When it comes to making movies, they don’t happen overnight. They take months or sometimes years to complete, and the shortest part of production is actually filming it. This is all possible because of the organized individuals that keep production on task. Although, this has been a major problem on sets I have worked on while in Atlanta. Crews often aren’t organized, directors don’t have any paperwork done, and they never have a first A.D. to keep the set on track and on schedule. In my experience, directors should have completed their paperwork, crew should keep gear organized and easily accessible, and productions should always hire an A.D.
A director should always be organized and practically have the script memorized. When on set, the director should have a shot list, overheads, storyboards, and a script breakdown on standby. That way if there is ever any confusion, they can quickly reference all the paperwork. This also makes it easy to explain what the next shot or scene will look like to others. It’s hard to keep an entire movie’s worth of information in your head. Even if you can remember it all, it is hard to explain all that information to others. This has been the downfall of many directors I have worked with. They think directing is making sure a shot looks good and making sure actors perform well, and while that is part of it, you should have the whole scene mapped out beforehand.
Keeping gear organized is difficult, I don’t want to make it seem like this job is easy, but it is essential. The amount of equipment the average shoot has is astounding, so it is necessary to keep all of the gear organized and separated from each other. Lighting should be on its own, camera on its own, art on its own, etc. This will make the flow of set a whole lot easier because everyone will be able to access their gear at any given time. Many sets I’ve worked on just throw all the gear into one room and call it good. Unfortunately, organization is not high on many shoot lists.
Someone in Charge
This is the big one. Organization within departments is very important, but having someone who is in charge of organizing the entire set is absolutely vital, and completely overlooked. Very few sets I have been on have hired a first A.D. Everyone seems to think they can do the job of an A.D. easily so they don’t hire one. That is the biggest mistake you can make. A good A.D. is the difference between getting a film done and getting a film done well. I’ve been on a few sets where we do have a good first A.D. and when I tell you set ran like clockwork I am not lying. While we were filming a scene the A.D. would have crew setting up the next scene. So, when we finished all we had to do was bring the camera to the next location. This is all possible because they’ve taken the time to make a shooting schedule for the day and timed out how long each shot should take. This amount of work should not be overlooked.
Organization is something many people struggle with. Whether it’s organizing how you spend your time or how you organize your house, people seem to struggle with it. We all know how rewarding it is to finally take the time to do it. Make sure to take the time to clean that room or make a schedule for your day. It’s a good feeling and you can get a lot of work done. It’s the same thing with shoots. Yes, it is tedious to put a light back exactly where you got it from. Yes, it is exhausting to sit down and make a shooting schedule after filming all day, but in the end it is all worth it.