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Lessons Learned Failing a Film

Updated on May 14, 2019
JoeCDelderfield profile image

Film (BA) with 7 years experience in online content creation.

Source

What did I actually learn from this scrap heap of a film, or was this all a waste of time?

Failure One: Organisation

Maybe this was going to be inevitable but I had never had to organise such a big production before and as well as directing the thing this was a lot to take on. I'd only ever had sets of maybe me, the actor and the lighting guy and here I am trying to get 7+ people across the county for multiple shoots.

In the end my lack of organisation not only lost us a location but also resulted in rewriting whole sections of the script, and as a director if you need to do all that there is very little time left to think about the rest of the production. Lighting, Costume, even Shot-lists went out the window as I panicked at 7am trying to find a replacement driver.

Overall a lot went down due to poor planning:

  • Drivers Dropped out

  • We lost equipment

  • Didn't get enough footage

  • Motivation took a hit

  • The vibe shifted to amateurish

If I had one thing different it would be the hiring of a production manager to free up my time and energy to focus on the creative side while the chance for mess ups is removed.


Failure Two: Crew

Now I'm not going to use this as a platform to complain about a specific individual or individuals but there is a good teachable moment here in that you really need to consider your crew members and what sort of set your running.

If you pay someone even if its a small amount you will get a much better job out of someone compared to just having your friends turn up and do it for free, even if your paying your friends to do it, trust me there is a very different vibe when everyone knows their getting at least a little something for their hard work.

You should also double check everyone's ability to work in their field, nothing to harsh just check the work they've done before and double check that they are familiar with the equipment being used on your production.

Failure Three: EGO

Little ashamed to admit this but yes, ego got in the way of this film big time.

I didn't want to compromise even when that would have made a better film, I didn't value everyone's time as much as I should have and most shamefully of all I never once asked for help instead relying on others to offer that help long after it was too late to avoid an inevitable catastrophe in the production.

Generally I just thought I could do it all and film is too much of a collaborative medium for you to think that you have all the time, experience and expertise needed to fill every role on set. The simple fact is you can't, you just can't and you need those around you more than they ultimately need your dumb film.

Failure Four: ???

Honestly there is just some things that you can never account for and something will always go wrong no matter how much you get right in your production.

A lens always breaks, an actor always bails and you will never be able to predict it all but here are just a few things to remember when it seems like your up a creek without a paddle:

  • Calm Down

  • Don't beat yourself up

  • Remember there is always 100 ways to get something done

  • and never forget to ask for help or input from the crew because it maybe them who save the whole production in the end.

Tl;dr

Here's what you need to know on how to not fail a larger scale film production if your jumping in from small scale amatuer films:

  • Get a Production Manager to Organise your film

  • Know your crew and pay them what you can

  • Ask for help

  • Don't panic when things go wrong because they always will.

I'm hoping to take all this into my next film and maybe I can make a much more successful film and come back with a more helpful article on film production, or failing that at least a 2.0 list of how not to fail at film.

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