Pre-Production Tips: Top 10 Questions For 1st ADs or Producers to Ask (Themselves & Directors)
I came up with this list while joining a production that was halfway through shooting. The producer had quit earlier on and the former 1st AD, whom I was replacing, was unavailable due to a family emergency. You can use this list to help you transition into a production that has already started or as a reference point in the beginning.
My list implies that this is a low budget film and that the director may also be the producer (using his/her own funds). In any case, these questions are great to consider no matter what the budget is. These questions also assume that you’ve already established a production/shooting schedule.
image via metroscreen‘s Flickr
Top 10 Questions For 1st ADs or Producers to ask THEMSELVES
1. Who will drive — what (vehicles) and where to?
2. Are all crew positions filled for each day and if not, what will be my process for hiring in the midst of everything else?
3. What time does holding need to open (at each holding/each location/each day)?
4. Which crew members do I need to arrive first at holding each day and why?
5. What preparations do I need to take for crew accommodations for each day? (hotel rooms, flights, etc.)
6. Who am I using for crafty each day and how can I make sure that crew isn’t eating the same meal all the time?
7. Are all extras and featured extras confirmed for each location for each shoot day, and if not, what is my strategy for making this happen (if casting support is nonexistent)?
8. Are all locations CONFIRMED and do I hold copies of permits/related paperwork and all relevant contact info?
9. Do I have access to petty cash for each day IN ADVANCE and have I made sure there is a process for all departments to receive? (Do I also have accounting/financial related duties?)
10. Equipment rental: Do I have all contact info for all houses and information on their rates, requirements and return deadlines?
image via destinydesign‘s Flickr
Top 10 Questions For 1st ADs or Producers to ask DIRECTOR
1. Are there unscheduled scenes that require me to find additional elements (crew, locations, extras, props, etc.)?
2. Who is the DIT (Digital Intermediary Technician if shot on digital) and has he/she been briefed on his responsibilities/your preferred workflow method?
3. Are you still making changes to the script mid production and what can we do to make sure we stay on schedule? (offer options such as alternative shooting schedules, cutting scenes, etc.)
4. If you end up insisting on exceeding a 12 hour day, what are your thoughts on how we make it up to crew? (offer options such as additional pay, later call times, hard out rules, etc.)
5. Do your actors have any other obligations during this shoot/have they been asked? (auditions, doctor appointments, etc.)
6. Permits: If you insist we don’t need them, what can we do to ensure that we don’t end up being asked to leave a location (offer options like polite ways to lockdown sound, notifying neighbors/writing letter to city hall, requesting “don’t do” requirements from location contacts)?
7. Do you have production/vehicle insurance and what are their contact details (if they don’t, explain the benefits of having it)?
8. Have you already determined a payment/reimbursement process for crew? (if not, offer options)
9. Petty Cash: Can we have a lump sum to disseminate amongst departments and have them return change with receipts at end of each day or shoot?
(avoid having to approach director/producer for money each time it is needed)
10. Are there any personality conflicts that I should be aware of?
These questions only represent a minuscule fraction of what you need to keep track of before, during and after production, but they are a great place to start. Share your own lists of questions in the comments.