The easiest way to make a production schedule for your documentary is to use a dedicated scheduling application like EP Scheduling. It lets you specify the shooting days, the people, locations, props, tools and other resources you will need. EP Scheduling application is the industry standard for scheduling ﬁlms. Instructions for learning how to use the application can be found in the manuals that ship with it.
A free alternative to EP Scheduling can be found online. It is called CELTX. You can search for it on Google. CELTX is a screenwriting application that features a built-in calendar you can use to schedule events. Use it to generate a standard one line schedule, shooting schedule, call sheets, prop lists, etc.
Some people ﬁnd they are able to effectively schedule a documentary using a spreadsheet, or a notebook, to lay out the days and locations they plan to shoot. Some people use index cards, allocating one or more cards for each day.
No matter what scheduling tools you use, you need to specify what guests, crew, equipment, props and vehicles you will need. You will specify what days you and other members of your team are traveling because you will be paying those costs as well.
The schedule for a documentary feature ﬁlm becomes a bible for the production. You need a schedule in order to:
- Calculate your expenses
- Make travel arrangements for yourself, guests and crew.
- Book locations for prep and shooting
- Plan post production, marketing, screening and distribution.
- Calculate how much your documentary is going to cost overall For an odyssey documentary, your schedule may look more like a travel itinerary, a list of of cities and dates with associated information related to travel and accommodation.
You may think that you don’t need to make a schedule for your documentary, but without it you’ll ﬁnd it difﬁcult to create an accurate budget, and without a budget you will ﬁnd it hard to get much funding or ﬁnancing. Furthermore, you will be surprised to discover just how expensive an unscheduled, unbudgeted documentary can be.
A ﬁnal word about schedules . . .
Your schedule will be a work in progress throughout the making of your documentary because timing changes throughout production, distribution and marketing. Nevertheless, a reasonably accurate schedule should become one of your early priorities.
Nothing increases costs like unscheduled shoot days. People are late, equipment doesn’t materialize, locations become unshootable. If you have a team of any size, and you are directing your documentary, consider hiring a 1st AD to help you maintain the schedule and to wrangle locations, guest, crew and equipment based upon it.
Having a 1st AD will allow you to handle the ﬁnancial operations associated with production and the creative decisions associated with interviewing guests so you get the information and answers you need.Tweet
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