Film Production: How to Organize a Shoot | Phillip Wong | Skillshare

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Film Production: How to Organize a Shoot

teacher avatar Phillip Wong, Producing

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      We're Not In Kansas Anymore


    • 2.

      You Try . . .


    • 3.

      Logistics - Begin At The Beginning


    • 4.

      Locations - Not Just A Pretty Place


    • 5.

      Lighting - In A Bottle??


    • 6.

      Crew Management - How To Herd Cats . . .


    • 7.

      How Are Your Projects Doing?


    • 8.

      The Next Step . . .


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About This Class

The Art of Production is based on conceptualization, prioritizing, scale and process. It is about making dreams come true and bringing them to fruition. It is about seeing a chasm and building a bridge across that chasm. Having worked across countless media formats I use all of our collective learning and experience to scale projects from small to large in similar ways. I hope to show you how it can be done. This class is created to imagine, think and then do.


Meet Your Teacher

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Phillip Wong



Producing is simple. It's about getting things done.

There is so much in the world that needs doing, in so many directions and so many options and so many interests. The question is: How to start and how fast to finish. And then: How to do it well.

Perfection is great, but we have to realize that we will never get there. We can count grains of sand but what is the point? But doing it faster and more efficiently, allows us to attempt more projects, succeed with more projects and leave the world a better place.

I recently started film production utilizing techniques and tools I had gained from photography, editorial and live event production. I'd like to share some of those thoughts with you here on Skillshare.

