were these decisions made? Y are going to be hired to follow up on these ou key decisions during production. Can you do it? Call industry people you know and trust to find out what they know about these Producers or this production company. Y are checking their references. ou Y want this job to be a good fit for both you and them. Remember, when ou checking references, you want information closest to the source. People who have heard rumors, rather than having had direct experience working with those you are checking on, can give you dangerously misleading information. Also remember that personality clashes can give you biased feedback, too. Just store up the reference information you collect, go to the interview, and make a decision for yourself. It is your career, after all, and your prospective employer is calling your references right now, too.
WHAT TO BRING TO THE INTERVIEW Take notes during your research. Y will have questions to ask the ou Producer(s) about the production. Prepare now so you don’t end up leaving the interview saying to yourself, “If only I’d asked…” Use a small note pad, or index . cards you can refer to. Bring a pen or a pencil so you can jot down answers or names you collect. Y are not being hired to memorize. Reference material is ou okay. A scripted book of notes would be excessive. Also bring another copy of your C.V. The Producers should already have a copy, but it may only be an illegible scan or fax, or they may forget to bring it. Be prepared. AT THE INTERVIEW The interview could be in a production office, a head office, or even in a restaurant. It depends on the people, their style and situation… and where they can find a private space away from telephones to talk with you. Y will be ou interviewed by the Line Producer, the Producer, the Executive or VP in charge of production, or perhaps a combination of them all. It will depend on the situation. Ease in with chitchat. Chitchat is an opportunity to find out something personal about the people you may be working with. Y can use chitchat as your ou opportunity to show off your attitude toward life and work and how you balance the two.



Who Are the Producers? There are always a number of Producers on a production. They can be: Executive Producers, Co-Producers, Producer, Associate Producers, Line Producers, Creative Producers, etc. Find the complete list of who is on board the production and how involved they are. Some may have worked on the initial assembling of the development package; you may never see them during the course of production. Some may be very “hands-on,” showing up daily on set, and attending all meetings. Some Producers work in-house at a production company, while others are freelance and hired, just like you. Include all the Producers’ names in your notes. Y can research these new names later on at home. Confirm to whom ou you, as a PM, will be reporting. Y should be reporting to the Line Producer or ou Producer, who will in turn report to the Executives. Y will not have time to ou report to several people. Determine if there is a clear chain of command in place. WHAT “THEY” ARE LOOKING FOR The job of the Production Manager is a hugely responsible position. The Producers have been raising money for years to make this production. They have expended a lot of effort developing this project to where it is today. Y as a PM, ou, are being hired to spend the money they have assembled in a superbly short time frame to move this project from script to screen. Y better be able to spend the ou money wisely — on time and on budget. Although you will learn something on every job you do, a Producer is not looking to, and should not, train you as a PM. A Producer wants you for your expertise and professionalism. The company is going to put a lot of trust in you and the team you hire. How wisely do you spend the budget? How well do you track the money as it is being spent? How fast and how accurately do you create cost reports? Can you handle the stress of it all? Know Your Expertise Now, of course, no two productions are identical. Just because you production-managed one show does not mean you can manage any production. Some projects are on a much larger scale than others. Some involve several countries. Some involve shooting with kids, animals, and special effects. Some are shot in HD or other digital format, 3D, or on film. Some specialize in doing everything for “food and favors,” while others can pay some of the crew overscale. Do you have experience in production with any of these specialties? Is your background experience compatible with this budget, this script, and this company? Maybe you were working on a production, but not as the Production Manager, and you were the one who negotiated all the rights for the pre-recorded music — and this production is all about music. Though not PM-experience specifically, your


film production management 101 – 2nd edition – deborah patz

knowledge may be superbly relevant to this particular production. Y may know ou more about music clearances than the Producers, so they will need your expertise. Y must understand what you can do. Then you can demonstrate how useful ou your experience is to this production.
What Is the Vision? The Producer wants to hire people who are all moving in the same direction, making the same film. Take time to discuss the vision of the final film and the budgetary choices already made in the development budget. If the Producer at the interview has created the current production budget, this is fortunate for you. Bring out your budget questions and start asking. Where does the Producer want the money to be spent? Is the shot with 1,000 extras integral to the story, or can it be cheated with 100 extras, or moved to another location with no extras at all? Now is the time to gather a sense of what has to stay in the story and what is expendable. While asking the questions, ask yourself if you can make this “vision” for this budget. This responsibility will be yours. Know Your Style Are you a “paper person” who loves to analyze numbers and report them? Or are you a “people person” who prefers to be on set, physically overseeing production and discussing and observing the status? Y will need to balance both ou abilities; if the Producer you are about to work with prefers one more than the other, be prepared to make the right choice to work most effectively. Also know if you prefer to rule a set in almost military efficiency, or if you prefer a quiet approach to earning the crew’s respect. Are you an organizer or do you need an organizer to make it through the day? Know yourself. Y will be working in ou close quarters with the Producer and the Line Producer. Be prepared to determine if your work styles are compatible. Difficult Decisions Have you ever fired someone? Have you dealt with difficult people or bruised egos? How do you inspire people? Are you confident enough to advise the Producer or Line Producer how to cut costs? Have you ever analyzed a situation and decided that, for the best of the project, someone key needs to be fired? Can you make these difficult decisions? Look into your career history. What have been your most difficult decisions? Share these. The Producer needs someone who can make such decisions. The Producer also needs someone who can deal with widely varied issues both delicately and confidentially.



Who Do You Know? The Producer or production company may have preferred suppliers they already use. They may have names of people they want in key roles or suggest to be in key roles. Others will be looking to you to bring your contacts and crews. Y our experience with crews will grow over time, but you should know some reliable crew already. How do these people work? How do they work together? Do they have your respect? A Producer needs a PM who has the crew’s respect. As PM, you will often be the “no” person, informing the crew that they cannot have or rent something because of budgetary restrictions. Y have to inspire them to think ou of creative alternatives. Do you have an office team of a Production Coordinator, Assistant Production Coordinator, and Office Production Assistant (Office P.A.) ready to go? If preproduction is fast approaching, it will be good for you to have these people on standby already. Y may be starting tomorrow. ou WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR Y are part of this interview, too. The fit has to work both ways. Here ou are some things to consider and to ask yourself during the interview to ensure a good fit. Y questions and participation in the interview will generate further our questions and discussions from the Producer, and show the Producer how involved you will be on the production. Y will win some trust and assurance with the ou questions you choose to ask. Notice if the Producer evades some of your questions or is open about the answers. This interview will set the tone for your working relationship. What’s the Film About? Have the Producer(s) tell you about the film. Find out both the creative and the financial aspects of the production. Find out the development history of the project. Now is a perfect opportunity for the Producers to show their excitement about the project and sell it to you. If you are to become the PM, you will have to sell the project over and over again to many others. Find out what magic the Producers see in the project. Is the Budget Locked? Find out low “locked” the budget is. At a certain stage, the Producer has to “lock” the budget for the financiers and begin cost reporting to the locked budget, showing the overages and savings on a line-by-line basis. Hopefully, you will have the opportunity as PM to take a final pass at the budget before locking it, adding your budgeting expertise to it, bringing the estimates per line as close to reality


film production management 101 – 2nd edition – deborah patz

as possible. With all the variables that happen during the course of production, you will never be exact about each line item, but from working on show after show, you will have a better sense each time where money is actually spent instead of just budgeted to be spent. This pass at the budget will also help you become intimately familiar with each budget line and what it is intended to purchase. Ask yourself: Can I hire the crew I need on these wages? Can I rent the equipment I need with this budget?
Is Anything Spent Already?

Sometimes a Producer will have pre-allocated costs to contingency. Find out immediately if such is the case. Do not wait until you are hired before you find out that contingency money in your budget is already spoken for and will not be there for emergencies.
What Cost Reporting Is Needed? Usually you generate a cost report either bi-weekly or monthly during preproduction, weekly during production, and monthly during postproduction. If you are working on an international co-production, are you reporting on all the costs of production, or just this country’s costs, leaving the other costs for the other country’s accounting people? How soon in the next week does the Producer expect to see a completed cost report? What will your production office be audited on after the end of production? Ask yourself if you and your accounting team can generate cost reports this soon. Remember that cost reporting is all geared toward the final audit. Plan for the end of the process from the beginning. Is your office going to audit all the costs of production or just the local costs of production? What is the Schedule? Find out what the production schedule is. How flexible is the delivery date? Does the Producer think the schedule is tight already? Have you shot films this fast before? How fast does the director shoot? Discuss the possibilities and ask yourself if you can bring the project in on time under these circumstances and with these people. More About the Vision Y have already discussed the vision of the film with the Producer. Get a ou sense if you can, prior to your first days on the job, whether or not the Director and the Producer have the same vision. Is the Director known for wide-sweeping, expensive vista shots, yet the Producer is planning an intimate, close, personal story? How do the Director and the Producer communicate? How long have they



