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Photogs Aren’t Good With Money– 9 Tips for Sticking to Your Photo + Video Production Budget

ChaseJarvis_productionWe artists often suck at managing productions and budgets. We all have to get thru that stuff in the early days, but if you are numbers/manager challenged, my first piece of advice is bringing a producer into your shoots as soon as you can make it happen. That allows you to focus on your craft. Having said that, my staff producer Megan has had a ripping series of posts going on, including this one aimed at those of you who are either managing these budgets yourself or moving into hiring your own producer. Megan is my awesome-sauce staff producer and almost entirely responsible for all estimating for incoming project requests, all line producing, making sure we stay on budget, helping me realize the creative vision and then reconciling (or capturing actual costs) once the project is complete. Safe to say she rocks it. While there are a thousand resources available online to help you write an estimate; you’ll want to listen to Meg – here she offers up some tips for staying on that all important budget during your production. And there are 3-5 more links at the bottom to help you even more w your productions. Best of luck – take it away Megan.

Thanks Chase. There are 3 main components to any photo estimate: creative fees, production fees + expenses, licensing + usage rights. The creative + usage fees will only be impacted by a change in scope of work or deliverables, so it’s really about keeping an eye on the production fees + expenses when you’re thinking about budget and planning.

The fact of the matter is that the more accurate your estimate is, the easier it will be to stay on track once the production is underway. As with most things in life, practice makes perfect, so stick with it. Here are my top 9 tips for staying on top.

1. Get clear:
Make sure you have a strong understanding of the project parameters before you start the job. Ask for a creative brief, shot list or any info that may help paint a clearer picture. The more you know in advance, the better equipped you’ll be to produce the job on time + on budget. Get it in writing – budgets and all the info you need (see later tip ;) – so you have something to point to while doing all the work).

2. Research:
This step is especially useful if you’re traveling but applies to everything. When you’re drafting the initial estimate, check out the going rate for flights, hotels in the neighborhood, per diem + mileage rates for the state you’re shooting in, car rentals, baggage fees, etc.

Booking talent? Call an agency or two and ask about day rates and availability.

Renting equipment? Call your local shop to make sure you know how much to budget for each piece – and make sure it’s available!

3. Plan ahead:
Regarding travel, keep in mind that flight costs generally rise as you get closer to your travel date. Try to book 2 weeks in advance to avoid getting gouged, or make sure your estimate is padded enough to account for higher rates.

Reach out to contractors early on to check on rates + availability. Most folks are willing to work within your budget constraints if they’re not super busy and if you’re transparent about the job.

4. Over-communicate:
Set super clear expectations with both your clients + crew. How long will the shoot day be (realistically)? Is there budget for overtime? If not, make sure everyone knows what the hard stop is. Provide crew with as many shoot day details as possible. Share scope of work, schedule, etc. so there are no surprises + everyone knows what’s expected of them on set.

One of the biggest mistakes I see from junior producers is that they fear talking about things that “might” happen or the uncomfortable cost issues that arise from evolving plans. This is not a good quality. Turn this kryptonite into a strength – be open and willing to chat about budget and all things like it — and you will have separated yourself from 90% of the cost and client management challenges. Be proactive.

5. Get it in writing:
See my note above. Consider drafting deal memos for contractors to outline the length of shoot day, agreen-upon rate + hourly O/T costs, should the shoot go long.

Client wants to add a shot? Have them sign a change order, outlining how the extra shot will impact the bottom line; don’t forget to include crew + location O/T.

Even the most basic stuff should be captured in an email so everyone is on the same page – and if there are any discrepancies you can always refer back to what you’d agreed to. In the biz they call this the paper trail.

6. Know your pinch points:
For those of us that have been doing this a while, we’re able to readily identify the places we tend to get in trouble. The most common areas are food + travel. You might have to get creative in order to stay on budget in these categories, but keep an eye out for places you might be able to make up any overages.

