#pre-production

Writing Parameters

COVID-19 Protocols

To help with mitigating risk, students will be provided with specific writing parameters that are appropriate to the level of production, including in some cases a reduced page count and limits on quantities of characters and locations. Due to students on earlier projects having less on-set experience and less time for preparing each show, introductory-level films will have stricter writing parameters than advanced-level films.

F1 Parameters

  • Three pages
  • One location, written for a specific location
  • Two characters, written for specific actors
  • No actions that require actors to be closer than six feet
  • No actions that might typically require an intimacy coordinator, such as nudity or physically sexual situations
  • No children
  • No animals
  • No weapons

D1 Parameters

  • Two pages
  • One scene
  • One location, written for a specific location
  • Two characters, written for specific actors
  • No actions that require actors to be closer than six feet
  • No actions that might typically require an intimacy coordinator, such as nudity or physically sexual situations
  • No children
  • No animals
  • No weapons

F3, BTH, D2, MTH Parameters

  • No additional writing parameters
  • Students, however, should be mindful of the practical limitations of production when writing: e.g., only being able to shoot at one location each production day.

Crew Drills (BTH) – Fall 2020

The purpose of the crew drills is to practice working in each of the crew positions. Don’t get too caught up on trying to make the “perfect” scene. Keep it really simple. BFA3 department heads mentor those in their department, as follows:

  • 1st AD mentors both 2nd ADs
  • 1st AC mentors both 2nd ACs
  • Key Grip mentors both BBGs

Food will not be provided, so make sure you plan accordingly. You have a 1-hour lunch break, so either bring your own lunch or plan to go out nearby. Just make sure you’re back in time.

Crew drills will take place on the set in Stage A.

Crewing

BFA3 will complete the Crew Drill grid together as a class. There are 8 BFA3 positions for each drill. This will give each of you an opportunity to mentor the BFA2 and get to know them better. This also gives you a chance to get your hands on the gear again to reignite that muscle memory.

BFA2 will work the 3 positions (2D, 2C, BG) in pairs. One of the 2Ds and one of the 2Cs will start off as Actors for the first half of the drill. Then they will swap, and the other 2D & 2C will be the Actors. The BGs will remain working in pairs during the entire drill.

Production

The production will have 3 hours to unload the van, block, rehearse, build, shoot, and wrap.

Plan on having 6 total setups. Once you have shot the first 3 setups with the first 2D/2C Actors, swap them with the other 2D/2C Actors. Have the Director modify the blocking, the 2C lay down new marks, and then reshoot the scene with the other 3 setups.

  • 1st New Deal 0:10
  • Camera on set 0:30
  • Lighting complete 0:40
  • Start Shooting 0:45
  • Swap Actors with other 2D/2C pair 1:30
  • 2nd New Deal 1:40
  • Camera Wrap 2:30
  • Company Wrap 3:00

Crew responsibilities

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Director

Before the Drill

  • You will use a scene (or part of a scene) from your BTH script for this crew drill. The script must meet the following criteria (make up a crew drill version if necessary):
    • Must be no less than 1 full page, and no more than 1 4/8 pages in length
    • Must only have 2 characters (no more, no less)
    • Must have dialog (so the Sound Mixer can practice recording it)
    • Keep it simple (no stunts, close proximity, weapons, complicated SFX, etc.)
  • The cast will consist of one of the 2D and 2C pairs, then they’ll swap half way through.
  • Discuss the shot design with the DP.

During the Drill

  • At the beginning of the shift, briefly block with the Actors on the set (keep it really simple).
  • During the New Deal, have the Actors demonstrate the blocking for the crew.
  • Direct the Actors in the scene.
  • Once you have shot the first 3 setups with the first 2D/2C Actors, swap them with the other 2D/2C Actors. Modify the blocking with them, then reshoot the scene with the other 3 setups.
Production Designer

Before the Drill

  • Discuss the production design with the Director (keep it simple).
  • Acquire props, wardrobe, etc (only if absolutely necessary).

