the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

Production Management for Feature Films - Modularised Course

In association with Creative Skillset Film Skills Levy.

Delivered by Addie Orfila

Production Managing is challenging, exciting and a critical role for any production. Making the step up to PM can be daunting for any PC as you hone your already excellent organisational and logistical skills further and develop your managerial and leadership abilities. Whatever genre you work in, this modular course will furnish you with a thorough knowledge base of the critical skills necessary to become an excellent and effective PM. Using interactive seminars, practical exercises, workshops and industry examples, you will come away a strong foundation with which to build your career further and excel as a PM. It is suitable for Production Coordinators, 1st AD's and other grades wanting to move into the role of Production Manager.

Course content: The course consists of five modules to be run across five days. Course participants can pick and choose the number of modules to attend, dependent of experience and development requirements.

Module 1 – Introduction

In this module, attendees will look at the role of the Production Manager - how the role differs across individual companies, but is essentially the same. There is no singular route into the PM role, and you will look at a range of grades that can move up, or across to PM. This module is aimed at giving a full overview of the role in all contexts, covering:

  • pre-production,
  • production,
  • post production
  • delivery stages and what you will have to do across whichever film you work on.

You will understand how to identify key departments and then the roles within them throughout a production, and relationships between PM’s and other key roles such as HoD’s, 1st A.D.’s, Producers. This will enable you to understand how you can break down department costs, and work collaboratively to reduce costs, as well as recognizing the interdependency of roles, and how each impacts the other. Critically you will learn the importance of communication to getting the best from everyone. The module is delivered in an interactive manner, with practical based exercises to get you working through possible scenarios, breaking down scripts and costs to fully understand implications of the role and it’s many aspects.

In addition, you will look at shooting formats, and implications for the production, and how to work with post production to ensure deliverables are achieved, reporting and clearances. Practical aspects include script breakdowns, using a selection of scripts from drama, budgets and the need for rigor and attention to detail when working through scripts to ensure you cover all eventualities.

Module 2 – Budgeting and Contracting

In this module, you will look at how you balance creativity with practicality, the key function of a good Production Manager. You will look at the drivers of budget on a production, and think about problem solving to maintain high production values within budget constraints, providing options for the production. As a PM, your focus is working with the budget to achieve the aims of the creative teams. Real film examples are used to give an overview of what levels of budgets may be employed across various genres, and a look at how those budgets are broken down into above and below the line costs. This will give you insight into where real costs of production are and how quickly costs can mount up across major productions. Activities will include looking at sources of funding and income/investment for the feature film, along with a look at Tax Relief incentives and their application, and Completion Bonds.

Key elements of this module are:

  • Determining requirements and identifying critical elements of the budget
    • Scripts
    • Shooting format
    • Post Production
    • Schedules
    • Deliverables
    • Clearances (music, archive footage etc)
    • Department Heads
    • Discussing live budgets and how they are put together, and cost centres
    • Guest Speaker – Production Accountant who will talk about forecasting, additional costs and daily incurrences
    • Controlling and Tracking Costs
    • Working with Cast and Contracting effectively
    • Working with Children and Young People
      • Hours
      • Licensing
      • Chaperones
      • Tutors
      • LEA and legal authorities

Module 3 – Health and Safety, Risk and Stunts

In this module, you will cover:

  • Health & Safety
  • Risk Assessments
  • Accident Reporting
  • Stunts and set builds
  • Legal Reqs and Insurance
  • Guest Speaker: Location Manager
  • Contracts

Using your personal experiences, you will look at this key aspect for Production Managers, identifying areas of concern, as well as using video of risk and incidents, to raise knowledge of critical factors in assessing risk and how to mitigate them. Using practical exercises, you will work through scenarios to assess and identify risk, working with Health and Safety advisors at all stages of development and production, across a range of areas. This will lead to Risk Assessment and use of a Risk Matrix, and how to work with your cast and crew to ensure everyone is briefed and understands their role. It will also cover some aspects of how you can manage situations, and measures you can implement to reduce the risk hazards. This will include reporting and recording incidents, legal requirements, and where to get further advice and support around managing risk.

The Guest Speaker on the day will be a Location Manager, who will discuss the Health and Safety implications for Location shoots, and the necessities of working closely with a Location Manager to understand your environment, and ensure it has been properly assessed for accessibility, health and safety and suitability for the production.

The final part of the day is dedicated to stunts, working with pyros and stunt teams, culminating in assessment for insurance and implications of the correct cover for all aspects of the production, including working with legal teams.

Module 4 – Working with your Team and Post Production

In this module, you will cover:

  • Working with Directors
  • Managing Upwards (and sideways): The Interdependency of roles
  • Post Production: Ingest to Delivery
  • Deliverables and Clearance
  • Line Managing your Team Effectively
  • Working Positively under Pressure

A key element of the role of Production Manager is working with people, across all areas, to get the best from teams, but also more importantly to ensure the project is delivered within budget and to deadlines. This often means managing upwards, sideways and downwards, ensuring all roles are communicating, working together to deliver on the film. The successful relationship between the PM and the Director is critical to this function, and can often increase pressure to realise their creative vision, whilst maintaining a tight grip on budgets, schedules and practical issues. You will also look at other exec roles in the production hierarchy, and how to manage the to get the best for the production.

Working from Production to Post Production, you will discuss and asses the importance of understanding what you have to deliver, liaising with the Producer at all points. You will also look at scheduling post production, SFX, clearances, Copyright issues etc. Understanding what you must deliver is crucial to ensuring that you achieve all Deliverables, including Key Artwork, Film Posters, Trailers, Permissions, Insurances, Certificate of Authorship to name a few. This leads to managing your team effectively and getting the best from them, looking at your interpersonal skills and dealing with any issues as they arise constructively. The day will end by looking at your personal needs and how you can still work positively under pressure, effective delegation of workloads and tasks, managing time and people, using practical based exercises.

Module 5 – Movie Magic for Scheduling

In this module, you will cover:

  • What determines a schedule?
  • Introduction to Movie Magic scheduling
  • How to breakdown a script on Movie Magic
  • How to create a schedule on Movie Magic

This module is a practical based training session using both paper scripts as well as hands on experience with the Movie Magic software. You will learn how to break ow scripts to schedules, paying attention to detail such as props, wardrobe, special effects and more. Starting with ‘What makes a schedule’ you will build your understanding of dissecting scripts and look at key considerations on what is required in a scheduling. Exercises are delivered with live scripts, as well as training in use of Movie Magic, its component parts and usability, and how you can make the most of the programme to support shooting schedules, ensuring maximum information input to make shoots as effective as possible. As part of this process you will look at the helpful production features for PM’s, enabling you to create schedules quickly and effectively.

New Training in London and the North will be announced soon, with limited numbers of subsidised plaes for members. Keep posted for updates.