Producing Journal

Producer: Journal

Producer Project: (Criteria 2.1, 2.2, 3.1)

For the Producer project, the class would be split in to several small groups and be given the task of producing s short film for the Level 3 Media students who are taking part in the Virgin Short Films competition 2014. A few weeks before our project started, the BTEC students gave a small presentation in their groups which briefly outlined what they were doing. This years Virgin Short Films Competition is all based around the well known fairly tales from The Brothers Grimm.

After we heard the presentations, we were put into our groups and I was paired with Richard. We would be acting as producers for a small group headed by Jai Masters, who chose to tell the tale of Rumpelstiltskin. As soon as we found out this was our group, myself and Richard went to see Jai and the team. Myself and Richard introduced ourselves to Jai as he was the only member of his group present and asked if he had any paperwork already in place that we could have a look at, he gave us a script, story outline and storyboards which we were very pleased with. So me and Richard went away to look over the script. We exchanged emails to keep in touch and arrange further meetings.

Before reading the paperwork we had been given, me and Richard had a look on the Virgin Short Films website to read up on the brief, the rules and restrictions so we knew what we would be trying to produce. The rules stated that the film had to be suitable for a PG or U audience, which meant only mild threat was permitted, no bad language, violence or anything too sinister.

The rules of the competition also stated that the film could not be longer that 2 minutes long. So, after a read up on the rules and brief, the first thing we turned our attention to was the script, (pictured above), it was 12 pages long so our first thought was it definitely needed shortening in order to meet the rules of Virgin Shorts. A 12 page script would definitely last longer that 2 minutes. Although it was 12 pages long, myself and Richard agreed that it was a very well written and feasible script, it just needed shortening. So we read through it together, made some quick notes and set up a meeting with the group so we could discuss the proposed changes further. We arranged the meeting for Wednesday at 12pm to make sure nobody was in lessons and we had plenty of time to talk through everything. A screenshot of the email is shown below, as is Jai’s confirmation reply.

Wednesday 5th May:

Myself and Richard waited at reception as agreed but only Jai met us here, the rest of the group, who we have yet to meet at this point were not present for reasons unknown. Nonetheless, we sat down with Jai and went through the script together, we explained that we liked the script a lot, but we needed it shortening in order to fit the rules. Given that Jai originally wrote the script that we were all pleased with, we left it for him to amend with our notes. We also discussed the possibility of changing the ending slightly as the original script ended with a man faced with gun, which might have been deemed too threatening or unsuitable for a Universal or PG rating. We all agreed that it would be better to look at other options. The locations in the script were all feasible which we were pleased about, the main settings are a countryside pub, which Richard has already sorted with a local pub he works at and ‘city streets’, which will be various areas of Melton that we are looking in to, this saves money for travel which is essential with our non-existant budget. After discussing the script, locations, actors and budget we concluded that weeks meeting and Jai went away to begin changes to the script whilst myself and Richard look in to actor possibilities and other locations.

Friday 7th May: Meeting with Jon – (Criteria 2.1 & 2.2)

Wednesday 12th March-

After our meeting with Jon, Richard and I decided it would be a good idea to get in touch with Tom. Jon told us that he has good experience acting at this level so me and Richard are keen to get him involved and on board early. Richard sent Tom a message (Shown Below) via his website asking if he would be available to help us and we are currently awaiting a response.

Tom message


Wednesday 26th

On Wednesday I sent Jai an email (pictured) asking if he had made any progress with the script amendments as myself and Richard were eager to start planning the film further. Although the script amendments were not complete, after seeing Jai during the day we decided to set up a meeting on Thursday to discuss the progress and make further plans.

Jai sent us the script with the changes he made. Some of the characters were cut out as requested and the script was shortened from 12 pages to 8, a good start but still too long for our 2 minute allowance.

Thursday 27th:

On the Thursday, I printed off a copy of the script and we went to meet Jai for 12.00. At the meeting we went through the script changes and basically told Jai to keep going with the script changes so we could cut down the script to a maximum of 4 pages. With the changes Jai made, there were now only 5 characters that we had to find. At the meeting we discussed the locations that me and Richard had found to make sure Jai was happy with what we’ve found, we also discussed possible shooting schedules and what equipment the crew would need. At the end of the meeting we asked Jai to think about character profiles so me and Richard could begin looking for actors and told him to email us at the beginning of next week when he had finished the script amendments. After the meeting me and Richard looked over the script ourselves and decided to try and shorten it ourselves to try and speed up the process. We made our changes and the script was shortened to just over 4 pages (including setting descriptions etc). We took out any unnecessary dialogue and stripped it to the bare essentials in an effort to get something that would fit in to the 2 minute allowance for the film. We showed Jai the script with our proposed changes and he seemed happy with what we suggested. Pictured below: Richard and Jai at the meeting and the script after we made our changes.

After we made the script changes we would focus on finding suitable locations to film. We already had a few places in mind that we had previously discussed and now the script was finalized we could move forward with these locations to see if they were feasible. Richard came up with filming the bar scenes at the pub he works at in Hickling, which isn’t too far away from Melton so would be ideal as myself and Jai agreed to drive wherever necessary (within reason, obviously). Richard asked his boss if it would be alright to film there and he agreed that it was fine so that was already one location confirmed. Bar Location pictured below. The next major location to find was the alley way which, again, we had previously discussed so one day after college we went to have a look and see if it would be suitable for our scene, which it was and as it was public we didn’t need to gain permission to film there, although we did say we would talk to the nearby businesses on the day of filming just to let them know what we were doing. The alley way pictured below is just a 5 minute walk from college so logistically it was exactly what we were after.

With myself and Richard both acting as a line producers on filming days, we agreed to let the crew use our equipment because we would be there and able to supervise. With our cameras and sound equipment, the only thing we would have to book out is lighting equipment which we will do as soon as we know what days we will be filming interior shots.

Week beginning 7th April:

This week myself and Richard concentrated on getting the actors sorted so we could make arrangements for filming dates. The first thing we thought of was to ask Arnie for some actors (he owed us a favor after we filmed for him) so we went to ask him but because he was away on a class trip we left him a note:

Arnie Letter

The following day we saw Arnie and he told us he had mentioned to his class and there were plenty of people interested in helping us out. He gave us a list of names and later that day we went and talked to a few people to see if they would be willing to help us out. We picked the actors we wanted and Richard sent Jack, our main actor, a message via Facebook to see if he was alright to act for us (message shown below).



So now we have the actors and locations sorted, we’re eager to get a filming date in our diary. We emailed Jai to let him know what we had done and where we wanted to go next:

When we return from the Easter break, myself and Richard will look to finalise any arrangements with the actors and have a shooting schedule set up so we can begin the filming process as soon as possible.

Before we returned from the Easter break, I sent Jai an email asking if he and his group were free for a production meeting when myself and Richard returned. We arranged to meet up on the Wednesday at 12.00 to discuss progress in the production and where to go next because we’re looking to begin the filming progress soon. Pictured below are the emails to and from Jai:

7th May:

Myself and Richard are now in the final stages of sorting out the filming process. We have locations in place and actors lined up. We also have an equipment list ready to book out, make-up assistants and a shooting schedule to be confirmed.

Before we confirmed all the details we wanted to make sure this was all OK with Jai and his group so we sent an email just to be sure. Jai seemed a bit unsure on whether or not to go ahead with the project because of the time constraints so we arranged a meeting for 12.00. At the meeting, we had a lengthy discussion about where to go next and after much deliberation we decided not to go ahead with the filming process. We asked Jai to send us an email to confirm the cancellation and pictured below are screen grabs of the emails and pictures of the meeting. After we got confirmation that the shoot would no longer go ahead, Richard sent out a message to our actors (pictured below) to let them know what had happened and the actors understood fully and we left things on good terms. Also pictured below is the final email we sent to Jai that confirms everything had been sorted out and the shoot was cancelled.

(Criteria 4.1 & 4.2) Critical Evaluation:

On reflection, I enjoyed this task. It was interesting to see just how important a producers role is in film making. Even though we were only in charge of a small scale shoot with a handful of people, there was still plenty to think about and arrange which put in to context the sheer scale of a feature length film producer’s role. Although I was disappointed¬† we weren’t able to shoot the film, it’s just one of those things that happens a lot in the industry and did not detract anything from the job me and Richard did. Film and TV productions are cancelled all the time so it is just one of those things. There are plenty of reasons why productions get cancelled or ‘shelved’. Sometimes there is not a suitable crew available, actors unavailable at certain times or even just the timing not being right for public release, for example after 9/11 many films were shelved or cancelled all together because of how the public would react to the plot so soon after the attacks. The films listed below are just a few examples of films that have been cancelled or delayed due to timing.

I was really pleased with everything we accomplished from start to finish. I also made some useful contacts in the production which I plan to use in my own future productions.¬† We did occasionally have some problems with getting in touch with people but nothing that we weren’t able to overcome. If I get the opportunity to produce anything again then I’ll be sure to include everybody at an earlier date. Myself and Richard only met the full group on the final week so there were times when we didn’t have enough people to get all necessary jobs done. In this case it was simply a matter of people not turning up when they were supposed to but in future I’ll be sure to make more of an effort to get all members of the shoot involved as early as possible so the whole production crew are on the same page and up to speed with proceedings. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Richard who was consistently¬† punctual and I definitely look forward to working with him again in our own respective projects.