1.8. Scheduling

Big budget film productions use specialised software such as Movie Magic Scheduling. This not only provides an hour-by-hour schedule but imports the script and provides a breakdown of its elements, often with a single keystroke. For example, it can give you a list of props required and when they are needed…or if you select a particular actor it can tell you when he or she is required to play their character. Alas Movie Magic is expensive and for the purposes of this course, we will work with a more simple scheduling model on Microsoft Excel (Appendix 1f).For a short film, this type of simple schedule is perfectly adequate. The main considerations are:

1. Films do not have to be shot in sequence. Shoot all the scenes in a particular location in one go even if they are not in chronological order in the script. Don’t worry – this won’t confuse the actors! Once they’re engrossed in a role, it shouldn’t matter when the scene is shot. For example, the last scene shot on popular Christmas movie It’s A Wonderful Life was the first scene in the script!
2. Don’t overextend your resources by trying to do too much in a given day . With a low-budget feature film, or TV series, there may be a tight schedule with a large number of script ‘pages’ to shoot in a given day…up to six or seven pages, which is a lot, on average (remember a page of script equals around a minute of screen time). A short film that is, say, four minutes has the luxury of spreading this out over two days to give plenty of time for the ‘creatives’ on set to do their magic.
3. While the number of pages shot per day is a key consideration, an even more important one is ‘Set up times.’ It can take hours to set up a single shot if it is in any way complicated by lighting, props etc. At the very least it will take half an hour. However, if a number of scenes use the same basic set up, they can be shot quite quickly.
4. Be aware of which scenes are day and night, obviously shooting at appropriate times.
5. Plan your shoot in a geographically convenient way. For example, do locations in the south side of a city before moving to the north side. Or film all the downstairs scenes in a house before moving upstairs. Note that a scene is defined as action that takes place within a given set-up. Be careful not to include someone wandering all over a house in a single scene. With low budget film making, a new scene (and set up) is required every time the action leaves a room.

Written Assignment
Create an appropriate and achievable schedule for your film project