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Convincing 1stTime Filmkrs to book Prod. staff


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#1 Michael LaVoie

Michael LaVoie
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Posted 27 January 2014 - 08:16 PM

Need some advice, I have shot quite a few microbudget features ( meaning non studio, non company, privately backed films) for first time directors and one issue that has been all too common among many of the shoots is the lack of an experienced production team (line producer, production manager, upm, co-ordinator, 1st A.D. etc.) 
 
On those shoots that lacked that, I'd just do enough prep on my own and the scripts and conditions weren't really that tough. We always managed okay with reasonable days  and the greener people involved handled their tasks well. In some cases it was a little bumpier than others.  Some films offered good pay, an interesting script and the director was well intentioned and genuinely nice. So I took those gigs and the only thing missing was the production team.  
 
Most importantly, that voice of authority on set calling the roll etc. The 1st A.D.  Without that, it pretty much falls to me to make sure that we keep a 12 hour day.  So it means I have extra work to keep track of the time and keep everything moving.  On top of that, the amount of confirming and reconfirming every piece of gear and crew member throughout the shoot is exhausting.  Not having any call sheets till the very last second, or call sheets with misinformation. That sort of super annoying stuff.   A proper production staff allows a DP a little piece of mind that things are taken care of.  You can go to sleep knowing everything you need and everyone you need will be on set the next day at the right location at the right time.
 
But to new producers, it seems like the whole idea of the production department is just inconvenient information that no one wants to hear. Very few first time directors see the value in staffing positions that they don't quite understand. They often think an A.D. is a "Directors Assistant". Meaning their own personal assistant. They feel like they can do a production co-ordinators job themselves or have their friend handle it all. etc.
 
Has anyone else had this problem?  How do you convince newbie producers to turn over the reigns and book a production department to make the process a lot smoother and streamlined.  I have a tough time making any headway with these recommendations.  Maybe I'm the wrong person to suggest it. Who should this recommendation come from so that people take it seriously?   
 
It often seems like a bit of an ego clash. Because what I'm implying, in essence is that the producer and director need to put people in charge of them.  To sort of "save them from themselves".  Which is the truth but not something anyone wants to admit to.  So how to delicately suggest it and remove that subtext altogether?

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