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Director's Notes - Directly from the "From Script to Screen" seminar (check out "Tom's Blog" page for more notes)

Do it right first. 

Making a film - any film - will require a lot of patience, a lot of perserverance and a lot of attention to detail.

The best advice I can give first time filmmakers is to do it right first. Taking "shortcuts" often results in much more work down the road. For example, hiring or engaging a script supervisor in the short run might increase your total budget a bit right from the start but will save you tons of time as you move from the shooting to the editing process. Try not to cut corners to save a nickel and end up spending many times that nickle in the long run. You'll thank yourself at the end of the process.

Guerrilla Filmmaking - Is It Worth the Risk?

Let's revisit the July 3rd post (Safety Concerns - IMPORTANT STUFF) again because there are more lessons to learn from this. 

The news yesterday was that the director, Randall Miller; the producer, Jody Savin; and even the executive producer, Jay Sedrish, for the Greg Allman biopic, "Midnight Rider", have been arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing. 

Even though this particular film does not seem to be, at its base, a "guerrilla" film, it brings to mind this idea that making films without following the rules is somehow more exciting or romantic than making a standard "by-the-book" film. And look - I get it. Everyone has done something that goes against the rules and it can be exciting. But when you have millions (or even thousands or just hundreds) of dollars resting on the decisions you make and, even more importantly - in fact, of the utmost importance - you have the lives and safety of your cast and crew relying on your smart and reasoned decision-making, you MUST make the RIGHT DECISIONS.

Accidents happen. Mishaps occur. Unexpected things arise all the time. So, as a producer mounting a film project, you have to anticipate every possible problem and solve each before they occur. 

Getting permits to shoot legally on a property that isn't yours is boring and "by-the-book" and maybe it means you're no longer a guerrilla filmmaker. However, knowing all the ins and outs of the location at which you plan to shoot is just smart filmmaking even though it's not necessarily "exciting". And the up-side is that your shoot is much more likely to go off without a hitch and you limit the chances that someone will be injured or killed. 

As boring as obtaining permits can be, imagine how excruciatingly boring having sufficient and appropriate insurance is going to be. Or hiring qualified security for an exposed public location. Or arranging for a paramedic or EMT to be present on a potentially dangerous set. But that's your job as a producer. Own it or don't but if you decide to ignore those important questions and issues, you may expose your crew, your cast and yourself to unreasonable and dangerous risk. (Tuesday, July 8, 2014)