7. Keep a running tally:
Plug receipt totals into an “Actuals” column as you go, so that you always know where you stand. It will help you easily identify if and where you’re over budget, and where you have a little wiggle room.

Don’t let yourself get surprised. Always know where you stand relative to what you’re spending.

8. Allow for contingencies:
Be sure to include the fine print as part of your estimate (as a Terms + Conditions addendum), or as part of a larger contract. Identify who’s responsible for what, outline protocol for any major changes + how any disputes will be handled. For instance, if your shoot is outdoors, include a note about how weather delays will be handled.

Agencies will often issue a PO for the exact dollar amount of your estimate. You’ll want to know how to go about submitting an estimate for unforeseen overages (i.e. you arranged + paid for your client’s car to the airport, or you ended up shipping all product back to your client’s office).

There is an art to this. Practice makes perfect.

9. Be smart:
Your clients are hiring you for your creative vision. You may be able to offer some ideas your client hadn’t considered or find solutions to get the intended results at a lower cost. Pipe up. Don’t be afraid to propose a more cost-effective solution, as long as your client’s needs are met.

Want some more Production advice? Try these on for size:

10 Essentials to Go the Extra Mile [For Clients + Crew]
Deliver With Style – 6 Tips for Delivering Files to Clients
How to Prepare for Your Commercial Photo or Video Shoot

That’s all I got for now folks. Try keeping these things in mind on your next shoot, and let us know if they helped. Also, feel free to chime in with other tips or tricks that you’ve found especially useful – I’ll keep an eye on the comments and the social feeds with some answers. Until next time!

12 Tips for Entering the Commercial Photo & Film World [Hint: It's Not What You Think]

chasejarvis_12tipsforbreakingIntoCommercialPhotography
Hi folks, Megan here, long time staff Producer for Chase. We get a ton of email inquiries every day from guys and gals looking to “work their way into the industry” or utilize skills learned while at school. Most inquire about being a photo assistant. And while that’s certainly an option to learn a ton on-set, it’s not the only path you can take to get your feet wet in the business of commercial photography and film. It’s not often discussed, but as valuable as a good photo assistant is to a photographer, a good production assistant can be just as clutch. And it’s a way to ease in the biz without the same level of knowledge as the photo assistant gig, because a production assistant is even more about the hustle.

So I thought I’d have a little fun here and describe to you the Best Production Assistant in the World. This is all hypothetical, but if you think these are all qualities you possess, please, feel free to give your local photographer hero (or heck, even me) a call..

YOU:
…are the 1st person on set
One of my favorite sayings in photography + film industries: If you’re early to the set (or location), you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. And if you’re late, you’re fired. You should be standing around waiting, long before you’re supposed to arrive. You might not get fired the first time you’re not early, but the point is, don’t be late. Ever. Ever. Ever. Trust me, the producer doesn’t care if traffic was bad, or if your dog threw up. Be on time (= early).

…know when to be quiet
We champion the concept that a good idea can come from anywhere, but there’s a time and a place. The best PA knows when to chime in to their peers (almost NEVER directly to the photographer or director with a “creative idea” unless they ask but ALWAYS as a matter of safety – “hey that light is about to fall!”). So you’ve primarily got to know to stay quiet and observe. Getting caught chatting with the crew and making a bunch of noise is a quick way to not get hired again. Don’t be a know it all, but offer solutions to your peer group on set if you have a great idea. Generally speaking, keep your nose down and the work ethic up.

…have a car
And a decent driving record. A big part of being a PA is running errands, which is hard to do efficiently if you’re always waiting for the bus. Public transport is acceptable in NYC, Paris, London, etc, but usually frowned upon in non major-metro areas.

…are able to lift 50 lbs… easily.
There’s a lot of schlepping that goes on. You need to have some decent bicep strength and a healthy back. Be in shape, don’t be a slacker. If you’re not tired after a day of work, you either a) didn’t work hard enough or b) got lucky with a slack job. If b), don’t count on getting too many of those and don’t build your mentality of how in shape you should or shouldn’t be around the b) scenario. Be at least moderately physically fit – it will pay off.

