One week to shooting The Lake

Script Frenzy has taken a major back burner as we’re in heavy preproduction for The Lake. The shoot dates are Tuesday 26 to Thursday 28 April, with a pick-up/ADR day to be confirmed. It’s been crazy trying to confirm final crew roles. I’ve given myself a few hours today to finalise equipment bookings, sort out the catering budget (25 people on set!), car pooling to and from sets, and assorted other stresses. We have two days of filming at The Lake, and one day of interiors. We’ve been busy working out a contingency plan in case it rains (which the Metservice suggested it will – weather, please don’t. TIA.)

Preparation for the shoot has been a long time coming. The core production team of Lee (writer), David (director), and me (producer) have been working on this film for nearly 2-and-a-half years. We’ve been fundraising and rewriting and scouting (and delaying), and have managed to raise nearly $5000 for Production.

We would have loved to have raised $10,000, which would have meant that we could pay the crew as well. Unfortunately with such a low-budget film, that was not possible. We’re extremely fortunate to have a wonderful and dedicated crew who are working for the love of it.

[I started to type about the NZ Film Industry, how crew work for free, gaining experience and networking. Then, once productions can afford to pay crew, filmmakers will hire the people they enjoyed working with who previously worked for free. I was then going to talk about the merits and deficiencies of that arrangement – which would have opened a can of worms that I will open another time.] I will say that, when we get $10,000 for the next film, I know who I’ll approach first to be on the crew.

We have had a large stress recently when one of the actors, one week before the shoot, demanded payment in full, in advance of the shoot. (We had made a decision early on to pay the actors.) Note that no one, especially on low-budget short films, gets paid in advance of doing the work. Filmmakers have to protect ourselves also; if people are paid in advance, what happens if/when they don’t show up to the shoot? That said, I noted that payment in advance was uncommon, yet relaxed our policy to offer to pay half in advance and half at the end of the shoot, and personally guaranteed that payment would happen. The actor refused and advised me in no uncertain terms ‘pay me the full amount in advance or find yourself another actor’.

Said actor is now no longer involved with the production. I would express exactly what my thoughts are towards said actor, but that would not be polite.  The film has a low budget, and only the actors are getting paid. We are currently confirming another actor, whom I’m sure will be happy to be paid once the work is done.

Published by phetheringtonnz

Film Producer, Director, Lecturer. From NZ based in London.

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