The 10 Day Web Series: Maximizing Your Budget With a Fast & Light Shooting Schedule

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Smaller budget features often have a limited number of shoot days for what a higher budget film might have double or triple the time to shoot. On top of that, a shooting schedule with multiple locations may require moving locations during the course of each shoot day.

On One Bird at a Time, we shot a feature length web series over the course of ten days and worked with a schedule that included two locations a day for the majority of our shoot.

A limited shot list is one of the keys to making this kind of schedule feasible. Because One Bird’s scripts emphasized dialogue and character over action, we went for a naturalistic style which helped us save time while remaining true to the scripts.

We often shot only an establishing wide shot, and then focused on close-ups for the rest of each scene. Any extra shots we were considering were usually thrown out the window for the sake of time. Fortunately, in the editing room, we found we probably wouldn’t have used these anyway as they didn’t cohere with the style that worked best aesthetically for the scripts.

Lighting took the bulk of our extra time, but because of our budget and frequent moves, we had only minimal lights at our disposal. This actually forced us to make careful decisions about the lights we did want to bring along, and the ways in which we could use those as well as practical and natural lighting. The lighting — which included an exterior night shot — ended up being simple but effective for the style of the series.

An easy set-up also makes the process more efficient. Access to locations the day before often means choosing locations that are either donated or already owned by the crew, but sometimes this can save hours of time on a shoot day. For locations we did obtain early access to, our crew could go in and set up the night before. Other locations, particularly exteriors and a few public spaces, we chose because they needed minimal to no set-up, and we could begin shooting almost immediately after lighting.

Having the crew on the same page in terms of overall vision, as well as timing and schedule is also crucial.  By taking extra time in hiring the right crew, and conducting a series of pre-production meetings one-one-one with key crew (Production Designer, DP, etc), we were able to do minimize discussions on set. While as the director, I always reviewed details of design and lighting for each set-up, there were very few times I felt compelled to make significant comments/changes – the agreements and understandings in both overarching vision and specific detail that we had developed in pre-production really paid off on set.

The actors were a large part of the process as well. They were largely brought in early in the process, and rehearsed a number of times. For One Bird, we used improvisation for rehearsals rather than the script, so that the actors could feel comfortable and naturalistic on set. This also paid off for us, as the actors had the scripts a month or more before shooting, and were largely well memorized and had very few questions as to character and motivation at the time of shooting.

Overall, despite the location moves and an ambitious number of pages we shot per day, we were able to produce a full series that looked and felt high quality both artistically and technically. All while maintaining a happy cast and crew who were all in for season two.

Watch the trailer for One Bird at a Time: 

ProductionHUB ProductionHUB Logo

About the Author

Darcy Miller
Darcy is the creator, director, and producer of One Bird At A Time, which will be available to stream beginning October 10. She graduated from Yale and the London Academy of Performing Arts, and studied writing at the New School. Other films include "180 Degrees" (written + executive produced, Portland Film Festival) and "Rise" (written, directed, + co-produced, Portland Film Fest, Apex Film Fest). The script she co-wrote, "Caroline's Wedding," won the 2017 American Zoetrope Grand Prize. She's been an actress since she made her first film at 13, appearing in theatre in NY and London, film, and television.

Related Blog Posts
How A Shoot for Budweiser During COVID-19 Turned into 4 Million Views
How A Shoot for Budweiser During COVID-19 Turned into 4 Million Views
During the COVID-19 shutdown, most productions stopped or went on indefinite hold. I don't know anyone who hasn't lost work or been affected in some way due to the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in the film industry were put at serious risk. But as things continued to drag on, content still needed to be made. It just had to change shape a bit. Spots were made using stock footage. Remote productions began to pick up. And as some states in the US began to open again, the ability to start shooting again, albeit on a smaller scale and with certain restrictions, became possible once more.
Published on Monday, June 1, 2020
Why Home Working Is A Great Opportunity For Creatives
Why Home Working Is A Great Opportunity For Creatives
Among the many nuggets of advice regularly doled out to the average person, “Don’t dwell on the negatives” is one of the most useful, yet it’s also one of the most frequently ignored. We’re tempted to dwell on the negatives because we struggle to control our anxieties, but we also get a simple kick out of complaining. It’s just so easy to focus on everything that’s wrong.
Published on Thursday, May 28, 2020
Tips for Hosting an Educational Screening Online
Tips for Hosting an Educational Screening Online
As CEO of Indieflix, I help provide social emotional learning experiences that have a long and lasting measurable impact. With social distancing becoming our new norm due to COVID-19, IndieFlix decided to make a commitment to creating online solutions for schools and communities during this time of uncertainty. We’ve started hosting virtual screenings of our film-based education events, which include discussion panels and audience Q&A.
Published on Tuesday, May 26, 2020


There are no comments on this blog post.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.