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1st Assistant Director / Scheduling Question

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  • 1st Assistant Director / Scheduling Question

    Hi guys, I'm new here but I'm in need of some advice.

    I'm 1st AD on a short film an have done a stipboard in Movie Magic Scheduling but I was wondering if I need to make a schedule of ever setup or shot that day?

    I've received a shot list from the Director of Photography but it seem like scheduling every shot might be a waste of time and I can't find any sites that tell you to do this nor do any of the books I've read tell you to do this, is it necessary?

    If it is though how would I go about doing this?


  • #2
    Yes you should schedule every shot. One this tells you how long the day will be. Also if you have actors or actresses that can only film on certain days you can schedule all of this shots that day. And it helps crew and cast to know what shot they are suppose to be working on, what is coming up and what has already been shot.


    • #3
      If this is indeed your 1st AD shoot, please allow me to tell you how much I respect the hell out of your guts for just brazenly diving head first into the deep-end of a nuclear waste filled swimming pool without so much as a face mask or a cork up your butt. You must have solid brass balls. I would never attempt it, nor would I want the position. But you did, so welcome to the suck.

      As Jsthompson pointed out, not only is it necessary to schedule all your shots, it's absolutely vital that you do so or you will look like an amateur, and the DP, as well as the entire cast, will be looking at you like you're the proverbial, retarded, red headed step child. The producer will also be breathing down your neck not to blow the budget. But hey, No pressure :)~

      So here's how you do it.

      First thing you want to know is the script inside and out. You will want to compartmentalize it according to your actors schedules. What dates they can shoot on. So you will need a script Break Down Sheet. Here's one.

      Schedule the scenes for the actors that have a limited schedule. This may not coincide with your start date, but don't worry about that. You will also need to take into consideration the complexity of each shot. This is where you will work closely with the DP.

      You will also need to take into account your budget. Here's an example:
      Let's say your most expensive shots takes place in a Mansion. Therefore, any and all scenes that take place in the Mansion must coincide with the actors who play their parts at that set. Now you can start to worry :/

      Almost all films are shot out of sequence. So compartmentalize shots by location. Be sure to coordinate with your props person, make-up, and wardrobe crew.

      Don't be afraid to consult and talk to your DP. The DP, as well as the Director will be the two people you'll work the closet with.

      Be prepared to work your ass off. You will be the one to put in the most hours. Be prepared for on-set rewrites. IT WILL HAPPEN! But don't let it panic you. Just roll with the punches.

      Be prepared at the end of the day when everybody is off partying and having a good time, you'll be back in your hotel room sweating over the shot list till 3 o'clock in the morning.

      A WORD OF CAUTION: Try at all costs to avoid becoming a 1st AD tyrant. A 1st AD actually holds a lot of power, and it will be easy for you (and tempting) to scream at other crew members for screwing up. I worked on a shoot once where, by the time we called final wrap, without exception, the entire crew hated the 1st AD guts. They all vowed never to work with him again. However, without him working his ass off we would have never stayed on schedule. You will need to take charge, but do it diplomatically.

      Also, in most cases, going by a signal or a cue from the Director, you'll be the one to call "Action" and "Cut" for each scene.
      You'll begin by calling "Camera" in which the DP will call back "Rolling". Next you'll call for "Sound", in which case your sound man will call back "Speeding". Then you'll look for a nod from the Director and you will call "Action". When the scene is played out, look at the Director for his cue to call "Cut".

      Niceties: When an actor has played all their parts, and is exiting the set for good, have the cast and crew gather round the actor for applauds and well-wishing. This is usually handled by the Producer, but I have seen the 1st Ad handle the task.

      You didn't mention when your shot date was scheduled. So if it's next week! I would be sweating bullets.

      Good Luck!

      FMF members. If I left out something, please add to it.