During the Drill

  • Dress the set, provide props & wardrobe only if necessary.
Director of Photography

Before the Drill

  • Discuss the shot design with the Director.
  • Create a simple Setup Schedule with 3 setups for each of the 2D/2C Actor pairs, for a total of 6 setups. For example:
    • 1st 2D/2C Actor Pair: 3 setups (1 master + 2 singles)
    • 2nd 2D/2C Actor Pair: 3 setups (1 master + 2 singles)

During the Drill

  • Communicate the setups to the crew.
  • Manage the Camera, Grip & Electric Departments.
  • Once you have shot the first 3 setups with the first 2D/2C Actors, swap them with the other 2D/2C Actors. Have the Director modify the blocking, the 2C lay down new marks, and then reshoot the scene with the other 3 setups.
1st Assistant Director

Before the Drill

  • Get a copy of the Setup Schedule from the DP.

During the Drill

  • At call time, have a Safety Meeting with the entire crew to communicate an emergency plan, location hazards and any production safety concerns. Complete the Safety Meeting Report
  • Get the DR to quickly show the Actors the blocking, while the 2C lays down marks, then call a New Deal.
  • Run the set, making sure the crew is working safely and efficiently.
  • Keep track of your time using the Setup Schedule.
  • Once you have shot the first 3 setups with the first 2D/2C Actors, swap them with the other 2D/2C Actors. Have the Director modify the blocking, the 2C lay down new marks, then call a New Deal
  • Reshoot the scene with the remaining 3 setups.
2nd Assistant Director

During the Drill

  • At the beginning of the shift:
    • Take forehead temperature of each crew member.
    • Have crew sign in using the iPad timeclock.
    • Hand out walkies to department heads.
  • During the shift:
    • Remain in Green Room with the Actors, except to escort them to/from set at 1st AD’s request.
    • During a setup, remain outside the stage doors to make sure no one enters during a take.
  • At the end of the shift:
    • Complete the Performers Production Time Report. Have the Actors sign it.
    • Have crew sign out using the iPad timeclock.
    • Collect walkies and put them back on charger.
All Other BTL

During the Drill

  • Work with BFA3 mentors in your assigned positions.
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QD2 Budget & Reimbursement

The QD2 projects will have the same budget amount that the D2 projects had, which is $396.00. 

Since you are not providing meals & craft services on the QD2, you can use these funds for other production-related expenses. This could include Design elements (set décor, props, wardrobe, etc), or Cine elements (foam core, visqueen, etc), or Production Supplies (cleaning supplies, office supplies, etc).

Directors can use the Budget Template from thesis to help you estimate your production expenses.

There are two ways for you to receive these funds:

Advance

In order to request and advance of those funds, you will need to submit your completed Budget to me, along with the Petty Cash Agreement form.

  • It will take 3-5 days for the funds to be added to your prepaid Visa card, so be sure to plan accordingly.
  • If you do not spend all that you had been advanced, you will need to pay back the balance by writing a check to FSU.
  • You will be responsible for turning in receipts along with a Reimbursement Voucher showing how all the money was spent, due by 5pm on Mon, June 15.

Reimbursement

You can spend your own money, then turn in your receipts for reimbursement along with a Reimbursement Voucher.

  • It will take 3-5 days for the funds to be added to your prepaid Visa card, so be sure to plan accordingly.
  • The deadline for submitting reimbursements is by 5pm on Mon, June 15.

Some important guidelines/restrictions for reimbursement:

  • These funds can only be used for purchasing or renting production-related items. They can not be used for paying for someone’s services, nor for any travel expenses.
  • You will NOT be reimbursed from petty cash for any of the following: alcohol, cigarettes, medication, vitamins, gratuity or tip.
  • All non-expendable items $50 or more become the property of FSU and must be turned in at the end of the cycle.

QD2 Parameters & Schedule

Parameters

Safety:​

CDC/FSU guidelines for social distancing are the minimum guidelines that all students must adhere to in addition to their local/regional rules. It is incumbent upon the student to maintain vigilance regarding local/regional rule changes. If your local/region tightens rules beyond the CDC/FSU guidelines those rules must be adhered to and reported to faculty. If the local/regional rules change to a looser configuration, students still need to obey the CDC/FSU baseline rules.

Collaboration:

Each show will consist of an Director (DR), Editor (ED), and a Production Collaborator (CB) who will provide support in the ATL areas of cinematography, production design, and producing. The Editor must be a remote collaborator (i.e., not somebody who can work in the same physical space as the Director). You can add additional collaborators, but this is the minimum requirement. Each student will cycle through all three positions on different shows. 

Content:

We will mirror the D2 specs: Maximum of 5 pages for the script. Maximum TRT is 05:30. Using VFX, Minors, Weapons, Animals, Stunts, Intimacy permitted, but must be vetted by faculty and follow existing D2 protocols and current safety guidelines. We also want to encourage you to innovate with the form, allowing for different ways of telling stories than a typical D2 would permit. For example, you could combine efforts to each tell parts of a larger narrative (e.g., Part 1, then Part 2, etc.). Or you could make shorts that exist within a shared universe. Or something else that sparks your creativity in new and exciting ways.

Equipment:

Each production will be provided an equipment package consisting of a Panasonic EVA camera, tripod, boom, and Arri lighting kit. Equipment will be made available through curbside pickup for students in town, or shipped to students out of town. Shooting on a different camera (computer camera, zoom, phone, DSLR) is permitted, but must be approved by faculty, predicated on story-based reasons. 

FIST agreement:

Each production will adhere to the FIST production labor agreement. 

Data allocation

Each production is permitted a 20:1 shooting ratio. Based on a 5 page script, this equals 100 minutes of footage. 

Schedule overview

  • Weeks 1-2 Development & Pre-Production
  • Weeks 3-5 Production & Picture Edit
  • Week 6 Sound, Color & Delivery
  • Week 7 Screening

Phases

Weeks 1-2

  • DEVELOPMENT:
    • Each writer/director will work with Julianna to either adapt their previous D2 script to work within the QD2 parameters, or to develop a new narrative script.
  • PRE-PRODUCTION:
    • Crewing – The deadline for forming your production team is 5pm on Friday, May 15.
    • Faculty Supervision – Jed, Julianna, Keith, Marisol, and Tony will be available to support and consult during the entire QD2 process, through both required meetings and on an as-needed basis. 
      • Logistics Meeting (required): Each team will meet with Jed & Julianna to discuss the logistical execution of the film. 
      • Greenlight Meeting (required): Each team will meet with Jed, Keith, and Tony to finalize all logistics and to present all required documents:
        • Cast List and Performance Agreements
        • Location List and Agreements
        • Crew List (if others) and Crew Deal Memos
        • Other documents if required

Weeks 3-5

  • PRODUCTION CYCLES:
    • There will be 3 Production Cycles. In each cycle, each production will have 3 days to shoot the film. Concurrently, the Editor will create an Assembly Edit in Premiere Pro. 
    • Following the 3 production days, the Director & Editor will have an additional 4 days to complete the Picture Edit. 

Week 6

  • SOUND DESIGN:
    • Each director will have 3 days to complete the Sound Design of their own show using Premiere Pro. 
  • COLOR GRADING:
    • Each director will have 1 day to color in Lumetri.
  • DELIVERY:
    • Directors will output the finished film and deliver to CMPA.

Week 7

  • SCREENING
    • The QD2 Projects will have their premiere screening online on Thursday, June 25. 

