Developing a Hands-On Detail-Oriented Leadership Style for a Successful Shoot

By Gini Graham Scott

Different producers and directors have different leadership styles in organizing a film shoot.  It is helpful to look at your own style and notice what works or doesn’t for you.  Generally, if you want to have a smooth-running, well-organized and well-cast shoot which results in a high-quality short film it is better to develop a more hands-on detailed leadership style.  When you have a more leave-it-to chance, let’s just go out and shoot type of approach you have more of a risk of things going wrong, such as people not showing up or showing up late, not having the equipment you ideally want for your film on hand, and having actors who don’t know what they are doing.

 I have found a hands-on detail-oriented style works well based on about three dozen one-day low-budget short film shoots which I organized and produced to film short scripts which I have written.  To this end, the production involved several phases, including:

– preparing the script for production by determining the number of shooting locations, scenes, and approximate times for the different scenes;
– recruiting, auditioning, and casting actors;
– recruiting and coordinating the crew;
– making sure that everyone shows up for the shoot;
– obtaining the necessary equipment and props;
– working with the director/director of photography on the day of the shoot to make sure things go smoothly.

Then, on the day of the shoot, the producer might take on these roles as well:
–       making everyone feel comfortable,
–       advising actors about their scenes,
–       getting release forms,
–       making arrangements to slate the scenes and takes by a P.A. or doing it yourself,
–       providing everyone with lunch,
–       taking still photos on the set
–       working with the editor to edit the film

In short, there are many different tasks to be performed for a successful shoot, so it is helpful to be very organized to keep the various elements of the production together from the pre-production phase, which involves doing everything before the actual shoot and during the production.  Then, unless the director/DP is going to edit the film and wants to be left alone to do this, with you only providing some suggestions and feedback, it is good to continue this hands-on, detail oriented style in working with the editor, and if you do your own editing, being very detailed editor comes with the territory.

Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low Budget Short Film
The Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low-Budget Short Film is a comprehensive step-by-step overview of how to complete and promote a low-budget short film. It begins with how to write a short script, keeping in mind the goal of shooting it in one or at most two days.

It discusses how to finalize your script by getting feedback and then preparing it for production through doing a scene breakdown and possibly a storyboard. It describes how to direct the film yourself or work with a director, audition the actors and cast the short, plan for and participate in the shoot, and work with an editor to finish your film. Finally, it discusses how to get your film shown, including entering it in festivals, and concludes with an extensive list of resources and references, including books, articles, script and storyboard software, conferences, expos, festivals, and more. Available for purchase here.


Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on November 3, 2011, in Film & TV and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: