Managing a Film Project

How can you ensure that a film is produced on schedule, within budget, and within the desired scope? These issues are discussed with Michael Savva, a short film producer.

Elizabeth Harrin: Well, hello! Elizabeth Harrin: Hello! I’m Elizabeth Harrin, from A Girl’s Guide to Project Management. Today I’m here with Michael Savva, a short film festival finalist. Your film was just premiered at Marbella Film Festival.
Michael Savva says that’s right. It premiered at the international festival in October. It was a great venue to premiere a movie. There were lots of documentaries, big picture films, and lots of other films. Since then, we have been to three more festivals, and hopefully, many more next year.
Elizabeth: Brilliant! A project is an event or initiative that is unique. It has a start, middle, and end. The film fits that definition perfectly.
Michael: Definitely.
Elizabeth: How did you plan your film?
Michael: It’s difficult because you don’t have an end and it’s not set in stone. You have to work it out as you go along, sometimes more often than others. But you do plan. You should try to make a plan. You should set a date for auditions. Then, you will want to be able rehearse with the actors. Spend some time going through the script and maybe adapt it to the actor.
Filming can be difficult as you have to coordinate actors who are generally doing it for nothing. My method is to pay expenses and find actors looking for showreel material. In return, they can give me showreel material. It is hard to coordinate them with a soundman, cameraman, photographer, and a set designer. It is important to know the scope of your project. I have seen it happen with short film directors and film directors. You must also follow through if your understanding of what you are doing is solid.
Elizabeth: Yes, and you set mental milestones. By this point you’ll be able to do this…
Michael: Yes, absolutely. You must audition. The funny thing about auditions is that I had to do two to three days of auditions for a studio where I hired out many people. Many people cancelled, which was a good thing. It’s easy to overbook, but there were many actors I wanted to see who couldn’t make it to the audition days. So I often say, “Look, could we meet you for lunch break if it’s not too busy at work?”
Funny thing is, every actor in the movie turned out to not have appeared on the audition days. They were people I met impromptu. It’s kind of a strange thing. It’s amazing how quickly someone can pick up a copy and read it. It’s even easier if they can do it in the coffee shop.
Elizabeth: If they can do something there, they can also do it anywhere.
Michael: Exactly. It was great and we had a great cast of actors to work with us on the film. I think that’s what gave it its atmosphere and its feel-good vibe.
Elizabeth: One of the risks you just mentioned is that people may say they will attend an audition, but then they don’t show up?
Michael: Yeah.
Elizabeth: To mitigate against this, you can also overbook the audition days.
Michael: Yes, definitely. I always overbook. Overbooking is a must. Many people won’t show up. You don’t have to be afraid that people won’t show up. There will be a 20-person queue outside. You won’t. Pe

Managing a Film Project
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