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1. We're Not In Kansas Anymore: Hello and thank you for joining us today. My name is Philip Wong and I have worked on thousands of productions, film, live events, photography, publishing, rowing boats across the Mississippi River. All sorts of things. This is the production of film. I mentioned that the other productions because each production has a different type of formats and techniques, but they're overlap, and this energy has given me a lot of opportunities to compare. Um, I'm going to show you four areas of film what we need to effectively produce a film, and these aren't the only four areas. Of course, there are so many other areas, and film is a huge topic. But I'm using these four areas because I'm going to talk about logistics, locations, lighting and crew management. These four areas were picked because they are very, very different. They used different types of resource is they have a lot of different types of obstacles and challenges. But I think that we can all overcome them together, and hopefully with these techniques, you will be able to make your own film and your own dreams a reality. So I think that you should enroll. We should roll and we should get to work 2. You Try . . . : okay for? For our class project. I want you to get a script or an idea that you have, and I'm sure that you have an idea. So don't say that you don't, um we're going to deal with these four areas, which is logistics, locations, lighting and crew management. Since logistics is partly the planning, that's what we will begin with. And we start doing these lists off our locations and our look of our film. That's the visual look with lighting and everything like that. And then we'll do something with We need to know who is going to help us make this film in each one of these areas. You need to be realistic. You need We're not going to Mars. We're not going to Iceland. So make sure that your locations is make some sense. Make sure that your lighting makes some sense because we're not going to like the entire world and make sure that the people who are working with you you can deal with, um um, there's you don't overbook and you don't under book and that's it. Let's get started 3. Logistics - Begin At The Beginning: Okay, let's start with logistics. Logistics Sounds like something UPS or FedEx would do. They move things from one place to another. Logistics is basically, it's the coordination of people, and resource is so for us. I chose to use the word logistics as opposed to pre production, which a lot of film uses, because it is the crossing over off the paperwork to the reality. And each of us has dreams. Each of us has ideas that we want to bring to life, but bringing them to life is crossing into the area of reality. And that's what I want you to do today. We're looking for, um, you to be riel. We're looking for you to do starting a project that you can finish starting a project that's doable, starting a project that is a little bit ambitious. But you know that you can do it. It will not be easy, but you know that you can accomplish it. Um, this isn't a way to dampen your dreams, but it's a way to make your dreams become a reality. Find techniques to be able to get to that point. When we deal with logistics, we have to deal with the physical elements off. What do we need for camera? What do we need for lighting? What do we need for sound? How do we get those pieces that we need organized and together and then get them to a single place at a single time so that we can actually create our story? Or each of these people are important because they start early in a film with figuring out what do they need? What can make this film better? What is Thies this idea that they're working on? And they bring that together with the logistics, the producer and sometimes the director, and sort out what they can afford, where they confined things, whether they have, um ah, a light in somebody's basement whether they have a camera that their cousin isn't using right now, whether they need to rent lenses, whether they need to have somebody pick up the lenses, whether they need to have somebody pick up any lighting that they have on all of these things, extend into the logistics and into the production area. Um, if we don't pay attention to that, somebody has to probably at the wrong time, probably during the middle of a production. You think about who's going to get this? Do we need batteries? Do we have electricity to charge our batteries? Um, all kinds of things like that. So the area of logistics is very important. Tohave lists part of the logistics is the planning and how we deal with our schedules, how we deal with the schedules of getting. For instance, if we were doing a scripted film and we have crew, we have a cast who needs hair and makeup? Um, we're going to spend get all of the times together with the same people doing hair and makeup at the same time. You have to think about what kind of crew people you need for that period of time and how you're going to deal with that. Um, you would need. First of all, you need tohave. The cast that has their hair done a certain way needs to keep their hair done that same way for continuity. So you should have the same people, or you should have styles that everybody can do. I want you to stay realistic, and I want you to stay focused on a doable project, something that can be manageable with what you have and how you have to do it. The timeline in which you have to do it, Um, and all of these kind of things. One other cautionary thing about logistics Don't broken actor who cannot finish the film because it will create lots and lots and lots of problems for you there. So, uh, all of these kind of things is are things that we have to think about when we're producing films and as we are trying to make our film, bring it to a completion and we'll move on to the next one. 4. Locations - Not Just A Pretty Place: this area that we deal with is going to be with locations. Locations are a place to shoot. I call locations either the the actual location or a stage or studio. But in either case, we have toe have certain elements that we know for sure we can have when we go on location when we scout locations. I like to try to get a floor plan or a, um, map of the area so that we have an idea. But we're going to collect photographs. When we go physically on location, we're gonna collect photographs or videos and then we're going to get specifications. I'm going to talk about the specifications, and we're going to show you as we go through different types of things that we're shooting for what we're looking for in our photos and what we look for in our video. Over here I have a power point in which I'm going to show most directors and producers will go to a location and they will photograph what looks nice, what can look the visual elements of a location, but everybody