It’s hard to pinpoint the causes for the trend of “sloppy” production. Maybe it is the relentless drive toward tighter and tighter budgets or shorter and shorter timelines to finish. Maybe it is technology that increasing gives permission for producers and directors to assume ‘we will fix it in post.’ Or perhaps, it is that layer of production management expertise that used to be a ‘given’ at the client level and now seems to not exist or that workload has been transferred to overworked others. Regardless of its genesis, we are increasingly seeing less attention to the producing details necessary for a successful production.
Estimates, approvals, permits, schedules, location scouting, talent casting, budgets: all the unglamorous, due diligence critically necessary to create successful motion media. We get it. A lot of producing can be drudgery and much of producing would seem to be antithetical to a creative process. “True creativity is extemporaneous… don’t cramp my style!” Quite the contrary great prep is the essential homework that allows for the true creative process to flourish.
Simply from a fiduciary perspective, if we start with a reasonable premise that it is our responsibility to put the maximum number of our client’s dollars ‘on-the-screen’, then it is logical of us all to review our work approach to minimize the inevitable snafus of the production process, before we shoot.
It is the details that always bring you down. One wrong digit on the address on a call sheet, forgetting a backup shirt for that messy scene with a talent, a parking permit with the wrong parking meter numbers, a sync shoot in neighborhood and you didn’t know the next door neighbor had roofers coming that very shoot day, a neighbor that didn’t give permission to put a light in their yard, a talent that neglected to say they are in a advertising competitor’s spot; these are just a few of myriad pitfalls that can slam a production. The financial consequences are obvious. Most crews are hourly and like a taxicab. Your costs continue to accumulate until you reach your destination, or worse, while you are idling. But perhaps more importantly, overlooked details distract key players from their primary responsibility; creating impactful and cogent video narratives.
This is not an argument against serendipity. Quite the contrary, having a well-produced shoot can allow the director time to try that “one-more” take, a DP time to experiment with a different focal length or a talent to play with a different interpretation. Producing for details is an enabler not a constraint.
The Arbor Group knows that there is no such concept as “over-produced” and it is the small things, the details that drive a successful production. To paraphrase an old saying: “Anyone who does not think small things can make a big difference has not slept in a bedroom with a mosquito.”