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Ten Things Every Producer and Director Should Know

  1. Make a completely realistic budget - a budget you know you can live with and trust. It's even better if your estimates are based on previous, personal experience.

  2. Stick to your budget no matter what! Resist ANY change. If someone says, "Well, this is gonna cost you more than we said it would," make them stick to their word or get someone else. If they say, "We gotta have this," ask them what they're willing to give up in exchange for it.

  3. Make sure every department knows what their budget limits are. They must accept the budget constraints you've provided before you spend anything. Their budget is a "contract" between you and them.

  4. Keep track of everything spent. When the prop department wants $50 for a prop, cross that item off the list and make sure they deliver exactly what they said they would deliver.

  5. Think of your shooting script as your bible. You'll lose track of where you are in the middle of production…things are just too crazy. Remember I said this! So, focus on the script page and scene you're doing and complete that task before trying anything else. Make sure you leave a set with the scene completely in the can and don't leave until you do.

  6. Become very flexible and open minded. Learn to keep asking yourself questions. This means, open your eyes and look around. Is there another scene or shot that could be done right where you are? Would a small rewrite or change allow you grab something right now, rather than later? If you're ahead of schedule, don't rest! Can you get something else in the can now? If the weather's good, maybe you should get those exterior shots now, rather than be rained out next week when they're scheduled.

  7. Don't trust anyone! (especially agents and certain unions). I know this may sound paranoid, but if you're producing or directing, a little paranoia goes a long way! Have a backup for every cast and crew member (all those people you auditioned or interviewed but didn't hire). Bad vibes from unhappy cast and crew members can quickly ruin a film and it shows on screen too.

  8. You don't have to be friends with everyone you work with - it's not in your job description. Human nature dictates that you will make enemies and there's nothing you can do about it. You can say you're sorry after the film's done. Remember that sign on Harry Truman's desk, "The buck stops here?" You are where the buck stops and the "buck" will walk right into your office or hotel room and ask for you by name.

  9. Know everyone's limitations. It's more important to intimately know the extent of someone's abilities and their willingness to accept responsibility, than to rely on the unknown. Know everybody's breaking point and push them to just short of their limit everyday. This ultimately makes them stronger and breeds excellence. But be careful, push them too far and they WILL fail.

  10. Be strong. The truth is, making a film is one of the most difficult and demanding occupations in the world. If principal photography is six weeks long, remember that it's SIX WEEKS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. When you're angry, tired and want to give up, remember this: you've got to dedicate yourself now or there won't be a second chance. Never, ever, give up.
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