…have no ego
Being a PA is not glamorous. At all. You’ll be asked to do things like take out the trash + clean up spills, all with a smile on your face. But doing so with pleasure and expediently is sure to get noticed and respected. Seriously. And in fact, I’ll add to this category… maybe even the most important thing… Have an amazing attitude. Nobody likes a whiner, a nay-sayer, a negative Nancy. Be a yes-boss, with a smile and some skills. Be positive. Oh, and be polite too. It’s amazing how far that goes.

…have a strong work ethic
You are working your tail off from the moment you walk on set, until you step out the door. The best PA is ready to work as hard and as long as it takes to get the job done. If any other PA or assistant is carrying stuff, cleaning, etc and you’re not, you’re not doing your job. Know when you need to steer clear of certain roles (Gaffer, Grip, etc) especially on union jobs – and know when to help. The more you’re around this stuff, the more you’ll understand the subtleties here.

…have a slight case of OCD
Attention to detail is the name of the game in production. The best PA is super organized and on top of his or her stuff. Always. If you’re a flake or even moderately poorly organized, this will show up quickly. Respect gets doled out if you can take on a project and complete it without being micro managed. On the contrary, no one wants to have to tell you the best way to “get coffee”. So you have to be able to figure it out. Efficiently and effectively.

…anticipate what needs to be done
See that the recycle bin is full? You empty it before being asked. The coffee pot is empty? You brew another pot before another crew member goes to refill his or her cup. Find yourself with nothing to do? Start making the rounds and ask if anyone needs a water. Anticipation shows that you understand what the heck is going on. Which, in turn, is the fastest way to get respect, a raise, a promotion.

…think on your feet
We’re always dealing with real-time problems on-set that need real-time solutions. The best PA is able to go with the flow and help resolve the issues at hand in a timely manner.

…remain calm under pressure
In the immortal words of Jimmy Dugan, “there’s no crying in baseball.” Or on photography sets. Be clear headed. Like Fonzi.

…value presentation
Sometimes there’s a designated Craft Services professional on set, and sometimes it falls on the PA to shop for and put out breakfast, lunch, snacks and bevies. The best PA has a keen eye for presentation, whether it’s food, a pile or cords, a stack of apple boxes, or whatever. Make stuff look nice. (You also hopefully have a sense of style, whether it’s food or design. Understand that setting down a can of Cheese Whiz and a pack of Saltines OR wearing your flip flops to a celebrity shoot is usually no bueno.)

…are resourceful
Perhaps the most useful and prized of all PA attributes, this one will help you out in any and/or all facets of the creative industry. You know who to call, where to go, how to make it happen, or you can figure it out without much oversight. Try to “know people” who can get shiz done – whether it’s a welder or a car wash, the owner of a photo store or the guy behind the rental counter. Make an effort to know people. And know how to do stuff. Lots of stuff. Sure you can make coffee, but can you properly coil cords and cables? Can you paint (as in walls)? Can you parallel park? Can you fix broken stuff? Can you MacGyver your a$$ off? The more stuff you know how to do, the better. BE RESOURCEFUL.

Of course having some experience is preferred in every line of work, but it’s not 100% required when starting out. There’s something to be said for possessing the innate ability to “figure it out.” If you’re eager to please and ready to work your booty off, starting as a PA might be a good entrée to the industry. You’ll certainly get to see the underbelly of the photography + film worlds, which is often a good thing if you’re wondering if this photography thing is a good line of work for you. Gotta see the sausage being made in the basement to know where all that industry flavor comes from…

Everybody’s gotta start somewhere.

