What Happens When Filming Takes Too Long?
Making a film is already difficult enough. Whether it be a short or a feature, you’re going to face several obstacles throughout the creation of both, some that aren’t expected. Equipment failures, location issues, sound issues, scheduling conflicts and financing issues to name a few.
No matter the issues faced, it’s important to continue to move forward with your project. Hit that reset button, regroup and show up once again for your cast, your crew and most importantly for yourself. Remember, it’s one day, one page, one scene at a time. You will get to the end, so long as you keep moving forward. Never stop moving forward.
In the resilience of your film endeavor, you’re going to face another issue that you may not have thought of. An obstacle so detrimental that it could be the crippling blow that finally brings your project to a halt. The obstacle I speak of is time and it’s not on your side.
When filming independently and on a budget, it’s likely that you won't be able to shoot during the week. Leaving only the weekends for you to pursue your goals, your shooting days are going to expand a few months. Let’s take this a little further and add in the scheduling conflicts you’re inevitably going to face. Your project just went from 2-3 months of filming to 4-6 months of filming really quickly.
This expanded timeline poses several issues, the first of which being the changing seasons.
Sure, if your entire film is shot with interiors then this really isn’t an issue. With that said, how many films are ONLY using interior locations? I’m not saying it can’t be done because it certainly has in the past, but why do it if you don’t have to?
If you start your film in June and shooting extends into October or November, you’re going to have to deal with the changing of the seasons. Not an issue if you film all of your exteriors at one time, but if you don’t, if you miss a scene or if you add one, it’s going to affect you.
Your film opens up with an exterior shot of lush green trees and our main character walking through a beautiful neighborhood. Next, our protagonist stops to have a conversation with the neighbor. With the brown grass and trees that are red in the leaves, something just isn’t right.
There’s a few ways to avoid this problem. First, focus on your exterior shots up front. List out all of your exterior scenes, get them scheduled around the same time and get them knocked out. This will help you to avoid the issue all together. Forgot a scene or need to add a new one? Then it’s time to get creative.
If you missed an exterior scene and you’re now shooting into fall, you’ll need to find a creative solution to your problem. Can you change the scene to an interior? Can you play with the camera angle, not showing the changing of the season? Can you remove the scene entirely without affecting the overall story? Can you fix it in post? I don’t recommend this last one.
Point being, this is a real problem you will likely face and there is a solution. Take a moment, take a breath and just think. Think about a solution. Find a way around this obstacle and keep moving forward. In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor issue. Especially since there’s a greater issue that lies ahead.
Look, nobody wants to work on the same project for 10 months. Yes I’m exaggerating a bit, but some films do span the greater part of a year. When people work on the same material for too long, they start to get “The Itch.” A need to change, to move on, to finish.
Burnout is part of “The Itch”. People may not feel it, but you’ll be able to see it. On day one of shooting, you can feel the excitement, you can see it. Smiles on faces and stars in everyone's eyes, there’s hope in the air. Fast forward to day 20 of filming...It’s business as usual. Losing its luster, we simply fight just to get through the days.
Another side effect of “The Itch”, scheduling conflicts. This issue pops up throughout the film but it becomes more prevalent as the days go on. Once fully devoted to your project, you’ll start to see actors booking new roles, focusing their efforts on new projects, a renewed excitement in their eyes. Don’t let this bother you, it’s a good thing.
Be happy for others' success. Cheer for them, celebrate, be excited for the opportunities your family receives. Yes, I said family because at the end of a film, that’s what y’all will become.
The final side effect of “The Itch”, physical change. Again, as filming drags on, spanning several months, you could face a physical change in your actors. Weight gain, weight loss, hair length, beard length, etc.
Something you may not have once considered but, nobody wants to keep the same look for 10 months. If an actress is playing a character with a shaved head, do you think she really wants to walk around with a shaved head for a year? It’s not likely.
Appearance changes shouldn’t happen when filming, but they do. Again, it’s time to get creative. Can the appearance change be fixed or covered up? Can you write around it? Can you remove a scene entirely? There is a solution, you just need to find it.
The theme of this post is to simply keep moving forward. Making a movie is difficult, a process that takes time. You’re going to face obstacles along the way and it’s important to slow down, take a breath and just think about your problem. There WILL be a solution. You just need to find it, execute and keep moving forward.
At the end of the day, you need to finish the movie. You HAVE to finish the movie. It’s what you set out to do.