Hi! I’m Kyla, teenage filmmaker & creator of the teen drama webseries To The Max. This column will serve both as a production diary and an ever-growing list of how I’ve found my way around every issue I’ve come across and every mistake I’ve made.
It’s every filmmaker’s nightmare.*
Maybe something came up in your schedule and you absolutely have to miss the one day you have a certain location, or maybe the clock is ticking a little too fast for your liking and you need to get a scene done but the only possible day is one you can’t be there for. Either way, there is no way you can be on your own set for filming.
This happened to me last week. I had picked up someone’s work shift on Friday and hadn’t scheduled filming, even though we usually film Fridays after school, because we seemed fine timing-wise. But then my SD card decided to play me and we lost four scenes. I scheduled reshoots in and realized we’d have to film a scene on that Friday so we didn’t have to shoot during exam season.
The scene we were shooting was one-half of a phone call scene. It was less than two pages, and since the “one page is a minute” thing is scientifically-proven** to be bullshit, it didn’t run very long. The other half of the phone call scene was already filmed. We had an hour and fifteen minutes to shoot it. It seemed tight, but also considering the other scenes we’ve done in an hour and fifteen minutes, it seemed totally doable.
Only here’s the thing:
At best, I am an organized-in-my-own-way control freak who churns out shot lists and storyboards left and right and lets her entire life be consumed by her projects.
At worst, I am an unprepared hot mess who forgets to share all the shot lists and storyboards she churns out as she lets her entire life be consumed by her projects.
And, because I am a straight-up disaster (as @Bri_Castellini learned when we discovered that Tim Hortons is a conspiracy***), I am very often at my worst****.
Here is the text message, copied and pasted word for word, that I sent to my friend in preparation in lieu of an annotated script or shot lists or storyboards:
“HERE ARE YOUR INSTRUCTIONS:
- whole thing through, two angles. one head on & cut off at waist, one from slightly upper diagonal angle.
- abby is wearing grey sweater & flower jeans. cuff the flower jeans if they are in shot.
- makeup: nars blush, silvery eyeshadow from claires palette, lipstick is light & shimmery in a skinny black tube. if that’s not in there, use sugar gloss.
- take a phone (black one?) from the aud and go into a corner of 117– make sure it doesn’t look like a classroom. any corner works, just ensure it is not recognizable as a classroom and could be a corner of like any room.
- CHARGE THE CAMERA BATTERY. it’s dead right now because of complications from last night. I’ll plug it in and show you how to insert it.
- spaces between lines as if Abby is listening to harmony speak”
Abby Nyamuzuwe as Sophia!
ANYWAYS, everything went well shhh it’s fine. But here’s what you should do if you can’t be on your set! Some of which I did because contrary to popular belief I am capable of some things sometimes!
If you have a small crew who do a revolving door of crew duties, make sure you assign them each specific roles. For example, I put in the notes section on our schedule that Kendall would do hair/makeup and camera operate and Maya would script supervise and do production design. I knew what they were best at and had more experience with, so I assigned them as such.
BE AS AVAILABLE AS POSSIBLE
If you can’t be there in person, you shouldn’t shut your phone entirely off unless you have to. It’s 2018, people are expected to be instantly accessible***** and if you’re the showrunner, you should at least be able to be notified if something happens. If you’re going to be unavailable past a certain time, let your crew know that.
GIVE YOUR CREW THE ESSENTIALS
I’m talking shot lists, storyboards, annotated version of the script for direction.****** If you don’t do this and you aren’t happy with what they give you, it’s your fault.
HAVE FAITH IN YOUR CAST AND CREW
If you can’t trust your cast and crew to some extent, you shouldn’t be working with them.******* They know what they’re doing. Prepare them, but don’t coddle them. They have this handled. You’re Olivia Pope passing down OPA to Quinn Perkins. You know they can do this, now let them.
JUST DON’T DO IT
Yes, this is a blatant contradiction to all the talk about trust, but even if everything is going to work out and it’s super basic, you’re going to feel sick to your stomach and totally preoccupied with how things are going. If you have the time, it’s worth it to wait.
Abby right after she heard the curtain fall down mid-scene!
And now for what you’ve all been waiting for: the footnotes.
*Maybe not their worst nightmare, but definitely up there.
**Disclaimer: not actually scientifically proven. Still definitely bullshit.
***IT DOESN’T EXIST OKAY.
****Pro tip: don’t do webseries/film projects during the school year because your grades will drop and you will cry and then you will try and get your grades up and then neglect your project when it’s most important and you will cry even more and then you will just cry forever because you like to pretend crying is good for the soul but it really isn’t when you cry enough to fill the eight glasses of water you should be drinking a day but you don’t because you’re a disaster and it’s almost exam season and oh look you’re crying again.
*****even though that’s completely awful and society expects too much of us. Just because we have the technology to talk to anyone ever in an instant doesn’t mean we have to abuse it. Someone ‘RDR’ing you shouldn’t be as heart-wrenching and backstabbing as people treat it.
******All of which I made, by the way, I just forgot to send them over in time.
ALSO: please give me article ideas! This weekly well is running dry. I don’t know what knowledge you want to glean from a teenager, but if there is any, I’m all ears!