Production Paperwork

Additional Photography

VFX Scope Checks

During the development process of the F3, BTH and MTH cycles, there are a series of VFX scope checks, to make sure that shows are not writing checks that cannot be cashed. The Head of Visual Effects sends out a survey near the start of development to assess how many shows are considering visual effects. In-person meetings follow for shows that are considering visual effects. Near the end of the development phase, as shows enter pre-production, proof-of-concept meetings take place, wherein students show tests to demonstrate how they plan to execute any planned visual effects.

Director’s Prep (BTH)

Before the prep day:

No later than noon on the day before the prep, the Producer is responsible for sending a clean copy of the script (with scene numbers) in PDF format to each member of the faculty thesis committee.

On the prep day:

In order to go as paperless as possible, everything except the screenplay will be presented digitally on the classroom monitor. Be sure to download any materials to the desktop computer for presentation.

Hard copies of the screenplay — with title page, scene numbers and lined script — will be handed out at the beginning of prep to each member of the faculty thesis committee.

If there are any VFX shots or if a camera other than the primary assigned thesis
camera is planned to be employed in the production then the hard copy signed
VFX approval forms must be shown to the Thesis supervisor.

The presentation will include:

  1. The Producer’s visual presentation file
  2. The Director’s visual presentation file
  3. The Director of Photography’s visual presentation file
  4. The Production Designers’ visual presentation file
  5. The screenplay with scene numbers and the beat-by-beat breakdown
  6. The UPM breakdown script
  7. The production board (header board and a strip for each scene in shooting order)
  8. The shooting schedule

In addition to the above requirements the Cinematography, Editing and
Production Design faculty may require additional items in either electronic or hard
copy form. Please see those faculty members for additional requirements.

Be sure that all above requirements are ready and provided to the appropriate
faculty members at the time the prep is scheduled to begin.

Director’s Prep will occur in four separate sections and in the following order:

  1. Presentation of the movie.
  2. Faculty Q&A.
  3. Presentation and discussion of storyboards.
  4. Creation of an action plan.

The producer, director, production designer, cinematographer and 1st A.D. must
attend the prep. (The production team may determine that the attendance of
other crewmembers is necessary, and may invite them to prep as needed.)

Section I — Presentation of the Movie

The purpose of this section is to give the thesis film’s producer, director,
production designer and cinematographer an opportunity to present the film to
the faculty – uninterrupted. We will start the prep with the director addressing
any notes addressed or not addressed after concept prep. After that, both
cinematographer and production designer will do their presentations.

Let images speak for themselves in both cases.

Address the Cassavetes experience, and also if any information regarding the
crew drills exercises: please share with us any findings, what you learned.

Producer will do the final presentation, showing the temp strip board and a brief
resume of it.

Students will make presentations to the faculty in the following order:

1. The Producer will introduce the title of the film, and the crew positions held by every student in Director’s Prep. This should be done quickly, and without formality; it’s intended to give the faculty an orientation to who is doing what.

2. The Director will present a outcomes of concept prep, and what has changed/has been achieved. Then a quick visual pitch of the story to the faculty. The Pitch should be in story order and be supported by visual slide, which illustrate the essence of the directors vision for each moment of the pitch. The director will also present their casting choices, with audition videos ideally, exercise and only as last resource with stills.

Remember that these are images that you have found and or created for visually illustrating your pitch of the story. The images are meant be representational of “key story beats” to illustrate and evoke the feeling of the moment in your story.

The most important thing is that you TELL the story as a storytelling, using the images as background support for your PITCH.

3. The Production Designer will continue to present a brief visual illustration of the major design aspects as it relates to the world and characters of the film.

The presentation will begin with the world in which the story takes place. The presentation should include:

  • Photos representing the locale of the story.
  • Photos of every actual location the action will occur.
  • Photos of any key elements (such as picture vehicles).

