As much as everyone jokes about the old adage of “Fix it in post”, it still seems to become the default mentality for so many projects. And yes, there is much we can achieve through post, however is it really as good, cost effective or productive as fixing it up on set?

the good... the bad... the ugly...

So are you a fix it in post or fix it on set kinda person?

After spending some time on the set of independent films, it’s not hard to understand why so many basics can get either be missed or just shortcut. Driven by a tight budget, limited time, crew and equipment all factored to the smallest increment- in order to cram as much into the production as possible.

It’s perhaps too tight in some situations, resulting in compromise and decisions being made on-set in order to keep the schedule on track and to avoid the real prospect of a mutiny.

So is there a smarter or different way to work?

Recently I participated in a seminar with Dov Simens who’s produced a significant number of low budget features, and he presented some very clear guidelines which resounded and confirmed many of my experiences and thoughts. Although I’m a post guy existing at the end of the pipeline, I see and feel every bump that the feature has gone through… so here are a few thoughts.

  • Your DP, Sound Recordist and Editor will become your best friends… don’t under-estimate the importance of the key roles within your team and employ experienced proven talent. Particularly if you’re a first time director, these roles will become your lifeline and help keep everything on track. The technical quality of your final product will really rest on the shoulders of these guys and their ability to perform the tasks required.
  • DIT – this role will become the critical link between production and post production. More than just creating copies of your precious footage, this person should be able to critically examine and pick-up on any potential issues from the production team which will affect post. Whether it be a camera problem, lensing, audio sync, damaged files and much more, the DIT can provide valuable feedback before it’s too late.
  • Have a data plan – before boldly heading into production, ensure you have a clear idea on how your digital picture and sound assets are going to be managed. How many disks you’ll need for triplicate clones, file structures and naming and speed if you’ll be managing large amounts of footage.
  • Post production – starts on-set whether you know it or not. Having your preferred post-production providers involved from pre-production can ensure that any potential risks can be planned and discussed before heading into production. Not only will this bring awareness to the team, but also eliminate costly time overheads and work arounds once the footage lands in the edit suite.

These are just some real basic ideas and thoughts from our experiences and conversations with fellow filmmakers.

For us, we feel strongly about being accountable and conscientious with every dollar being spent on a screen budget and struggle when we see unnecessary resources wasted due to resolvable problems.

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For a bit of fun… buy the “Fix it On-Set” Shirt

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