technical. Everybody back of the scenes needs to know a lot more about a location other than just how great it looks. I generally have a rule of thumb in which a location is is twice as large as you're shooting space. Minimum. You need that for storage of equipment. You need that for holding for your cast. You need that for hair. You need that For makeup. You need to have the power for lighting. You need tohave power and a place to set up for your video village or for your, um, charging of batteries. Charging evolved kind of data transfer. You have to figure that out. You need to know you're loading capacities. You need to know Ah, whether you could use the space for how much time? What's your available time? When can you move in? Start setting up. When do you have to leave? So all of these areas are areas that we will touch on with the the locations. I did a film which was on location and some of the photography for it was with beautiful old house from the 18 early 18 hundreds. And the photographs show what is there on the outside. It looks beautiful, and you can imagine what you're going to shoot there. But The problem is, it doesn't say anything about place. Right next to the house was a highway, cars, trucks, everything going by the entire time we're shooting with natural light. We had vehicles going by, so all of our audio problems were just continuous throughout the entire shoot. If you look here at some of the photographs that I've gotten for you, about a police precinct that we did a scout for their pictures of lockers and their pictures of flags and the police precincts that show how the room feels, it doesn't really feel the way we would probably light it because it's all fluorescent lights overhead and very office lighting type of things. But there's this picture here with a part of the NYPD Shield. A flag in the picture chair in a desk doesn't look very interesting. Along the walls are outlets, and those outlets that I photographed will tell the grips and electric people where their outlets are, how much I try to shoot the circuit board so that we know how much power we have in the building. Cameras and lighting can't work without electricity, but we need to know whether we need to bring in electricity or whether it's there. In another picture here, I shot a picture of the cell and I wanted to take a picture of not only the cell, but in another picture I shot. What does the lock look like? How big is the cell? So I have somebody's one of my associate tours with me. Stand inside the cell and you can see how big it is and it's surprisingly, doesn't have bars the same way you would think so. We have to think about those things if we can get the access and the release is to use the space one last thing about locations and about casting shooting in general. If you happen to do a great film and you don't have releases, you need tohave them. Otherwise nobody can see this. It cannot be released. And so one of things that we have to make sure of is that we cover all of our bases with everything. I want you to go out, and when you're looking at your locations, photographed them. Look how many stairs are there. Look a What kind of floor space is there? What is the ceiling height? Are there bathrooms you have to deal with your cast and crew, and you've got to be responsible for them. So that's the kind of thing that location scouts do, and that's the kind of thing that takes to make a great location. 5. Lighting - In A Bottle??: I'm going to talk about lighting right now, and, um, lighting is a integral part of film production, and it's also a huge topic with, uh, that can go on forever and ever. And it always changes. Light is all around us. We see things every day, and those the things that we see affect the way that we feel about a lot of things. So in film, the lights that we see or we don't see, actually, we just see the results of that light is how we feel about our characters or about our story or about our subject matter or about our ideas. First of all, I want to talk about the technical aspects of the rental of lighting, and that will be in a lighting order that I had done with, um, lighting and and support systems, including sandbags and electricity and the basics. And I'm showing you also lights and electrical price card some of the equipment that they rent, and this is how they rent it at different rental houses. This is ah G. Any price list for lighting and G any means grip and electric grips are the people who create the support systems for all of the lighting and the cameras. So for the camera people and for the lighting people, they are very, very important. Let me go on to what lights? Dio. I wanted to show you a series of pictures here. That girl with cigarette is actually Charlize Theron. When the camera changes, you can use the same lighting and get very different feelings with it. I'm going to show you also a light, a set up that we had for another film which was supposed to be a party. And there's a number of people around and everybody's lit. But you can see the lighting, how it's a softer lighting to to get a feel for how things are going directly under that light. That light, of course, won't be in the picture at all. On another film, you can see that this was supposed to be a fashion shoot. So you get a lot of reflect INTs and a lot of lights from all over the place to make it a very high key, um, type of feeling as you go into other kinds of lighting, which are more moody and more low key. You have sharp lighting. It becomes more dramatic, as you see in these pictures, and they focused primarily on the subject. But you always have to remember that in the background someplace. You can see other things going on. And you know, for instance, with this picture of Lance Henriksen talking to somebody, you can see a camera in the background so darkness can mask a lot of things. But you have to be careful of what you can pick up and what you see in pictures. I think that when I took this picture, it was with a still camera with a much slower shutter speed. So the camera itself or for video, actually didn't see the anything in the background with these other portrait's of different people. You can see how the black background just dropped out, and you can see with me right here how the black background drops out. And that's what we're using here for. Also, for a little bit more dramatic effect with each of these musicians that I have here and Alvin Ailey and you see a difference between the fall off in background, the differences between foreground lighting and background lighting and each of these different things. You have to bring electrical power you have to bring. You have to know how much lighting you need to to cover both the background and your subject matter. Film lighting is unlike stills, because you are lighting a much larger space. I've been lighting for much larger spaces for most of the time that I've worked in both