Tag: animals

3 Hidden Costs in the Production Budget

Easter brings to mind hidden eggs… hidden eggs brings to mind hidden savings & costs in a production budget. The hidden savings are great, but the costs? Well, not so welcome. Here are three situations that typically generate hidden costs that you can watch out for:

1. Tethers In The Shot
Working with animals is challenging and tethers are often used as a training aid. Seeing tethers in the finished shot, however, is not what you have in mind, so you’ll have to CGI them out if you see any. Do you want to spend your CGI budget removing tethers or creating fancy effects shots? Balance the cost of shooting a few minutes faster on-the-day vs the extra (hidden) cost of tether removal during post.

2. Weather Dependence
If you need a certain exterior weather, you need to plan extra time (read “extra money”) to wait for it. Yes, that means the cast & crew waiting for the clouds to arrive, or waiting for the clouds to leave. Can anything move inside (and stay true the story)?

3. Distant Locations
The location may be the perfect for the story, but it’s miles away from the “free travel zone” for cast & crew and you need to be there for multiple weeks. You find that the crew you really wanted to use prefers not to be away from home for that long a time, so you choose your B-choice crew… who happen to shoot slower and don’t have the same sensibility as you do about the film. You also find that equipment and supplies are harder to source at the distant location – so, again, you need more time (and again more money) to make it all happen. Perhaps shooting at that inside location in-town would work and instead use a reduced unit at the distant location for the few critical exterior shots in order to bring the two locations together? Hmmm…

When you think about potential hidden costs, you can often find potential hidden savings. And hidden production savings is the greatest easter egg there is!

Cheers, Happy Easter & a great shoot to you,

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PM101 in TODo you know about Deb’s appearance in Toronto and the “Toronto Area PM101 Facebook Challenge (for a free book)“? To learn more, click here: http://on.fb.me/hEdmNg

Shooting With the Year of the Rabbit

This Chinese new year reminds me of a film shoot I was on where we were filming rabbits. And trying to capture animals acting on set is always entertaining… no matter what happens.

The script called for the heroes (people) to liberate the many rabbits from their cages in the lab and for the rabbits to run, hop and skedaddle down the hallway and out of the building. It would be even better if they looked a little panicked as they made their escape to freedom, but hopping quickly would be sufficient. Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? Dozens of rabbits running in one direction on cue. Uh-huh.

So we brought in a ferret to chase the rabbits. Everyone knows that rabbits and ferrets are natural enemies. I mean ferrets were raised to chase rabbits out of rabbit holes. What could go wrong?

On the day, what we didn’t foresee was… that both the rabbits and the ferret were raised in captivity. We may have known they were natural enemies of each other, but they didn’t. On set they merely padded up to each other nose-to-nose and sniffed a gentle “hello.” There was mild interest to indifference between them. Now what do we do?

In the end, we had someone just off-screen and around the hallway corridor push the rabbits around the corner into the hallway and into shot. Yes, if you really looked, you could see some of the rabbits sliding along the floor while a few others hopped around them like they were on a pleasant afternoon stroll.

The Year of the Rabbit is supposed to be more calm after the ferocious Year of the Tiger… and I know what they mean by calm rabbits, so I don’t doubt it!

Cheers & Gung Hay Fat Choy!

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!