How To Prepare for Your Commercial Photo or Video Shoot — 10 Things Clients Expect In Your Production Notebook


One golden rule to a great photoshoot is to start with great production. A smooth production puts everyone and everything in the right place for the shoot to succeed long before the shutter button gets pressed. That said, I have some of the best producers in the biz on staff. And here, Megan outlines one essential to every commercial production – the production notebook. Use this info to help make your next production run smooth like butta’… Take it away, Meg.
___
Hello peeps, Megan here, producer for Chase. We’re gearing up for a several big international jobs, so as I’m booking travel and working with a local producer on locations + permits, I’m also putting the Production Book together. This is critical information that all professional production houses put together and it’s something clients and agencies expect from you on any large-scale shoot. Think of it as a one-stop shop for all pertinent details. It can be distributed to all parties via email prior to the shoot, and a printed copy should accompany you to set. Not only does it help make you look super professional, it just might be the most practical thing you carry (aside from your camera, of course).

You don’t need special software; start with a Word or Pages doc. Just keep an eye on formatting. It should be clean, easy to read and align with your brand. Once it’s complete, save a template you can always use to generate this doc for your next shoot, then output a PDF for the production crew and send it out!

Here’s a basic list of things to include (as applicable):

1. cover sheet: a nicely laid out page that identifies the client, the production company and/or the photographer
_client + photographer logos
_name of job

2. contact info: detail the names, titles, phone numbers + email address of all associated parties
_client
_agency
_crew

3. shot list / creative: detailed shot list and/or photo references
_wardrobe/prop specs
_art direction

4. travel itineraries: who’s going where and when?
_flights
_confirmation numbers

5. accommodations: where is everyone staying? 
_address
_contact
_check in/out dates
_directions to/from airport
_meeting room location + details

6. location info: every shoot happens somewhere, whether it’s at your studio or the Mojave desert
_address
_contact info (i.e. site rep)
_map
_directions
_photos
_certificates of insurance for each
_releases
_permit info
_copy of permits
_contact info for city or governing agency (i.e. FilmLA)

7. talent: actors, models, friends, guy you scouted on the subway
_contact info
_agency info
_call times
_locations
_photos
_releases

8. vendors: a list of any and all 3rd party resources involved in the shoot
_visa/Carnet confirmations
_caterers
_shipping
_equipment rentals
_ground transpo

9. shooting schedule: what does each day look like?
_call times
_wrap times
_travel to/from locations
_HMU + wardrobe prep
_lunch + breaks
_shot breakdown

10. production calendar: all pertinent deadlines should be identified here
_pre-production hot items (i.e. location + talent selection due dates, permit approval process, etc.)
_shooting window
_post-production requirements (i.e. number of rounds to client, amount of time allotted for feedback, proofing, due date of final images, etc.)

There you have it! Start with these categories as a template, and add or subtract as needed. May seem kind of tedious as you’re doing it, but I promise you, it’s so worth it. Until next time! Stay tuned for some behind-the-scenes goodness from our shoots, trips, and travels! -Megan the Producer

Deliver with Style — 6 Tips for Delivering Files to Clients

chasejarvis_digitaldelivery

Hi folks, Megan here again, Producer at CJ Inc. We recently delivered a couple of big jobs to clients, and it got me thinking about file management, tracking + job wrap-up. As the producer, I’m responsible for creating + managing the post production schedule, sending files to clients for approval, then delivering final images once all files have been been given the thumbs up. I work closely with Chase and the digital artist to ensure that we’re delivering exactly what the client has asked for, which means cross-checking each image with both the creative brief AND the contract to ensure that our bases are covered.

Here are some things to keep in mind prior to arriving on set.

_File size:
What are the images going to be used for? A billboard or in-store signage? A web banner or e-brochure? Usage is usually defined at the contract stage, so it should be well documented and understood prior to shoot day. This will perhaps inform which camera you opt to shoot with and image resolution.

_File format:
TIFFs? Layered PSDs? JPGs? RAWs?

_Orientation:
Is shot #4 a horizontal or vertical? Be sure to have the creative brief handy if there’s no Art Director on set to advise.

