Time Management on Set

Production Schedule-rs

Knowing how to schedule a day (or week) of production sounds like a fairly easy task, right? Just figure out when you want to start and end the day. Probably wrap things up before rush hour kicks in – that sounds great.

However, preparing a crew for a day of production actually takes a lot of logistics and planning– it’s pretty complex. Here’s a breakdown of what it really takes to get a good day’s work done right.

First, you’ll want to determine when the production team should arrive to set up. Our team generally brings a van full of gear – lights, cameras, movement gear, audio and accessories. All this stuff takes time to set up, and this setup time is easy to overlook or forget.

If the first order of business for the day is an interview, conference, or live event, then our team likes to arrive at least an hour before the main event or interview starts. This hour provides enough time to find a good interview location (relevant background, minimal audio issues, and easy to access), move all the equipment from the parking lot to the location, and then set up.

Then, you’ll want to account for travel time between locations. Let’s say we’re filming an interview at the office and then we want to capture some additional footage, or b-roll. Whether we’re capturing that footage down the hall or across town, it takes time to break down equipment at our first location, move from Point A to Point B, and set everything up again. It’s a great idea to keep interviews all in the same area to minimize the time it takes to move lights and cameras for each interview. When the interviews have concluded, we can easily move around from spot to spot to grab b-roll or supporting footage.

Production Schedule 3-rsDon’t forget lunch! Filmmaking is a surprisingly physical job. It’s not uncommon for crew to be moving 100 pounds of gear around all day, and our videographers are holding 10-20 pound camera systems for hours at a time. A meal break lets the crew recharge and provides the energy needed to be efficient and on top of things.

Finally, it’s always beneficial to schedule in a little wiggle room. Schedules are never perfect, and sometimes events or interviews can run a little long – or an event that needs to be captured is running a bit late, which throws the rest of the day off. No worries! Just having an extra hour in the day to account for anything extra allows for a more focused and thoughtful approach to production, rather than a rushed or stressed schedule.

Let me leave you with an example of two schedules. One is an example of great production time management, and the other is guaranteed to run overtime. As always, when in doubt, add an hour.

See you on set!


8:00AM – CREW ARRIVES (not enough time to setup, interview is pushed back 15 minutes) 7:30AM – CREW ARRIVES
8:30AM – 1ST  INTERVIEW (actually 8:45AM, stays on schedule) 8:30AM – 1ST  INTERVIEW
9:00AM – 2ND  INTERVIEW (actually 9:15AM, runs long, ends at 10AM) 9:00AM – 2ND  INTERVIEW
9:30AM – MOVE TO NEXT LOCATION (30 minutes to reset in a new room, ready at 10:30AM) (let’s keep the interview in the same area to save time but get creative with the shots!)
10:00AM – 3RD  INTERVIEW (actually 10:30AM) 9:30AM – 3RD  INTERVIEW
10:30AM – BROLL AT OFFICE (breakdown interview at 11AM, start broll at 11:30AM) 10:00AM – BREAK DOWN AND PREP FOR BROLL
12:30PM – BROLL AT 2ND  LOCATION (1:30PM travel to 2nd location, start broll at 2PM) 10:30AM – BROLL AT OFFICE
(skip lunch, we’re already really behind) 12:30PM – LUNCH AND TRAVEL TO 2ND LOCATION
2:30PM – 4TH  INTERVIEW (actually at 4PM) 2:00PM – 4TH INTERVIEW
3:00PM – 5TH  INTERVIEW (actually at 4:30PM) 2:30PM – 5TH INTERVIEW
3:30PM – BROLL AT 2ND LOCATION (breakdown interview at 5:00PM, start broll at 5:30PM) 3:00PM – BREAKDOWN AND PREP FOR BROLL
4:30PM – WRAP (finish broll at 6:30PM) 3:30PM – BROLL AT 2ND LOCATION
5:00PM – WRAP!
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