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Working with Cast and Crew

Contributed By Michelle Christensen

Once your budget is raised and you move towards production, the deal making process with cast and crew begins. If the money is tight you should still go to the big and well established people as they are in the position to support you with good rates. Department heads are hired first and are responsible for putting together their respective teams. The UPM will distribute a copy of the budget along with the script to the department heads. The department heads will review the budget and the script to determine if they will be given enough money to accomplish what is necessary. The budget will go through many revisions before everyone is happy. Department heads should create lists of equipment needs and it should be reserved as soon as possible.

Casting talent should be done as early as possible so that there is adequate time for rehearsals. A casting agent or talent agency may be contacted to provide potential actors. It is common to ask potential actors to read a small part of the script and perform a dramatic monologue or improvisation. It is important to video tape your actor's screen test because some actors come across far differently onscreen. Ideally, the director and the producer will choose the best actor for the part but their decision will be based on many different factors. They must consider the cast as a whole and take into consideration: Are they well known? Do they fit the part? How easy are they to work with? Is there chemistry between the actors? How do they look on camera?

As the film moves toward production, the other crew members (grips, gaffers, stunt coordinators, hairdressers, prop masters, script supervisors, production assistants, etc.) are hired. Hiring the crew should not be rushed and it should be a collaborative process between the producer, director, and the UPM. Care should be taken so that the various personalities mesh. Otherwise, there will be problems later which could cause production delays and inevitably more money.

At this stage, rehearsals and production meetings can begin. All contracts should be negotiated and signed before production begins. By completing the contracts before production begins, cast and crew will know what they are getting into and how much they will be paid which can prevent legal action later.

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