_Naming convention + folder structure:
Has your client provided you with a specific naming convention or preferred folder structure? This is especially common on retail and catalog jobs, where each shot usually coincides with a garment SKU.
[If not, you may want to decide upon an agreeable solution before you start shooting.]

_Delivery:
How many files are you providing? Are you able to upload to an FTP fairly quickly? Or will you need to send a hard drive to your client?
[If you are sending a hard drive, be sure to label it with your name + contact info so it’s easily identifiable.]

_Description of files + thumbnails:
Along with the hard drive, we like to include a memo (or cover letter, of sorts) outlining the project name, shoot description, deliverables + usage terms. All of the pertinent info relating to the files is concisely captured in 1 document for the client’s reference.

I also include a page (or more, depending on how many images are being delivered) of thumbnails, so the client knows what he or she is getting at a glance. A copy of each of these documents gets saved in the project folder on the server so if there’s ever any question about what was delivered and when, it’s easily trackable. File delivery is usually the last step of a job, with the exception of final billing, and can leave a lasting impression on your client. You really want to nail it.

Feel like I’ve missed something important? Have anything to add? Feel free to leave comments below.

+++++++++
(Disclaimer: I’m no Digital Asset Manager, so if you want additional info on any of the items above, check out the Complete Workflow and Backup for Photo + Video here.)

Photoshoot Secrets: Why Model Talent is Crucial & How to Cast For the Best

Hi friends, Megan here – I’m Chase’s primary on-staff producer. We just wrapped up a commercial shoot for a major sporting goods company and it required a monster amount of production. These tips are fresh on my mind and since it was a highly specialized sport shoot on a short time-frame (ie: challenging from a production standpoint) I thought I’d talk a little about the casting process for this type of job.

First, as you start to think about casting, you might want to consider the specific factors that are most important to both the client and photographer.

The LOOK (ie 6′ tall and blonde with blue eyes and long flowing hair)
If so, you probably want to start with your local talent agencies. You can find these online under ‘model’ or ‘talent’ agencies. They are abundant in most major metropolitan areas.

The SKILL (for this job it was athletic ability/running) 
If so, you may want to look for top-tier athletes in the given sport. You could reach out to local athlete groups, yoga studios, for instance, or running clubs. If you were shooting an ad for the circus you might need to find a juggler. There could be specific experience that your models need. You could also consider enlisting the help of a seasoned casting agent, who will be able to source potential talent from a variety of places. They, like model agencies, are abundantly available in most metropolitan cities worldwide.

The BUDGET.
Depending on your budget, you might be able to go world class with the talent from said agency above… OR…you may want to consider casting “real people.” That is, folks who probably aren’t represented by an agency and will work for a lower day rate, depending on their level of experience. These can be friends, part time models, or people you spot on the street who have a look you’re after. REMEMBER when sourcing these people: they usually have no experience, so you’re trading experience for a look. Sometimes that works great – other times it can cost you a lot because your production doesn’t move along as well as it should, as quickly as it should, with the right facial expressions, experience, etc. It’s a balancing act – and you usually get what you pay for.

In our most recent case for the job at hand, it was a combination of the above factors (and it often is…). We needed to find talent who were trained athletes with some experience modeling so they were comfortable running for a photographer – and within a well-defined budget. There’s a difference between folks who have been competing in track and field or marathons for years, and those who understand what it means to do it in front of a camera. Trust me. Athlete does not mean model and vice versa. The experience of understanding the need to repeat or hold certain body positions for the photographer comes from experience on photo shoots and will make the day run like clock work.

Since we were tasked with finding nine runners, we needed to be conscious of how quickly talent fees would add up. Enter Sports & Lifestyle Unlimited, an agency with branches in Portland and LA that represents highly skilled athletes. We were able to negotiate a fair rate for all parties involved…the model, the agency, and us. This was aided by the fact that we booked all but one of the models through them; you may have heard the terms “most favored nations” (everybody gets the same rate) or “economy of scale” (the more you use form one source or at one time, the easier it is to book for everyone, so there can be money saved…) used to describe our approach to this situation.

(other items that affect budget if you’re traveling models in for a shoot or having them for mulitple days or shoots for the same project…)

Travel days – what will you pay them for the time it takes to get to the shoot?
Shoot days – what is the daily rate for working in front of the camera?
Down days – what is the price for weather days or days when they’re at the shoot, but not in front of camera?
Per diems – this is a flat rate of money that you give models or production staff for non-shoot related meals. Guides for these amounts vary by region and are somewhat standardized… plenty of info on the ‘net.

Again, most agencies will work with you on these rates to arrive at something fair and reasonable.

The kicker to REMEMBER about BUDGET: Model agencies, like the rest of us, do work to make money. As such, model and talent agencies will add a 20% fee on top of Travel, Shoot + Down days, so be sure to factor that into your initial estimate. This is standard, fair practice and how agencies get paid.

Back to our story… Once we had received the talent + model specs from the client (i.e. age, height, ethnic diversity, “look”), we contacted SLU and requested a package of guys and gals that fit the bill. One of the things that was absolutely mandatory for us was running ability, so we asked to see a video of each of the talent submitted in addition to their portfolios + current snapshots. This is standard practice. Don’t be afraid to ask for this. The last thing you or your client wants is to get a good looking model on set that either a)doesn’t look like the shots on the talent website (ie shaved their head or similar) or b)can’t do the thing you need them to do as well as was represented when on the phone during booking.)

In addition to video, you may want to ask really specific questions of the talent (usually via the agent, but can be direct to talent on occasion…) that relates specific to the jargon of the activity you were told they were “an expert” at… For example if you’re looking for rock climbers, ask “what kind of climbing shoes do they own?” or “what level do they boulder at?” For runners, it might be “what was the last running event they ran in?”. You get the picture.

Our selections.
After Chase reviewed all submissions, we sent our recommendations to the client for consideration. After carefully considering who would work best for each of the shots we were tasked to shoot, they sent their selects to us for booking. At this point, if you have a shooting schedule already mapped out, it’s relatively straightforward to figure out the which talent you’re shooting on which day. In our case, the schedule depended entirely on locations + weather, so we ended up booking all nine talent for all shoot days in order to give us maximum flexibility. This isn’t the most cost-effective solution, but in this case, it was the only option for our situation.

When it was all said and done, our running talent was top-notch and total sweethearts, to boot. Worth every penny!

Let me know your success stories, failures, or — of course– if you have any questions. In production, it’s all about resources and who you know, so Kate and I are happy to share what we’ve learned throughout the years as best we can here on the blog :)

10 Essentials to Go the Extra Mile (for Your Clients + Crew)

extra mile 1Hello, readers! Megan here, Producer at Chase Jarvis Inc. We’ve just returned from an amazing 6-day shoot in Aspen, CO. You perhaps read about it here, here, or here. It got me thinking about client/crew relationships and customer service.

One of the ways you can set yourself apart as a creative professional is to really go the extra mile for both your client(s) and your crew. This applies to YOU, whether you’re a photographer or director producing your own jobs with a small crew, or a producer wrangling a hefty crew with a lot of moving parts. Here are some things to think about before your next shoot:

1. Flights: We do a lot of traveling around here, and we all know that flying can be a pain in the you-know-what. Lines, waiting, more lines, more waiting. Knowing whether people prefer a window or aisle, bulkhead or exit row, goes a long way to make the experience that much better. Be sure to include frequent flier numbers, when applicable. Also, how is everyone getting to the airport? Can you arrange for a car service to carpool some folks that live close to one another? Or should everyone cab it individually and bill the cost along with their final invoice?