been working together? Are they making the same film? Any sense you form about their communication abilities will provide you a foreshadowing of how difficult or seamless the production will be.
Biggest Challenges of the Shoot Find out from the Producer what she expects to be the biggest challenge(s) of the shoot. Will there be prototype equipment in use with no back-up plan for when the equipment breaks down? Are there multi-country logistics to be navigated? Does the Star Performer have limited availability to schedule the shoot around? Even though you will read the script and discover other potential challenges or expensive elements for the road ahead, it is good to seek out clues from the Producer’s point of view of this particular production’s challenges. Who Is the Team? Y have already found out about the list of Producers attached to the ou project. Who else is on board? Find out how involved you are expected to be when it comes to hiring the key crew. Ask yourself if you know of qualified people to fill these roles. Is the Office Ready? Find out if the Producer has a production office or a studio already, or if you are expected to find them. More than likely, finding a production office will be your first task. Any Preferred Suppliers? Find out if the Producer has preferred suppliers. Is there a computer graphics company already on board? If they have quoted on CGI (computer graphic imagery) costs for the early draft budget created during development, there will be such a company on board already. If the Producer has a track record, he will likely already have a post facility of preference, and an insurance company. Find out and note these names. It will be time to introduce yourself soon, should the job be yours. What Do You Get Out of the Film? (PC-PM) Finally, ask yourself what do you get out of this production should it be offered and you take the job? Do you like the project and the people? Are you comfortable with the pay and committed number of weeks and are you confident


film production management 101 – 2nd edition – deborah patz

that you can do the work? Maybe you are being offered this job for less pay than you would rather earn. In that case, evaluate how this show will further your career. Will you be working with someone with whom you want to develop a career contact? Will you be working in a medium with which you have little experience? Does this job fit nicely into your calendar to fill in the space before the high production season begins? Are you particularly passionate about this script or this story? On super-low-budget productions, remember that you have to be getting something out of the production, too. Y are about to work extremely ou long and hard hours, face difficult decisions, and defy all sorts of odds to bring the production in on time and on budget, allowing the creative vision to be realized. Whatever you are paid, you have to be totally dedicated to the project. If you do your job badly, you will hurt your career. Y have to find the passion to do it well. ou Ask yourself: Am I passionate about this project?
Think About It There is no need to accept a job on the spot if you are offered the position. Thank the Producer or the line Producer for his or her* time, and leave the interview to at least have a cup of coffee and evaluate what you have just learned. It is more likely you will want to sleep on the decision. Y are making a career choice. It is ou a big decision. Take the night before answering. Once hired, you will be changing seats and first hiring a Production Coordinator to be your right hand during production. This person will put the office together and keep it all running for you. Y need an organizer. Have a ou look over the coordinator interview questions below, and assemble the answers from the Producer before you are faced with these questions yourself. Y will be ou answering them over and over again with all crew interviews. YOU AS THE PRODUCTION COORDINATOR BEFORE THE INTERVIEW As a Production Coordinator, just like the PM, do your research prior to the interview. Searching the Internet is the first step to source information about companies and people. Bring a pen, paper, and cue cards into the interview. Assemble some questions on them. As a Production Coordinator, you are being hired to organize not to memorize. This is your opportunity to be organized in the interview. On the job you will be walking around with pen and paper anyway, so make this practice your habit now.
* This is the last time you will read “his or her;” from this point on, I will use one or the other pronoun and assume you understand that at any single time, either sex could apply.



THE INTERVIEW Relax and enjoy, if you can. The Coordinator and the Manager need to develop an easy communication and working relationship. Here are some questions to start the conversation rolling. Do not be afraid, however, of interview tangents. If these questions spark further conversation and further questions, that is okay. The Coordinator and the Manager will be spending a lot of time together, so you are expected to be able to communicate well. The only warning about interview tangents is to be aware of any time restrictions. Too much chat can warn the Manager that more conversation than work will be done during the shoot. What Are the Shooting Start and End Dates? This will be the first question the crew will ask of you. Do You Expect to Have Weekend Shoots or 6-Day Work Weeks? Some films schedule their workweek to include shooting on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays to take advantage of reduced traffic or greater location availability. If you will be dealing with a 6-day workweek, consider and adjust your fee accordingly. Do You Expect to Have Long Shooting Days? The film will be budgeted to shoot a certain minimum number of hours per day. Is it planned to be a 9-hour day or 12-hour day? Note that lunch hour is not included in describing the day’s length, so a 9-hour day plus lunch is actually 10 hours long. How Do You Like the Office Run? Some Production Managers insist that the office be open at least 30 minutes prior to call time until 30 minutes after wrap, with prep and wrap days being a minimum of 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Some Production Managers will leave the office-opening schedule up to the Coordinator. Will the Film Have “Day Shoots” and/or “Night Shoots”? On night shoots, some Production Managers prefer to have the office open both business hours (9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.) and set hours (all night long). If this is the case, you will need extra office crew to make it happen. Discuss this now. What is budgeted?


