Deborah S. Patz – Author

Author of film books for industry pros and youth

Inspiration at the Movies: Silverado

“The world is what you make of it, friend. If it doesn’t fit, you make alterations” 
   —  Stella (Silverado – 1985)

This is one of my all-time favourite inspirational movie moments. Stella reminds us that no matter what life deals us, we still have the power within ourselves to take charge of our own lives… to make our own opportunities. Powerful stuff indeed. Stella is one of the great movie optimists. I try to remember her words when life is getting tough around me. It really helps.

When the candle seems dim around you, who’s inspirational words do you hear? 


Recharging Through Travel – Belize

I’m not sure how I got the travel bug, but I have to admit that travel after completing a production is one of my best ways of recharging the ol’ batteries. Either international travel and spontaneous travel tie as my favorites.

On a 4-day shoot, a friend of my asked me on set where I was travelling to next. I told her “no way.” I mean, it was only a 4-day shoot! Then that night another friend tempted me with the travel section of the newspaper. Sigh. By next morning our flights were booked and 3 days later we were off to the jungle in Belize. A place where they turn off the generator that runs the electricity at 10pm… oil lamps in the room. Fireflies off the deck of the bar/restaurant. What a recharge trip that was! Spontaneous AND international! Oh yeah!

Hmm… where do you go?


5 Expensive Budgetary Items – I

Wow. It was hard to come up with a short list. Here are 5 of my “favourite” expensive expenses for starters…

1. Period script: Sure you know the costumes and hair are going to cost you, but as soon as you go outside, what about those cars or horses, and set dressing a time period that doesn’t exist anymore? And what about dressing all those background performers too?

2. Animals & Children – OK, I’m cheating a bit here lumping kids together with animals, but they both tire quickly and decisively. They are also similar in that when it comes right down to it, neither of them really cares about your capturing the shot (over and over again). Your takes, coverage and shooting hours will be limited. True animals don’t need tutors, but at least you can speak with children.

3. Night Shoots – The obvious cost is the extra lighting equipment, generator and operator. Not so obvious is that depending on the number of night shoots, you may not be able to hire the crew and cast you want.

4. Distant Shoots – If the distant location is a creative choice, get ready for the cost of travelling the crew, housing them, and paying them per diems… and the time lost for all that travel. If it’s an economic choice (you think it’s cheaper “out of the zone”), it’s rarely true.

5. Anything CG – Computer Graphics Imagery (CGI) is absolutely fabulous, but when the set crew knows there is a CGI team on board beware of the “oh, they can fix that in post” attitude. When CGI is digitally removing tethers and boom shadows, they are still doing effects shots… just more effects shots that the original list of flashy effects shots you thought they were going to do.

Happy budgeting!


Set Delays in a Creative Industry

The things you wait for in this hurry-up-n-wait industry…

Now it may seem “normal” on set to wait for planes to fly overhead when you’re shooting under a flight path (not really sure why you’d shoot there, but there you go)… or perhaps wait for clouds to arrive or pass, depending on the look of the sky you want to achieve. Sure write it all down on the production report as set delays. The funniest one I remember is… waiting for a beard to grow.

We were shooting IMAX 3D and you REALLY can’t fake much in the scale of IMAX, so we had to delay our shooting start date until the Performer grew his beard back for the pick up shots. We’d never be able to match his beard from the previous footage otherwise. Alas. An industry where even the delays are creative!

Cheers & smiles,

Downloadable Forms at MWP

MWP Productions (my publisher) has somewhat recently revamped the MWP website. It looks great! There are articles, musings, and other good stuff worth perusing – even a Virtual Film School. I recommend you sign up for Michael’s newsletter – good info, and no flood of email. The new catalogue is up and posted too, so you can be tempted by even more excellent books.

Of course, the new website also means the link to the downloadable forms for Surviving Production and Film Production Management 101 has changed. You could surf around and find it yourself, but let me gift you some time, here it is: http://shop.mwp.com/pages/film-making-resources


Writing Budgets from Template vs from Scratch

You’ll collect budgets you’ve written over time to use as a starting point for writing new budgets – but what happens when you’re starting out and don’t have a drawer full of old budgets? Spend the time and slog it through, or grab someone else’s template? The answer is not clearly black and white. I wrote an article for the MWP Virtual Film School looking at the factors to help you make the decision that’s right for you. Surf by and look it over:


Not to push you one way or the other, but to keep you informed… on the MWP resource page, Deke Simon provides you with some great sample budgets: