Production? And creative? This is probably the first time you will be hearing these two terms together. But it’s true. Even though the work of a line producer looks plain logistical, there is a lot of improvisation involved.
“Once on a shoot in Ziro Valley (Arunachal Pradesh), the crew needed a blower for inflating balloons. Since it was a pretty remote area, there was no balloon blower available. Then I asked around a bit. Our hotel manager told me that the carpenters working there used a blower to clear off wooden filings. So we used that blower instead & it fit the crew’s needs perfectly!”
– Pranjit Kalita,Line producer
If you’ve worked as a producer, you know the feeling of thinking on your feet all day and applying ‘jugaad’ to overcome shooting obstacles.
So to make your job easier and smarter, we’ve got some creative production techniques that will make your life easier on set.
1) Explore Airbnb & other websites to source locations
A project doesn’t always require officially listed film locations. You can always find cheap, well-furnished shoot locations through online portals like Airbnb, OYO, or Novotel. This way one can get a variety of locations – from bungalows to single rooms – at cheaper rates, with detailed pictures online. But be sure to notify the owner/manager of your intent to film. It is necessary to get written permission before you start filming.
2) Familiarize yourself with online talent hubs
On shoot days, there’s always a possibility of the crew not showing up. Maybe they had a dentist appointment OR a shark ate their call-sheet. The point is, as a line producer, you have to prepare for this eventuality. A good practice is to have a profile on online talent hubs, like Filmboard, where you can look up a replacement online, view their work & pricing, and contact them.
3) Shooting far from home? Get the locals involved
While shooting in some other city, explore local theatre groups & colleges to source actors. Sound recordists, camera operators, and other subordinate roles can also be region-specific. This approach is great for reducing the size of the core crew & saving on travel costs. Plus, the locals are well-versed with the area. Their experience can prove more useful in more ways than one.
“There have been times when we have found local interesting people or child artists on the day of the shoot. Maybe they can’t be used on that particular day, but it’s always helpful to make note of such locals. You never know. They could be handy in livening up some other scene.”
– James Khangenbam, Line producer
4) Send digital versions of the call sheet
Talent and crew are always on the go. And in all this commotion, it’s easy to misplace the call sheet. Good thing you don’t have to worry about that anymore. Nowadays, everyone carries a smartphone. You can just send them a PDF of the call sheet. For the more tech-savvy line producer, online call-sheet builders like Studio Binder are a quick way to create & share detailed call sheets to the crew.
5) Stay two steps ahead of time
A film set is governed by Murphy’s law – Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. A good line producer lives by this rule, and always gets various departments working in advance to offset any future delays. Another strategy is to familiarize yourself with all available creative materials – like stock footage, existing images, etc.
“Once, a client had rejected an ad we had shot, 24 hours before the deadline. So we had to deliver something quickly within that time. Fortunately, one of our crew members went through the client’s creative assets & found a nice background. We combined it with some nice animations, recycled the footage we already had & delivered the ad. The client was very happy with it.”
– Karthik Lalit, Production manager
To save time, a line producer can also push the departments to start preparing for the next scene, while the current shot is going on. Many experienced producers also advise beginners to play-out budget scenarios in their heads. This is useful for anticipating unexpected expenses & preparing a ready strategy to deal with them.
As is evident from these tips, production is one of the crucial elements of filmmaking. No film can possibly wrap up shooting without a creative & innovative line producer micromanaging everything. At Filmboard, we realize the hard work that goes into production.
Our online portal at Filmboard has been created to help producers perform their roles efficiently & as creatively as possible. We believe, with technology & creativity, Indian film production can become truly world-class.