Q: Now that you have brought on Skye Rentals as a sponsor, you talk about base camp a lot. What is it and why is it so important?
Now that you have brought on Skye Rentals as a sponsor, you talk about base camp a lot. What is it and why is it so important?
Brandie D. St. Louis, MO
I’m glad you asked this question Brandie because I feel like it might be one of those questions that a lot of people don’t know the answer to, but are too afraid to ask. I didn’t know what base camp was until I had done a couple of films early on in my career as an actor.
Base camp is the location or area set up where everyone gathers away from the actual set. It’s like the conference room in an office building if you will. It is the area where you set up your craft service table, have your walkie station, have some tables set up for people to take a seat for a minute, it might be where you hold extras, etc. The reason for base camp is so that you have a place for people to gather when they are not needed on set. If you are shooting at a convenience store for example, you probably wouldn’t have enough room for all of this to be staged inside the building (unless there is an entirely different room) because you will be seeing everything in the shot. So, you would probably set up base camp in the parking area.
Sometimes, base camp is a drive away from where the actual filming is taking place. An example of this would be if you are shooting on a large ranch and power for base camp is near the house on the ranch but your actually filming the scenes off in the woods somewhere, you would set up base camp near the house and drive people to the location where shooting is occurring.
The reason base camp is so important is that this is the area the cast and crew come to eat, check in for the day and get their assignments, have the daily meeting, ask any questions of production they might have, grab their walkies, etc. If you are filming on the side of a road or off in the woods or at a location too small for the entire crew to fit, then you need this area as a gathering place. It is important to have it to keep order and let everyone know what’s going on.
That is what we are talking about when we talk about Skye Rentals. I love these guys because they provide everything you would need to have a successful base camp. I know it sounds silly, but having a table and chairs and some tents or heat lamps makes all the difference in the world to how professional your shoot looks and feels. It may not seem important, but if your crew knows you took enough time to set up a base camp that has at least the basics, they are going to understand that you take your job seriously and they will treat the production a little more professionally and that will show up on screen.
For our last episode of our season about production we bring back the lovely and talented producer and author Eve Light Honthaner. Eve has worked in numerous production offices in the span of multiple years that she’s worked in this industry. We discuss the end of principal photography and transitioning into post-production.
Eve Light Honthaner- Producer/Author/Teacher
Eve’s career in the entertainment industry spans many years, primarily in the field of production management. She’s worked in every capacity from PA to line producer and as a staff production executive, most recently for DreamWorks. She’s worked on shows budgeted anywhere from $1 – $250 million and on projects that have been shot throughout the U.S. and internationally, including Titanic, Just Married and Tropic Thunder.
Eve is the author of The Complete Film Production Handbook and HOLLYWOOD DRIVE: What it Takes to Break in, Hang in & Make it in the Entertainment Industry. And since 1998, she’s combined her many years of practical experience with a love of teaching to help others succeed in this fiercely competitive business.
In addition to the six-week course she teaches at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts each summer, schedule permitting, she does one- and two-day workshops throughout the country.
Eve’s Website- http://evehonthaner.com
Film Method Hosts
For more information about the Film Method hosts, please visit the About page.
Q: What is your dream job for producing?
Deloris H., Buena Vista Florida
Wow, it’s so nice of you to ask. Honestly, my dream project tends to change from time to time. I will say this, though, my dream project regardless of the content or the medium would be to have a cast and crew that are excited about the project. To have a filmmaker that is honest and realistic about what the project is (i.e., they know that it’s not going to win an academy award if it’s a slasher film…which I don’t want to do anyway). To have a group of people that love what they do, realize it’s not brain surgery, and are having fun. To have a crew that really likes each other, respects each other and knows what each other’s job is. I just like to make people smile, whether it’s through the process of actually making the film/TV show or by making a comedy that makes people laugh while watching it.
Thanks so much for asking, I really appreciate it.
Eve Light Honthaner has written the ultimate film production handbook and she’s giving one away to a lucky Film Method listener! To enter the contest simply create either a one-minute video or a 500 word essay about an experience you’ve had on a film set and what you learned from that experience. For the video, you can re-create your experience or simply tell us the story! Send your video or essay to email@example.com. We will be accepting entries through Friday, September 30th. Enter today to win!
Q: How do you interview an AD? How do you know he/she is worth the chance as so much is riding on his/her capability to handle chaos and remain calm?
Jake H. Wahoo Nebraska
It’s interesting because I just did a consultation with one of my students at NYFA the other day about how to choose the right DP for their shoot. So, I am going to make this a general how to interview someone post because I feel that each role on the set is important. Yes, the AD is a super high pressure job and it may seem more important that you get the right AD than getting the right grip or PA, but the truth of the matter is, one person that does not fit within the team could equal disaster for a production.