film and in still photography. So it's kind of transitional for me. But that is the difference between a simpler film and a much more complex films. If you go to if you go to professional sets and you, your your set will be professional because you are thinking about these things and that will make you better in terms of lighting. You're thinking about what you see and also what you don't see and how to hide the things that you don't want to see and how you like the things that you need to see in this picture of ah, trombone player. I lit the foreground because he's Puerto Rican and there's a lot of aspects of his cultural background, which he wanted to highlight, which was in this case, it was a mask, so it was in the foreground, but I didn't want people to see so much of the mask. I wanted them to feel it and then see him. Last picture that you'll see here is ab Judah, and he is a boxer. So we did this in a boxing ring, Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn. He is obviously the main focus, but there's a feeling of some of the things that go on in a gym in back of him, and you don't want to highlight that with film. The way that camera picks things up, you're going to see a lot of these things and feel lot of the things that you don't actually see. I try to tell people that people don't actually see anything. They don't see pictures, they don't see films, they feel them, and that's what lighting does is it gets people to feel the things that you need them to feel that you want them to feel 6. Crew Management - How To Herd Cats . . . : management of the crew is very similar to the rest of the world and very in many ways, is different. The people that you work with are people that you depend on. And as I said before and I will say this again, your goal is to finish your film, so you need the people you need. Your resource is, and you need your people. To do with this management of your crew is is interesting, sometimes is challenging at the same time is both rewarding and frustrating when you manage a crew. Some of the things that you should keep in mind are the same things that you have to keep in mind for the rest of your life. For everything that you do all your relationships with your friends, with your people. You meet in the street with the people you work at, work within other jobs or other jobs that you've had before. Some of the things that I constantly emphasising is that before you make a decision or say something, think just I think, and that will save you a lot of headaches. Think about it. Be considerate toe other people be considerate of their time be aware of what other people are doing and what you are doing and be responsible. It's hard for me to say, Ah, this is you know, we should all be good people on this is a Kumbaya moment. Um, but in fact, it is, Uh, it's your film, so maybe it should be a combined moment. When you manage a film crew, you're managing people who are creative. They could be underpaid, They could be underappreciated, but they're talented, and you're also working with people who are freelance, and they have a choice of whom they can work with you or somebody else. So the project that you work on, that you're offering these people, they should care about it. They should see a reason for being participant in this. Why do they want to do this? Making a film is very interesting. It is about communications. So when you make your film, you are communicating with your audience. You have to understand what your audience wants to see. And at the same time, you have to understand what your crew wants to do, what they want to do with your film and what they want to do with their lives, So it may be in huge, huge thing in a May. Change your life to work this way. In film you have your integrity and you have your reputation. You probably have that in other areas of your work, too. But it's important because you, the people that you work with have got toe Want to work with you in the future, they've got toe like you. They've got to understand why you want to do things and they've got to want to be a participant in that. So how you treat things as simple as feeding them craft ease. Some of the documents that I'm going to show you are important because it communicates with them what you expect of them, what you want when you want them to show up. Um, all sorts of things like that. So let's go. Just first of all, let me show you some of these these things, and then I'm going to talk about a little bit about something simple, like food. The first sheet I'm showing you is a production company call sheet. It goes out to all of the cast, all of the crew, it tells them where they need to be when they need to be there. It tells them the scene that is going to be shot. The cast that's involved with that scene, location of the scene. It gives a lot of information like that, and it tells at the bottom of this sheet. As we scroll down, it tells about who the camera person is. The grip electrics, sound, make up hair wardrobe. What the location is when that location that's mentioned is probably the first location if you're going to change locations because you will change all of them together at the bottom , it gives a little bit of events schedule, which everybody knows can change at any time. I know that we're not all doing a huge, huge production. So while these papers are really important and you should get used to them, we don't all have to use exactly the same things. Simplify it if you can for your production. If your production only has a few people, just keep it down to those same people. Is the names, the positions, what they're expected to dio on our crew data sheet. We also have their Social Security number, federal I D number again consideration. You don't want this information to go out to everybody, so it needs to be kept under security, secure circumstances you're going. This kind of paper tells when they start when they end, when they wrap, whether they do any over time, whether they're they don't do any overtime, I'll show you one other thing, which was something that I had put together. It's what I call the cast and crew contact sheet. It tells me on productions which characters these people are, what their real name is, what their phone numbers are and what their email addresses. You have to be able to reach people, all of them crew and cast all the time. As soon as your film starts, you need them. So be aware of that. And it's not about being nice for the sake of being nice, although that would be great. But it's also about whether you can complete your film. I mentioned that I would talk about a little bit about food. Many people in production think that feeding there crew or feeding their cast is generosity from them to their crew members. But the fact is that you don't want once they come onto your set or once they come on to your location, you don't want them to leave. You don't want them to