After locations, the Production Designer will present photos and/or actual examples of key props/set dressings and the wardrobe for the main characters, with a focus on how the wardrobe helps illustrate the history, emotional construction and objectives of each main character. The presentation should include:

  • Photos or illustrations of the characters wardrobe/hair/makeup.
  • Any particularly relevant props and/or set dressing.

The Production Designer’s presentation should emphasize how the design of the world will illustrate – or serve – the overall expression of the story and its main characters (who they are and what they want).

4. The Cinematographer will present a three-to-four minute illustration of the “Cinematographic Plan” of the film. To show found and/or created photos and videos (including the Cassavetes workshop scene), the Cinematographer will demonstrate how color, light, shadow and visual language will illustrate the story. The presentation should include:

  • Visual References: Present an illustration of the visual plan for the film. You may also include movie clips (website link), paintings, stills, artwork, AC articles, anything that visually echoes the story’s look/visual mood. These references should reflect lighting ideas, contrast ratios, color, camera movement and shot design.
  • Mood: In writing, identify the emotional intent of the film and be prepared to explain the visual elements you plan on incorporating in your cinematography that support the emotional intent of the director. Describe any changes in mood and how you plan to support, enhance, underscore visually.
  • Format: Please describe your format choice/s. Please delineate your reasons behind each format choice. This applies to both framing formats (16×9(spherical), 2.4:1(widescreen) and digital capture formats (4k, 2k, DSLR, RED Lake, Etc.). Note any camera systems utilized other than RED should be a colored storyboard to indicate VFX and be prepared to discuss the story-based reasonings of this additional camera system.
  • Color Temperature Plan: Describe all the different lighting environments and the scene(s) that are set within that environment. For each of these major environments, write a brief description of how you plan to balance the scene/sequence’s color temperature.
  • Exposure/Filtration Plan: Outline a general exposure plan for each major lighting environment within you story. Note proposed shooting stops, expected footcandle readings at middle grey, expected ISO setting and contrast ratios you are aiming for associated with each environment. Also indicate any filtration you intend to use and the reasons why.
  • Specific Production Challenges: Describe any major lighting, rigging, power, location and/or camera challenges that need larger development and be prepared to explain how you propose to overcome these challenges.

5. The Producer will return with a three-minute presentation going through the Production board scene by scene in shooting order with the planned CALL and WRAP times for each shooting day including the plan for the use of any overtime.

As the producer goes through each day they should discuss all pre- production accomplishments and challenges related to each scene, with a plan for how the team will meet each challenge.

The Producer should focus on all concerns that any objective person
would have about the production (e.g., a difficult location, an exotic
animal, a dangerous activity, etc.). The goal is to anticipate the faculty’s
concerns and address them before the Q&A begins.

Section II – Faculty Q&A

Faculty will ask students questions related to the presentation of the film in Section I. Students must be prepared to address in detail every story, script and production concern the faculty may have. The First Assistant Director will take notes during this section, making certain to document every faculty concern and related resolutions. It is important that the 1st A.D. has a complete understanding of any and all topics of discussion (the production team will rely on the 1st AD’s notes to address concerns after Director’s Prep). So the 1st AD should be prepared to stop the Q&A at any time for clarification.

This section will take as long as necessary for the faculty to have a complete
understanding of the story, screenplay and production. (The directing faculty
member will watch time and make certain to end this session with enough time to
accomplish the next section.)

Section III – Presentation and Discussion of Storyboards

The purpose of this section is to give the director an opportunity to present the
film to the faculty – frame-by-frame. Storyboards will be presented as a visual
representation of how the film will play when it’s completed (e.g., the first
storyboard should be the first image in the completed film), and SHOULD NOT
be presented as a representation of coverage.

Directors will present storyboards one scene at a time – uninterrupted – describing the action and dialogue that happens in each frame. After each scene, faculty will ask questions and raise concerns. All other production members should be prepared to participate in the answers to the faculty’s questions. Directors will continue to the next scene only after all of the faculty’s questions/concerns have been addressed.

