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Doing A Lot With A Little


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Opening the floor for discussion on this.

 

Let's say 2 productions of equal quality exist. One is made with a standard professional crew of Director, DP, Audio, Grip, the rest.

The other is made with only 1 or 2 people behind the camera with 20% of the budget the first crew had.

 

Do producers/industry people legitimately care if someone can bring the same amount of quality for a staggering fraction of the cost?

 

In my experience the answer is "no".

What do you have to say on it?

Edited by Macks Fiiod
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money doesn't effect content a straight forward a linear way.

 

for example in commercials a lot of the money has to do with needing specific things to happen on a specific day and needing it to run very smoothly - I suppose features are no different actually.

 

For example an 18k's doesn't necessarily give more quality, but if you can't rely on the sun and need to shoot at a specific hour in a large space you may need them to have the shoot go a certain way. If you don't have that ability you will need to work with the sun OR change your plan which will effect the creative approach

 

crew is no different, more crew allows working faster and a proper sound person frees time so a DP or Director don't need to think about it. A true sound person may have more equipment to allow more complex setups (multiple people mic'd for example)

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one of the most difficult things can be arranging the actors on the set when they are needed, scheduling them is not easy at all and if you can't control the lighting it can easily create continuity issues which can only be mitigated with more gear and larger crew (proper g&e , art dept, etc) .

a small crew might do but two man band would be pretty difficult, I think one would need to add at least:

 

-key grip if anything other than plain simple tripod stuff

- ac (less takes needed and faster to work depending on scenes)

-gaffer or best boy (can maybe be combined with key grip OR ac if very easy scenes)

-sound recordist ( I would not combine this with any other dept unless for some documentary stuff)

-makeup person (can maybe be combined with continuity)

-art director

 

so that would be a 7 or 8 person crew minimum I think? depends on what you do of course.

 

Producers hate going over the budget and being behind schedule which would happen all the time if you can't control things properly on set. will need extra days to correct for mistakes and lost light which will be very difficult to arrange with tight actor schedules.

So I think they actually would care quite much... maybe not about the methodical way of filmmaking itself but about the uncertainty it introduces to the production

Edited by aapo lettinen
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Opening the floor for discussion on this.

 

Let's say 2 productions of equal quality exist. One is made with a standard professional crew of Director, DP, Audio, Grip, the rest.

The other is made with only 1 or 2 people behind the camera with 20% of the budget the first crew had.

 

Do producers/industry people legitimately care if someone can bring the same amount of quality for a staggering fraction of the cost?

 

In my experience the answer is "no".

What do you have to say on it?

Whether anyone in production cares about the crew size or not, you run a very big risk when you deliver excellent results under budget with a skeleton crew that, in most cases, require a full crew and a lot more money.

 

The danger lies in the precedent. You inadvertently will create future expectations and you may find yourself asked to do even more with even less later on where the demands really require more than you are being given. Think they'll agree to supply you with your wish list and dream crew then? Think again.

 

They will always set you up to fail and will not believe you when you try to "explain" why in this particular case, you need a 1st a.c. or grip.

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A lot depends on who youre looking to impress.

 

I did a few features with a production group that had the idea if you could pull off even a modest film with almost no money or crew, future investors would be impressed. It didnt work out. At the end of the day, people are impressed with success, they dont really care under what circumstances the film was made, so long as it gets noticed. It has to be good first. Ive worked on a lot of things where Im a one man band and the director is helping me put up lights, the producer is doing sound, and all the gear is borrowed. But Ill only do them if I think the project itself has merit and can lead to something.

 

The warnings about lowering the bar all around, driving up expectations and driving down costs, are real. Often youre put in a position (usualy by the company who put in the lowest bid on the music video) where you dont have the resources to do the job safety, or do it in the first place. Every minor problem becomes an emergency because theres no money to solve it because worked out fine last time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My experience:

 

Producers want DP's who can deliver. If they deliver under the circumstances the producer's create for them, then the DP will get hired again for that Producer under the same expectations and circumstances. A good producer will know what they can expect in terms of quality from their budget/schedule. A bad producer won't.

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