Quick Tip: The Smart Way to Schedule Your Indie Film

Quick Tip: The Smart Way to Schedule Your Indie Film

Quick Tips are bite-sized articles meant to give you simple, actionable ideas that you can apply to your filmmaking right away.

As I continue to work my way through The Cheerful Subversive's Guide to Independent Filmmaking, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite books on micro-budget filmmaking, I found another tip I thought would share with you guys.

And it's this: when scheduling your film, plan your most essential shots for the beginning of the day.

Things inevitably take longer than you expect they will on indie film sets. Oftentimes, this leads to a frantic rush at the end of the day to get all of the necessary shots to make the film actually work in the edit.

So the quick work-around for this headache is to schedule all of your most essential shots for the first part of the day. Get 'em done early and spend the rest of the day focusing on building up your coverage and grabbing details.

But how do you tell what's important enough to shoot first?

Well, that's up to you, but it should be relatively easy. If you did your job in pre-production, chances are you've basically watched your film in your head. During any given scene, which shots are the ones that make up the bulk of the scene? Usually there are a handful of shots that are used most, and those are the ones to focus on.

For example, if you're shooting a basic dialogue scene, you'd want to schedule your OTS (Over The Shoulder) Medium Shots first, followed by your Medium Close Ups and your Master.

Then, towards the end of the day, you'd pick up your inserts, exteriors, reaction shots, cutaways, and the other little bits and pieces that will make the story shine. Plus, you could build up additional coverage of the scene to give the editor even more options.

But no matter what you do with the latter part of the day, you'll be able to rest easier knowing that no matter what happens, you have the basic building blocks of your scene.

Of course, you won't always be able to do things exactly this way. Maybe you only have a key actor or location during the second half of the day. But even then, prioritize wisely and capture your most essential shots quickly. 

If you enjoyed this article, you'll love the Filmmaker Freedom newsletter. Each week, we share our latest posts, a weekly filmmaking resource, curated stories from around the web, a short film that we love, and a healthy dose of filmmaking inspiration.

Are you ready to take your filmmaking to the next level?