The key is to know how the producer and director work. So much of being good at these two jobs in particular, is knowing who you are as a person. You need to know this so that you can fill in the holes and make sure to get a balanced crew. You must know what each crew members job in general is so that you can ask for a sample schedule and ask how long it takes them to do a schedule, but the most important question is…how do you like to work. If you know that you like to have a meeting right before the shoot, then after lunch, then at the end of the day and the person you’re interviewing really doesn’t find it necessary and in fact thinks it’s stupid, then they are probably not the right person for you to work with. The thing is, there is not right or wrong way to do the things it takes to make a movie (as long as you’re being ethical) so it’s not a “bad” thing for you to hire people that work the way you do. If you like to laugh and have a lot of fun on set and you are interviewing an AD or DP or anyone for that matter who is sitting across the table from you for like 20 minutes and hasn’t cracked a smile, do you think this person is a good fit for your production? They may be super qualified and really good at their job, but you are going to have to spend a lot of time with them so they may not be the right fit.
If you’re the producer and you know that your director is very internal with his process, it’s probably not a good idea to hire an AD that is an introvert. On the flip side, you know your director is very A.D.D., be honest (and respectful of the director) when you are talking to the AD and tell them what the director is like and ask them how they would handle that. Part of your job as a producer is to be able to see who will work well together and who won’t.
One particular thing to remember when interviewing an AD though, is that their job can be VERY stressful, so make sure that they have a calm demeanor and that they are respectful enough to ask the crew how long it will take to set the shot and that they trust the crew to do their job, but can get them to work efficiently. Above all, TRUST is the word you need to remember when hiring key crew members. Do you trust them to do the job well? Do they trust you to do yours? Do they trust the crew to do theirs?
It can be a tricky process. One last thing I will say on this and it’s a really hard one for new producers and that is, you may have to fire someone. It’s OK as long as it’s because the project or the crew is suffering because this person is on the project. It’s really not a personal thing or an ego thing so make sure that you remember that. One bad apple on set can poison the entire shoot so you’ve got to be able to do what it takes to make sure the process is smooth.
Q: How do you make a budget?
Carla M., Gainesville Florida
I always say, “the budget is the script for a producer”. Meaning, without a budget the producer cannot do their job effectively. Making a budget is a very creative process. It’s kind of like writing a script. When you first start to make budgets there will be a lot of research involved. You will need to make phone calls and look online for quotes and the cost of certain things in the budget. Once you’ve done a few budgets, you have less research, but there is always some research involved. Then when you get those quotes, you will need to use those numbers to fill the budget in. Like writing a script, the process of making a budget is different for everyone. You need to know the parameters: How much money can likely be raised? How many shoot days? What SAG agreement do you fall under? What level of crew can we afford? Are you making a movie with friends and neighbors? Where are you shooting? How many locations, cast members, scripts days, etc? For me, once I know these parameters and I’ve filled in the budget for the first time, I tend to need to process it. It is usually well over what I want it to be so I then go back and start dwindling it down. Sometimes, I need to leave it alone for a day and just let it sit in my head and I’ll come up with a creative solution to the budgeting issues I’m having. The thing to remember is that the budget is an ever-changing thing. For example; you will find that someone on the production team knows someone who can get something in the art department’s wish-list for free that you had budgeted at $100 but that the grip equipment you thought was going to cost you $50 is actually $150 and so you move the money for the art department into the grip department. The budget is constantly changing so remember that it’s a guide and don’t get too stuck on where you put the money initially. You must be able to see the big picture and stay within your total budget cost while being flexible within those parameters. Measure twice and cut once as they say. Make sure you’ve done enough research that you can confidently say you can make the film for the amount in the budget. There’s nothing worse than not being able to finish because of budgeting incorrectly.
Q: You talk about pre-production all the time. What is it and why is it important?
Sarah V., Richmond Virginia
Pre-Production is the time before principal photography starts. It is the time when you get to plan and prepare for the chaos of the shoot. It is, arguably, the most important part of the process because if done correctly, you can spot issues with the script, the budget, the shot list, the locations, the equipment, transportation and pretty much everything you will encounter on set. Now, you must know that there will always be unforeseen challenges, but there are a number of “standard” challenges that every film faces. If you do a proper pre-production, those challenges can be dealt with before everyone is sitting on set and time is ticking away. Because, on set is where time is the most expensive. Also, if you are working in the low-budget world you don’t have money to throw at problems. More likely than not, you will be asking to borrow equipment, locations, furniture, etc. and if you can allow for more planning time to get those things lined up the shoot will go much more smoothly. So, please, I implore you to do as much pre-production as you possibly can on your films without becoming obsessed with pre-production to the point of avoiding the shoot.
Q: What’s the best/cheapest school for aspiring producers?