2. Hotels: Whether you’re staying in a 3, 4, or 5-star hotel with tons of amenities, or a low-budget motel off the highway, providing the front desk with some details about your stay can really help things run smoothly.  Be sure to let them know how many of you are traveling together and if you have any special needs (early check-in, late check-out, meeting space for your pre-pro, printing capabilities, wi-fi access, breakfast, gear storage, etc.). Ask for dining recommendations or the location of the nearest grocery or drug store. Additionally, since you’re perhaps spending a serious chunk of change with the hotel, you might be able to wiggle into a few extra benefits as well that could help your shoot – early breakfast, discount rates, or extra rooms for gear/meetings. Also remember: the front desk is there to help, if you let them. You can show your appreciation by generously tipping the staff, the shuttle driver, bell hop, housekeeping, etc. Upon checkout, we like to leave an envelope at the front desk for housekeeping. Generally, the rule of thumb is $2 to $5 per day per room.

3. Rental cars:  Think about what kind of space you need:  you may be traveling with so much gear that an SUV is a necessity or maybe even a cargo van.  Or maybe your client wants a convertible if you’re shooting somewhere warm and tropical. Which company should you use?  There’s a balance to be found between price, convenience and reliability. We are usually hurrying off to a pre-pro or a scout and need to know that our car is ready and right. Whenever possible, we go with a company with whom we have a preferred account for fast service and a location in the main terminal.

4. Food: I could go on forever about this one. Food is often an undervalued aspect of a shoot. Keeping your crew well-fed and watered can go a long way to making a tough day feel less tiresome.

  1. Know food allergies and/or preferences. Is anyone allergic to nuts, gluten-free or vegetarian?
  2. Snacks are an easy way to make people happy. Our crew likes Peanut M&Ms, red Swedish Fish, beef jerky and string cheese. What does your crew like to have handy?
  3. What kind of restaurants does your client like to eat at for dinner? Sushi? Mexican? Find out so you can make a reservation in advance. We always love a spot with a private room for large parties. In many restaurants, there’s not even an extra charge!

5. Community: Make sure you get to know your clients and crew well; nothing brings a crew together like an off-duty meal. It’s a fantastic opportunity to talk about things other than the j-o-b and really get to know everyone on a personal level. Your client’s wedding anniversary is next month? File that tidbit away so you can be sure to send him or her a card and perhaps a bottle of wine.

6. Follow-through: Make sure everyone has received and read the call sheet you emailed by following up with a phone call to confirm. It sucks when a key member of your team calls bright and early on shoot day frantic because they don’t know where to go and when.

7. Organization: If there’s one skill that every producer should have honed, it’s organization. It can be tricky to keep track of all the moving pieces, but if you have a good system in place, it can help out tremendously. Try centralizing your information into a production book, with the creative, contact info, schedule, shot list, talent, locations, permits, calendar, travel confirmations, etc. that you can constantly reference. Not only is it super helpful for you, but it instills confidence in your client that you know what you’re doing and that you have everything under control.

8. Details: You know what they say, the devil is in the details. It’s often the little things that make the difference between an okay shoot and an awesome one. Is there a concierge we can leave our skis + snowboards with at the hotel? Is there a hotel shuttle available to take us to the location? Did you remember to get that radio to the 1st assistant? Or make sure everyone has their lift tickets on them? There are a million of these little details to think about on any shoot. The more you can anticipate in advance, the smoother your shoot will go. And the more you’ll impress your clients.

9. Communication: Words to live by, friends, “over-communicate.” Make sure everyone is on the same page and knows what the expectations are. Just had a conference call with your client? Summarize what transpired and who’s responsible for what in an email. I promise you, this will save your behind at one point or another during your career. This is also an effective way to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

10. Be (sincerely) nice: This might seem like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten myself out of a jam by simply being really nice. I’m not suggesting that you overdo it on the saccharine; in fact, no one likes a kiss-ass. This can sometimes be easier said than done, but don’t forget that we’re lucky to be doing what we love for a living. You’ll find that people (both clients + crew) are a lot more eager to work with you on a long-term basis if you just be nice :)

Thanks for reading! For more production tips, be sure to check out Kate’s awesome post here.

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