Tools and Strategies for Production Problem Solving

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Whatever can go wrong will go wrong — that’s Murphy’s Law of film production. In the course of filming, editing, and screening any content, problems are bound to occur that can cause delays or unexpected expenses. A filmmaker has to be an exceptional problem solver if they hope to be successful. 

Fortunately, there is no end to the tools and strategies at your disposal for solving production problems on and offset. From data analytics platforms that help you plan for the worst to the SWOT method of analysis, these resources can help you find solutions. But first, prepare for the worst.

The Problems

Every stage of film production has its common problems and corresponding workarounds. These include everything from weather disruptions to meeting the power needs of an entire crew. Making sure your production doesn't get sidetracked by these issues requires thorough planning.

But how can you plan for every possible inevitability? 

Truth is, you can’t. No one can predict the future, and as they say, even the best-laid plans are subject to disruption from some force or another. Just look at the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and how that transformed the film production process.

In this democratized age of filmmaking, no filmmaker can be expected to have the resources and training needed to fix every issue that occurs on set. Too many things can go wrong, leaving filmmakers and their teams scrambling for a solution. However, having the right tools and strategies in your corner can help smooth the potholes that line the road to a successful film.

The Tools

Like any craftsman, a filmmaker needs the right tools for the job. Filmmaking can be a high-tech business with a plethora of gadgets and software platforms that you can use to help you produce the best possible content. The right equipment doesn't necessarily have to eat into your production budget too much. With equipment designed to withstand problems, you can have a backup plan for any disaster.

Here are three of the most important equipment types for avoiding and solving film production problems:

  • Big Data

Data and its applications are everywhere these days. While you may not think that data analytics would apply to the filmmaking industry, examining trends in audiences, film success, and even weather can help smooth the production process. 

Major movie studios these days are employing data scientists and the tools they use to make more lucrative investment decisions. Legendary Entertainment, for instance, has applied data analytics and artificial intelligence to predict and improve the performance of hits like “Jurassic World.”

  • Durable Equipment

Next, one of your chief concerns should be the durability and versatility of your equipment. You never know when the weather might take a turn for the worst or where technical difficulties might force you to shoot something different from what he had in mind. Your equipment should allow you to be flexible.

Find trusted, weather- and water-resistant equipment for your crew. When traveling, also vet filming equipment rental businesses for backup, just in case. 

  • Plenty of Storage Space

Additionally, you need to be ready to solve the problem of video storage. If you're using actual film, your issue may be physical storage space and your ability to preserve your footage while you work and travel. With digital video, however, the issue is having enough hard drives with enough space on hand to capture everything you need.

For example, three hours of 4K footage takes up about a terabyte of disc space. You should come prepared with adequate storage space for your physical and digital needs. Otherwise, be prepared to be selective with your takes.

The right tools for data analysis, production flexibility, and storage space will fit the needs of your project and crew. Explore rental services and even data cloud solutions to manage these needs against common production disasters.

The Strategies

Next, come to the job each day with a problem-solving mindset. This entails keeping strategies like the following in the back of your mind so that you can more effectively assess the situation when a problem arises.

  • Analyze your production for problems. 

One of the best ways you can solve problems is to prevent them. This is made easier with an analytical approach to the production process, a formula for spotting issues and taking care of them quickly. 

The SWOT analysis is one such strategy that simply entails examining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats — hence the acronym. By completing a SWOT analysis of your production regularly, you’ll be better able to visualize where problems may occur. As a result, you can better prevent issues before they are even issues.

  • Weigh the pros and cons.

Another strategy that can help you assess multiple potential solutions to production problems is known by the acronym RWW. The RWW method asks, “Is it real? Is it worth it? Can we win?” Applying these questions to production problems gives you values with which to judge options and innovations. 

For example, if you have an actor that can’t make it to the set, your options might be to change the scene or postpone filming. By asking yourself if the change is real — or rather, if it’s true to the film — or if a delay is worth it, you can make a more informed decision. This approach helps you more carefully evaluate the pros and cons associated with your problem-solving process. 

  • Be flexible.

Finally, be flexible. While this is easier said than done, a readiness to adjust to production demands as they occur will help you prepare to problem solve. Rather than rigidly conforming to your original ideas, explore how you might go about achieving your vision in a new way.

Potential solutions could mean anything from script changes to post-production edits. As long as you have a willingness to examine your options and be flexible, you can meet production needs more smoothly and with a better attitude.

Problem Solving On Set 

There's no guarantee that one kind of problem or another won’t occur during film production. Like Murphy's Law states, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. However, successful filmmakers are experienced problem solvers that can make just about any situation work for them if they apply the right tools and strategies.

From data-driven software solutions to analytical approaches to on-set problems, you can drive the best possible fix to almost any disaster. Consider these tools and follow these strategies for a better approach to problem-solving during production. 

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About the Author

Jori Hamilton
Jori Hamilton
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to video production, content creation, and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter: @HamiltonJori

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