Brian W., Des Moines Iowa
What’s the saying, beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Well, deciding what the best film school is for producers is kind of similar. It’s in the eye of the beholder. Meaning, what’s right for me and the way I learn may not be right for you and the way you learn so I am not going to give a specific school here. I recommend (and I know I say this a lot) researching. There are many different kinds of producers and many different tracks to go on. For example, if you want to be a creative producer at a studio, then I recommend a four-year university that has a lot of ties to the studio system, that really focuses on networking and creating a strong community amongst its graduates. If you are more interested in doing every facet of producing on an independent level, from the budgeting, to lifting sandbags on set, to being with the director and editor while they are working on the project then a more nuts and bolts film school is for you. Those schools tend to focus on hands on experience in every position on set, they tend to be shorter in time than a four-year university, they’re more like a trade school. Then there is always the school of hard knocks. You can go out and intern (which I call free film school) and just start making films with your friends. So, as you can see, there are many options for those who want to produce. Do your research and choose the one that is right for you. If you can’t afford the film school you think you need, remember some of the best producers around didn’t go to expensive schools, some of them didn’t go to film school at all. Frankly, if you want to be a producer, I would recommend getting a business degree so that opens up a ton of options for school right there. There is no one way to become a producer and every experience brings something different to the table when it comes to filmmaking and that’s what makes this business so special and so much fun.
Q: If you’re a writer/producer what’s the first hire you should make in terms of getting a project financed and started?
Q: If you’re a writer/producer what’s the first hire you should make in terms of getting a project financed and started?
Eric F., Scottsdale Arizona
This is a tricky question because there is not one answer. It really depends on where you’re at in your career as a filmmaker, what kind of investor you are going after, what kind of film you are making, where it is going and who your contacts in the business already are. If you are a 1st time writer/producer, I would recommend that your first hire be a producer who has done this before. I say this because there is a lot to navigate and this person will most likely be able to help guide you through the process. Do your research and know when you are hiring an honest and experienced producer. Make sure that you and that person communicate well and can work together on a daily basis. You are about to spend a lot of time with each other and it should be an enriching process. Typically when you’re a writer, you think mostly creatively (which is good) but the process of turning your script into an actual moving picture is more business than creative in the beginning. You will need someone who understands budgets and business and it doesn’t hurt if they are good at negotiating. Just a heads up – as the writer/producer of the project I would be prepared to write a lot of things you wouldn’t normally be writing like the verbiage for the business plan, website content, etc.
The role of the 2nd A.D. is an extremely important one and is very different from that of the 1st A.D. While the 1st A.D. spends all of his or her time on set, the 2nd A.D. is primarily in the production office, working with the producers to make sure that the production is running smoothly and planning the next day’s shoot. Holden Hume and Meredith Corrado join us to discuss both the 2nd A.D. and the 2nd 2nd A.D. positions in depth and explain how their jobs fit in to the grand scheme of a film production.
Holden Hume- 2nd A.D.
Holden was born in Sterling, Colorado and lived most of his life in Sidney, Nebraska. He gained a love of film at an early age, watching everything he could, which was at times difficult given the fact that the nearest movie theater was 30 miles away. When the local theater opened back up some years later, Holden began writing movie reviews for the local paper. He later went on to earn his degree in Film and Video studies at the University of Oklahoma. After graduation he moved to LA to pursue a career
in film production. He started out in LA as an intern for a small production company on the back lot of Universal Studios by day, and a night Auditor for a motel on Hollywood Blvd by night (an experience that was about as far removed from small town Nebraska as you can get). Holden’s first industry job was as a PA for 300 dollars a week on a small Horror Movie called DARK RIDE. He and went on to become a 2nd 2nd AD a 2nd AD and eventually a 1st AD for non-union productions Film and Television. He met his wife Meredith Corrado (also an AD), on a film set, and they now have a 1 year old son named Homer. They are both currently ADing, producing and writing. They live in the San Fernando Valley.
To get in touch with Holden or Meredith you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meredith Corrado- Producer, 2nd 2nd A.D.
I was born in Albany, NY, raised in Mexico, MO, and went to college at Hendrix College in Conway, AR. After college, I moved to Chicago, IL for a few years, and at some point realized I wanted to make movies. I volunteered my help at Movieside Film Festival and quickly fell into working on a documentary. Around the same time, my twin sister was graduating from special effects school and wanted to move to Los Angeles, and here we are. Finding a job in Los Angeles wasn’t easy, as I found out, you need to know someone. I went from Production Assistant to Craft Services and eventually up the Assistant Director ladder to now Producing. With my own production company, Corrado Studios, my husband and I get to work together doing what we love.
Jenna Edwards- Producer, Film Method Co-Host
For more information about Jenna Edwards please visit the About page.