film production management 101 – 2nd edition – deborah patz

How Elaborate Is the Shoot? Will there be a lot of extras, locations, special effects, music clearances? The Production Manager may ask what you mean by this question, which is designed to help you determine how complex your job is going to be. Will There Be Any Performers or Crew from Out of Town? This question will determine how much you will need to deal with travel agents and immigration. Who is the Film For? Another question the crew will have for you right away — in order to find out who is broadcasting the show or which distributor is handling the feature. Who Are the Producers? How Many Are There? How Involved Are They? Executives from many different companies and countries can be listed as the Producers for a film. There can be Executive Producers, Supervising Producers, Associate Producers, Creative Producers, Producers, Co-Producers, Line Producers, or any other “Producer” title newly invented. Since the titles are not standard for describing the duties of each position, you need to find out how each Producer is involved and in what order (often a political decision) to put them on the crew list. As subtext, you will also learn how big a job your documentation distribution to the various companies will be, and you may form an estimate of how long head office decisions take by determining how active each of the various Producers intends to be. What Is the Company Name for this Film Production? For legal and accounting purposes, film companies set up separate incorporated companies for each production. Y need to know this name to conduct any ou business, from making letterhead to setting up accounts and contracts. Where Are the Production Offices? How Set Up Are They? Some offices are simply empty rooms that you have to furnish from scratch. Others are fully furnished right down to telephone systems and copier/scanners. This question will determine how busy you will be in your first few days. Do You Have a Computer System Already? What Kind Is it? Often the Production Coordinator comes to a production with a computer. If you do, negotiate a kit-rental fee and find out if your system or training is compatible with the company’s. Is there a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or FTP



site linking the production and post teams with the post facility and/or head office? If so, what technical requirements and personnel are necessary to connect the required people and locations?
Do You Have Corporate Accounts Already Established? Some companies prefer that you use their head-office courier, photocopier, office stationery accounts, etc., whereas others encourage you to bring in your own contacts. What Production Documentation is Required? Any Preferred Forms? These questions are merely confirmation that the Production Manager wants completed production reports, call sheets, production schedules, and so on. Though redundant, the queries should spark further discussion about any existing forms the company prefers to use, digitization expectations of completed documents, and who, between the Assistant Directors and you, will be responsible for certain records. Y ou will also learn how easy it is to talk to the Production Manager and how much the PM will rely on you for the correct documentation on the show. How Much of the Crew has been Hired? Here is where your pen and paper prove useful. Write down all names and positions the Production Manager mentions. Also note the status of each person. Often names will be chosen for the various positions, but not yet confirmed. Be aware of who may come on board, but never publish any unconfirmed information on a crew list. This is your opportunity to show how you deal with confidential information. How Many Staff Will Be in the Office? Find out how much the budget allows for Assistant Coordinators, Receptionist, and Office P.A.s. Also find out if you will be hiring the Assistants, or if they will be appointed for you. Some Assistant roles may be already hired or promised by Producers, Managers, or Executives prior to your arrival. How Soon Do You Want the Production Coordinator to Start? This start date will be a budgetary concern for the Production Manager. Be prepared if the date is tomorrow. What Is the Budget for the Production Coordinator? This is the dance of the numbers. Y ask the Production Manager how ou much is in the budget, the Production Manager asks you how much you expect


film production management 101 – 2nd edition – deborah patz

to make. If the coordinator job is union, the dance can be short, as you can look up the scale rate to start; but if the job is non-union, the price range is enormous. If you intend to jump in with the first number, consider the scale and the budget of the film together with your research from other coordinators to determine a starting price. Remember to negotiate your computer and equipment kit rental separately. Y may not be able to have all the answers to your questions right away. ou That is okay. Y can leave some of the questions for the first day of the job. As ou mentioned in the Production Manager section, you as the Production Coordinator do not have to decide to take the job at the interview. The Production Manager may be interviewing other candidates and will want to make a decision later. Y ou are welcome to think about the possible job overnight, too. Later, review your cue cards and notes. Do you want to be involved with and be a part of this job? It will be a huge commitment. Long, hard hours. Think about it seriously. Sleep on it. Then follow up with the Production Manager the next day.

The Production Manager oversees everything the Production Coordinator does. This process may seem slow at first, but as the PM and the PC develop a relationship of trust, the Coordinator can be given room to initiate more duties unsupervised. The production office is a very busy place, and everything eventually makes it past the Coordinator’s desk. A Production Coordinator should never forget to inform the Production Manager of what is happening. The PM needs to know as much as the PC does about all that is going on in the making of the film. At its best, the PM and the PC will become friends and trust each other with secrets that will help both in excelling at their jobs. At its worst, the PM and the PC will neither inform nor help each other, and the production will stumble along with great problems as everyone finds out crucial information after the fact. Communication is a two-way street, so start off your side as best you can. Work at it. Invest in it. Congratulations! Y made it to the end of the interview as a Production ou Manager or a Production Coordinator! Y have been hired! Celebrate. Take ou yourself out for dinner and a movie. After today, you are going to give an awful lot of your time and effort to the production. The real adventure is about to begin. Y are about to turn an empty set of rooms into a running, thriving film ou production office. Armed with all the answers you acquired during the interview, you are ready for the adventure.

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