Planning production can be stressful enough when you’re making a short film and squeezing every penny. So let’s take a bit of the stress out by minimising your crew.
Planned properly, you can have a completely successful shoot with only 5 crew members.
We’re going to go through each 5 crew members, plus a few variables that will affect your shoot and your crew.
Such a streamlined crew will require planning. A producer is also needed to budget and schedule effectively, as well as plan distribution and release.
On set, the producer can morph into the 1st AD role, keeping the project to schedule and staying on top of the shoot as a whole. And lastly, dealing with any issues or problems.
This is a fairly obvious one. You’ll often hear, ‘no director, no film’. It’s 100% true, but that saying can also apply to every crew member on this list.
The director will work with the DOP prior to the shoot to go through the script, and storyboard for the shoot. They will also work with the producer before the shoot to finalise the schedule and shooting plan. That leaves the director free to focus on working with the actors and getting the shots they want.
Director of Photography
Unless the director fancies being super ambitious, a DOP is vital for a visually-satisfying film.
They will also source or provide the camera equipment and any lighting equipment needed.
The DOP should work with the director before the shoot to finalise visual plans and to make sure they are on the same page as the director.
They should also work with the producer prior to shooting so the producer can insure the equipment if needed, and prepare for any issues that might come up during the shoot.
It cannot be stressed enough how vital good sound is for a film of any kind. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 5 minute short made for £100 or the next big blockbuster, sound can make or break a film.
Don’t skimp on a good sound recordist that will provide or source good quality equipment.
Now this one might be a bit of a surprise. A runner can be extremely useful during a shoot to help carry bags, set up equipment, grab coffees or buy sandwiches. As every other crew member is essential to the shoot, having a runner can be exceptionally helpful.
But this is also the variable role. If you’re only shooting in one location, you might not need a runner.
Variables and Alternatives
What are some other options you can choose from, and what will be best for you? It depends on your shoot.
A camera operator might be needed if you have a lot of equipment or set ups.
A separate 1st AD might be useful if your producer isn’t able to jump into the role during the shoot, or doesn’t have any experience in that role. The producer can then take over the runner role and keep the smaller moving parts of the shoot going.
A hair and make up artist might be needed if you have any extreme make up looks.
A gaffer might be required if you’re shooting in winter and have to rely on lighting for most of your shoot.
Which crew members have been essential for you and your films? Leave a comment or dm me.
Walk through the production process for your film with me (for free) here.