Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Tip #97: Your most valuable tool - communication

By Dan Parkes (Director/editor)

It is one of the most common complaints -not knowing what is happening. Not knowing when and where the filming will be, not knowing what is expected, not knowing how long it will take, not knowing what has happened to the film.... As filmmakers we are creating an artform that is meant to communicate a message but sometimes we perhaps inadvertently overlook the fact effectively communicating with cast and crew is an equally important priority.

Communication is your most valuable tool as filmmaker, but before using it on your audience think of these areas:

Every key date of filming should have a call sheet sent in advance of it. At least 12 hours before if possible. It should contain all the information your cast and crew need: location, times, contact information, directions etc. For more information and examples check here.

2.Contact list
From the very beginning set up a document with all key members of cast and crew listed with their mobile numbers. Don't rely just on your own phone -it can get lost, plus you can easily share this document with members of your production team as and where necessary. Print it out and have it on you at all times. Use people's mobile phones to contact them directly and keep them up-to-date with last minute changes in times and locations. Again, the contact list will help you make sure you don't forget someone when there is a sudden change in schedule.

Start an e-mail list for your cast and crew and keep them regularly updated via this method on the progress of the production. It is also an excellent way to cut down on printing costs
-you can send scripts and actors may only need to print out the portion they are involved in.

You can take the e-mail method one step further and start a weekly or monthly newsletter to keep absolutely everyone connected to the production in loop on the progress of the film. It also makes sure that no one misses out on the latest news or that you have to keep replying to individual enquiries regarding the production status.

An excellent and free on-line software that can help manage your list, as well as assist with the design and subscription, is Mail Chimp.

5. Afterwards and actor showreels
Once the production is over that should not mean you cut ties with everyone involved. We continue to send the occasional newsletter even though it is over 12 months since the release of our film. Stay in touch with everybody via e-mail or the newsletter, find out their news, tell them how the film is doing.

This also includes members of the cast who may approach you in regard to their showreels. So many productions can end up unfinished and disappear. The very least an actor deserves, especially if they were doing it on a very low budget (or free), is to see some of the footage so they can use it on the showreel. Make sure they know they have a right to the footage and that you will help facilitate this in whatever way possible. Although you may want to think about having a clause in their contract delaying this by six months if you believe it may cause creative issues to release footage before the release of the film. Very few actors would want to jeopardise the potential success of a film they were in so would understand the necessity of this.

And finally, for an example of monthly newsletter, with latest news, tips and free stuff etc check out Dan-the-Cameraman -there is an edition coming this week:

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