Scheduling a Feature Film

Time to breakdown

So what happens when the script is in good enough shape to move forward?

It’s at draft four and there are still many changes yet to make to improve it, but we’re at a comfortable stage where all the major building blocks are in place. The characters won’t change, the settings won’t change, the major props and costumes, make-up and ideas for big shots won’t change. So… it’s time to get the ball rolling.

This past week I’ve contacted a lot of people about helping. Actually, the amazing thing about putting the test¬†online meant that people saw it. A few really talented people who I met throughout my time on The Hobbit contacted me and offered their help FOR FREE. This is no small deal and I’m gonna take up each and every one of them.

Also, in the time passed since my last post, me and my team went to Auckland to attend the NZ Film Awards. Abby won a table of ten thanks for her Best Actress win for Dick Off in this year’s 48hour Film Comp. While there, I met a couple of huge Kiwi heroes of mine, including Neil Finn of Crowded House (we share small-town hometown Te Awamutu) and Gerard Johnstone, director of fantastic NZ horror comedy Housebound.

NZ Film Awards Auckland
L to R: Courtney Abbot, Elle Bryant, Andy Campion, Abby Damen, HJW, Jamie Lawrence, Simeon Duncombe, Sophie Wilson

A big win to come out of that night was the fact I ran into Cohen Holloway, a mightily talented and accomplished NZ actor. I’d emailed him the script hoping he’d play one of the very important characters and had received no reply. However, in the flesh, Cohen said he’d love to jump aboard. So I’m gonna hold him to that. Plus, it’s in type on the internet now, Cohen, so it’s really real.

I’ve also met with Producer Kelly Kilgour many times to discuss script, shooting logistics, locations, casting, funding, and business plans for the future. Currently, the business plan is to get the film in the can so I can start editing!

The next step in pre production is


Scheduling feature film
Look at it all! Gorgeous and satisfying

That’s my scheduling software. Pages. That’s right, the free application that comes on MacBook Pros. It works a treat because all you need is a table.

As you can see, each row is a bit of information about a scene that I will shoot. The way I’ve set it out as simple:

Scene # | Interior/Exterior | Time of Day | Setting | Location (so many missing!) | Characters | Description | Page Count

I’m gonna fill out all the info about every scene in the film, then cut them out, rearrange, and I’ll have a really good idea how long each actor and location is needed. What I don’t have in this is the props or specialist costume and make-up needs. I’ve reasoned that because the film is so small and I haven’t written in many specialist props of make-up needs, I’m listing them in the description cell.

Once I’ve cut them out and rearranged them all, I’m going to blu tack them to my bedroom wall and start organising them into Shoot Days. That way, I can see exactly what I need to shoot on every Shoot Day. I’ll meet with Director of Photography Simeon Duncombe and together we’ll ascertain how long we need to shoot each scene based on the page count and plan accordingly.

Boom. Scheduling. Piece of cake. It’s weirdly therapeutic and relaxing actually, and it’s illuminated a couple of pacing issues I wouldn’t have found until the edit, such as “Ooh, there’s too many long scenes at once, we need some short montage shots or something,” and “Ooh, this character disappears for three scenes but TWENTY pages, that’s too long.”

Oh, and here’s a picture of Cohen. As well as being super talented and intelligent, he’s hilarious, sexy and easygoing.

This is Cohen Holloway, gorgeous kiwi actor, on the Sundance festival red carpet in 2011
This is Cohen Holloway, gorgeous kiwi actor, on the Sundance festival red carpet in 2011