go away looking for food, having to find drinks, having to find a bathroom, having to find anything. That's why production provides it for them. There is a very clear, obvious reason for that. You need them there. You need everybody toe work on time on your schedule. The crew management is an over encompassing thing that goes back and for your class here, I want you to write down the number of people that you have, what positions they're going to do, what jobs they're going to dio write down how what their numbers are, what their phone numbers are, what their email addresses and then be able to tell yourself how to schedule them with the most consideration so you don't waste their time when you have them. They're actually working and they're actually needed. There's a secret Most people want toe work when they come to something, whether it's a project or job, they want to do that job and they want to do it successfully. So your job producing and in logistics is to make sure that they're happy with being able to work, being able to accomplish something and then being able to go away when they see your film. They're going to be happy with having done that and they're going to come back later. They're gonna want to work with you. They're gonna recommend other people to work with you, and that's how your films will grow. That's how your circle upload your lists of things, upload the people that you were working with. Let's go over and see whether we're overbooking people or under booking people, whether we're asking for too many people or not enough. 7. How Are Your Projects Doing?: So we've gone over a number of different topics here, from logistics to location to lighting and crew management. These air just four areas that we picked for film production in these areas. I want you in this class to start to send back you. I think that you've been sending back some things, but I want to reiterate for the logistics. You've done a lot of the planning and you have an idea of what you're going to do and how you're going to get people in. Get your resource is in. Get your people in with the location scouting. Here's how I can tie this into ah ah project for you. And I can help you take some pictures of a location that you're thinking about for the story. Let me know what your story is, what that location is used for. Um, when you upload and you take the pictures, I'm going to ask you. And you should ask yourself before I ask you, why did you take that picture? What does it say for you? What? What was the purpose? Some of them you will do as the emotional content with the visual aspects of your film. But there are other things that are going to be like, What is electricity? Where's electricity coming from? How much space do we have for storage? Remember that you've got a store, your lighting equipment. You've got a story or camera camera equipment. Um, not the cameras that you're using, but the boxes. Where you going to charge your batteries. Where are you going To be able to access things. If you're working with a cast and crew, where you going to set up a table so that you can have food for them and water for them so that they don't expire on premise. Um, you need to take these pictures, try to keep it as minimal as possible so that you get the most information in each picture and uploaded with your thoughts. Because I want to hear what you're thinking and why you're why you decided to use the location and take that picture. Also, I want you to, um, when you were doing lighting, develop a mood board, an idea about why What are you looking for with each scene or each character? And don't go overboard with it. Everything should be a little bit subtle. Um, but it should also be there. So you will have if you're going to do something scary. Is your lighting going to be darker and more angular and maybe under the face? And you know all of those kind of things. And is that campy? Is it too much? Um, on the other hand, where you going To get your lights. Where you going To get your power to drive lights. Who are you going to get to carry? Help you carry all this equipment? If you did something like that, would you go into the woods? If you go into the woods, you need Are you going to carry everything by yourself? So you need to think about your crew and your your equipment and how you're going to get things there. How you're going to charge things, all of these kind of things in your lighting in your lighting area. Send me that. That information about what you were planning on doing and some of the things that you were thinking about Lastly, your crew management, How many people are you going toe have on your crew? The consideration, the awareness and your responsibility. But remember also, in terms of dealing with people, all people, communications is important. You need to be simple, direct and treat everyone relatively equally. Give people some expectations of how much time you're gonna use with them. How long your shoot is going to go, what you expect them to do and and and figure out for yourself what you're gonna ask off them. Uh, there should also be some element of consistency. And I know that film productions get kind of crazy, but at the same time, you have to control everything because that's your job. So the consistency there is really important. Thanks so much, and we will see you on the other side. 8. The Next Step . . . : thank you for taking this journey with us through some aspects of film production, and I know that it didn't cover everything that you might want to know about that you might be curious about. But I hope that what I wanted to do was make sure that you have techniques, techniques of working with people, techniques of getting equipment and working with equipment, techniques of managing what your priorities are and how you go about looking each one of these different areas. So come back to us, and I will read everything that you have to see your answers and see what you've done in your projects. Film is an interesting thing. It's a lot of the businesses that we get into. We are not alone. But sometimes when we start a project like this, we feel like we are a Niland by ourselves, and we shouldn't feel this way. There are a lot of people want us to succeed and they want to be part of it. Those are the people that you need to work with, and those are the people you need to have around you are you can't get discouraged and you can't let people around you be discouraged more than anything else, if you need more help and you have ideas about what you'd like to see, like, script breakdown or like, uh, how do you deal with the cast Maurin lighting? I mean, lighting was just We just touched on it. Uh, but all of these different things let me know, and I'll see what Aiken do and build a class. Were you in the future? I want you to succeed and so that we're going to go on, do everything together. Thanks so much and welcome to our world.