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#1 Jayson Crothers

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 08:33 PM

As I sit here looking at a shooting schedule for an upcoming feature (24 days), I find myself wondering how shooting schedules of today compare to those of past eras. To date I've photographed four features, with the longest schedule being 23 days; if I recall, David said his latest was around 7 weeks, and something like Syriana had around 70 or so (I can't recall what Robert Elswit said precisely, but it was 71, 72........).

Anybody know what types of schedules things like "Citizen Kane", "Casablanca", "Wizard of Oz", "Star Trek (the original)", etc had? Were 12 hour days standard back in the day as well?

Not a particularly practical question, more for my own curiosity.

Thanks.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 01:31 AM

"Citizen Kane" started at the end of June and wrapped in mid October, but then had 2nd Unit pick-ups shots up til mid November. About 3 1/2 months of principal photography -- 15 weeks?

"Vertigo" had a similar schedule, late September through mid December.

"Star Trek: The Motion Picture" was considerably longer, from early August to late January, a 125-day shoot ("Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan" was shot in half that time.)

Generally in the height of the studio era (1940's, 50's) the hours on sets were fairly regular because of union rules (after much abuse in the 1920's and early 1930's). I would guess that 8-hour work days were common.

Also, movies used to shoot a lot less coverage than they do now, and used fewer cuts. Now we average 12-hour work days and we shoot a lot more coverage.

Edited by David Mullen, 21 December 2005 - 02:10 AM.

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#3 Max Jacoby

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 03:55 AM

What concerns me more than the lenght of the schedule is the fact that most films are shot in 6 day weeks, which I think is an absolute killer. So far I've only done one feature with 5 day weeks and the difference was very noticeable. 2 days off allow you to recoup your strenght and as a result one hit the proverbial wall in the middle of the shoot as is so common during 6 day weeks.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 12:19 PM

I can handle a 6-day week feature if it's only three weeks total, maybe four, but that's about it. Anything five or more weeks long, it gets too grueling to only have one-day off to recover and catch-up on your life and laundry.
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#5 Mitch Gross

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 10:00 PM

I've had a few features that were originally scheduled for six-day weeks that we changed to five-day weeks during pre-production. Usually the reason is budget (occassionally actor/location availability) and if the schedule is long enough the package deals that can be worked with equipment providers and with crew can all but eliminate the difference. I have a number of crew that will gladly make a slight monetary consession in order to get a five-day week. And I don't know a producer or director who doesn't appreciate the extra time to deal with whatnot during the course of the shoot.
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#6 Paul Bruening

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 07:16 AM

Micro budget features often lose days here and there due to location cop-outs, actor no-shows and the like. I schedule six day shoots in four weeks. Invariably, we get extra half days and full days off due to unforeseens. If I scheduled five day shoots, I'd never get the thing shot.
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#7 Steven C. Boone

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 11:13 AM

"Citizen Kane" started at the end of June and wrapped in mid October, but then had 2nd Unit pick-ups shots up til mid November. About 3 1/2 months of principal photography -- 15 weeks?

"Vertigo" had a similar schedule, late September through mid December.

"Star Trek: The Motion Picture" was considerably longer, from early August to late January, a 125-day shoot ("Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan" was shot in half that time.)

Generally in the height of the studio era (1940's, 50's) the hours on sets were fairly regular because of union rules (after much abuse in the 1920's and early 1930's). I would guess that 8-hour work days were common.

Also, movies used to shoot a lot less coverage than they do now, and used fewer cuts. Now we average 12-hour work days and we shoot a lot more coverage.


My question is, is David Mullen an actual person or a vast database located in some underground repository at USC? Unfair that somebody can shoot movies so well <i>and</i> have such a command of history. (No, I'm not gunning for a job.) Anyway, much appreciated.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 07:47 PM

My question is, is David Mullen an actual person or a vast database located in some underground repository at USC? Unfair that somebody can shoot movies so well <i>and</i> have such a command of history. (No, I'm not gunning for a job.) Anyway, much appreciated.


I just grabbed some books off of the shelf and checked. It was a good question actually -- I never thought to look that info up before! Of course, these 15-week or so schedules were only for "A" studio pictures.

If I could find my "Making of Casablanca" book, I'd check to see how many days that movie was shot in.
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#9 Mitch Gross

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 08:54 PM

I was just flipping through the latest issue of Premiere and an article on the new Superman movie noted that the first one (which also included significant portions of Superman II) had a 19 month shoot!
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#10 K Borowski

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 09:02 PM

IIRC, Citizen Kane, might have been shot before the 40 hour work week kicked in in the United States, which shows just how strong the film unions must have been back then to get a work week even more lenient than the one prescribed by the laws of the United States.

Regards.

Karl Borowski
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#11 Jayson Crothers

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 04:46 AM

As always, the site is a wealth of information. Thanks David and everyone else!
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#12 Max Jacoby

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 05:26 AM

'Eyes Wide Shut' was shot over a 13 month period, but there were some breaks in the schedule as well. The 'Harry Potter' films take almost a year to shoot, with the second unit starting earlier and finishing later than the first unit.
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