PRODUCING LINE BY LINE WITH ANGELA SOSTRE
Line producer Angela Sostre found time to spare from her busy shooting schedule to stop by our offices and give our members the low-down on breakdowns and budgeting for films near the $1.5M range. Here is some of her advice:
Prep With Your Line Producer
Having a healthy amount of time for prep is essential. A line producer needs at least four to six weeks to prep a project. They should be as specific and accurate as possible. A lot of people only create a topsheet – don’t do it! Have a true professional prepare a schedule and budget for your project. Determine how many days you can realistically have up-front, as well as day-out-of-days and stunts – this way, you can determine how you will hire. During prep, a line producer’s goal should be to wrap the producer’s mind around the film’s financial and logistical needs so much so that the producer can recall any detail to investors.
Expensive Script Elements That Get Cut
So you wanted a $1.5M film but you wrote a $2M script? In that case, creative discussions will begin and something must be trimmed. This almost always improves the script because it forces you to tighten things. Here are some common examples:
If you are non-union, the challenge is getting crew in LA to work for minimum wage. Teamsters are the highest paid on non-union sets – even higher than producers sometimes. Some producers I know are afraid of teamsters and avoid them altogether. This is a shame because teamsters have often shared with me their frustrations over this fear coming from independent filmmakers, saying that they would love for indie filmmakers to come and talk to them. Ask them for advice on what to do and how to work with them. If you’re going non-union, you have to strategize from the beginning and hire people you trust.
Budgeting Locations & Hiring Locally:
First off, schools are one of the most expensive common locations. Budget for them immediately. As for shooting in residential homes, a house in Los Angeles rages anywhere from $1,000 – $5,000. If, for example, you decide shoot in Georgia instead, your total location budget could be extremely low – like the $500 it cost us to shoot a film there!
When working out-of-state, don’t feel like you are trapped in terms of hiring a local crew, because you ultimately want to find the best person. Research their experience. A local line producer may have worked on a lot of films, but those films may have been in the $50,000 range and they are not ready to do a $1M film.
How To Become A Line Producer:
Start off as a production coordinator and find a line producer that you can mentor under. Over time, they will give you more and more responsibility. Get in with someone who sees your potential. Master software such as EP’s Movie Magic and a calendar system that works for you (ex: google calendar) so that you can learn to keep everybody connected to one another.
–by Lee Jameson for Film Independent
April 17th, 2012 • 2 Comments