Any storyboard that depicts a camera angle that is intended to be shot as a
visual effect, or is intended to be shot with a camera that is different from the
primary thesis camera issued, must be either scanned from a yellow page or
paper or have a large yellow banner applied under it in the Prezi.

The First Assistant Director will take notes during this section, making certain to document every faculty concern and related resolutions. It is important that the 1st A.D. has a complete understanding of any and all topics of discussion (the production team will rely on the 1st AD’s notes to address concerns after Director’s Prep). So the 1st AD should be prepared to stop the Q&A at any time for clarification.

Section IV – Creation of an Action Plan

The 1st Assistant Director will review with faculty and students every problem identified during prep. Together, faculty and students will determine who will be responsible for solving each problem before production begins. The 1st AD will create a list of these problems and responsible persons, which will become the “Action Plan.” Before the end of the day, the 1st AD will email the film’s Action Plan to each member of the faculty participating in the Director’s Prep. In the days following Director’s Prep, everyone will work to complete the Action Plan.

Prior to the first day of production, the 1st AD will email the completed Action Plan to the faculty, with a description of the resolution(s) for each problem identified.

If the action plan is not complete and submitted 12 hours before the first shooting
day’s call time then the show will be penalized by the reduction of some or all of
the shows overtime/PU days/special equipment privileges to be determined by
the faculty production supervisor.

Concept Prep (BTH)

Presentation

This is the opportunity for the directors to share their vision, and for the producers to share their plan with the Thesis Faculty. This whole section should last no more than 15 minutes.

  1. Director will Pitch the current story to Faculty that have read the script. Please be concise and to the point. What is this film about? A 5 minute retelling of the script is not a pitch.
  2. Director will show the BEST take of the top two actors that you are considering for the LEAD Roles of the film. If you are able to, show rehearsals, or something that gives us more insight.
  3. The Director will show images of actual locations, which demonstrate the WORLD of the film.
  4. The Director will Show lighting examples which illustrate the overall MOOD of the film.
  5. The Producer will give a logistics status report and summarize the overall Production Plan. This is an important part of the prep, so please do address problems and solutions.

Discussion

Finally, the team should be prepared to answer any questions related to these items.
We shall start asking any questions about story, and after that we shall move ahead with actors, questions about images, and so forth. Of course sometimes are all intertwined, but after the presentation we will start with questions about story.

Data Allocation (D2)

Below is the data allocation for each production. If you would like to request additional data (e.g. for slow motion), you must present the Data Allocation Approval form at the Director Prep, and get approval from the Prep faculty. Then submit to the Head of Production for final approval. 

Format Helium 7K HD
Frame Rate 24fps
Data per minute 6 Gb/minute
Final Draft Page Count 5 pages
Shooting Ratio 20:1
Shooting Days 2 Days
Pages per day 2.5 pages
Estimated data per day 300 Gb
Estimated data per page 120 Gb
Maximum Dailies Length 100 minutes
Maximum Dailies Size 600 Gb

Budgets (D2)

Lunch & craft

For each live action show, a dollar amount is provided for every assigned crew member, plus two actors and one volunteer:

  • $8.00 per head lunch catering for 15 crew members and 3 actors or volunteers (18 people total ): $144.00 per day.
  • $3.00 per head craft service for 15 crew members and 3 actors or volunteers (18 people total): $54.00 per day.

Therefore, the total allocation for lunch and craft service is $396.00.

The amount of money allocated to each film is a set amount. It does not shrink if the crew gets smaller and it does not increase if you add volunteer crew or actors. This amount is allocated as part of the necessary budget the school provides, based on the scope of the production.

Food budgets are allocated to live action productions only and are considered part of the “Provided Production Costs” because meal time is regulated and crew members are not allowed to leave set.

You may use the total funds for food in any way you wish, as long as it goes only to catering and craft service. This is a “use-it-or-lose-it” budget.