Okay producer! You’ve got the budget finalized, you’ve hired your production staff, casting is complete, location contracts are signed. You’ve spent months on these pre-production details, making endless changes to multiple drafts of the script, hiring the department heads, negotiating with dozens if not hundreds of different individuals, hiring some people for a pittance or no pay at all, and appealing to the creative people to stick with you for an entire month and shoot 135 pages in 24 days in and around Chicago or some other metropolis. Your independent movie is about to shoot!
And while you think you’ve got everything squared away, you’re still getting that nagging feeling in the back of your mind. You may be asking yourself what are some things you should avoid doing to help you be a better filmmaker? Here some ideas that you should stay away from:
1) When you’re working with a crowd of extras, absolutely do not speak to them as a group and make them feel as part of the production. Say virtually nothing, instead of attempting to make them feel like they are contributing to something most of them have never even done before (making a movie, being on a set, meeting C-level celebrities). Completely turn people off of the idea of making movies or doing anything with a collaboratively artistic bent.
2) Hire craft services that will consistently underestimate the amount of water needed on location, especially on hot summer days. Be sure to give them an extremely limited budget to feed the cast and crew who will be working for you for 12+ hours per day. And certainly be okay with the fact that caffeine is not provided most days.
3) If you’re the executive producer, be on set and give orders to department heads. Make certain that you give direction to people on their staff while they are in the midst of doing other things. Do not attempt to understand that you’re meddling with the flow of the production staff, especially when department heads or your assistant director confronts you about it and asks you to stop.
4) While shooting is well under way, be sure to come up with and express good ideas that can only be easily implemented if you thought of them during pre-production and not on day 15.
5) Absolutely refuse to tolerate the needs and directives of the assistant director, whose job is to run the set, keeping everybody on track and on time.
6) Alienate everyone who does not think just like you by making zero effort to understand their point of view, especially because you hired them to do their job well just to make your film.
7) Constantly end conversations, disagreements, creative differences, and arguments with phrases like, “Well, that’s your problem,” “Do a better job of keeping me on time,” and “I understand, but I’m in charge and this is how we’re going to do it.”
And remember, you can make movies and do any or all of the above, but if you do, you’re a complete dick.
So, congratulations, champ! Go out there and shoot that movie!