A Gal’s Guide to Making a Movie is a new weekly written series by Erin Bagwell. To view the whole series click here.
Part Nine: The Logistics
After the Kickstarter campaign closed at the end of August, I dove into working on the logistics of what needed to happen on set. Here is a rundown of all the details I was doing to prepare for filming:
- Meeting and finalizing the entrepreneurs in the film
- Research. Watching every interview or reading every book by the entrepreneurs so I would know exactly what I wanted them to talk about.
- Deciding what questions, and themes I wanted to learn about on set (more on this later).
- Meeting and hiring the crew, finalizing each of their salaries.
- Finalizing a budget with Mary to spend on equipment, and deciding what equipment to buy, and how long we would rent it for.
- Finding Air B&B apartments to film in (making sure those people knew we would be a film crew with LOTS of equipment and that they would be cool with that)
- Making sure all the entrepreneurs had directions to set, signed their release forms to be in the film (that I found on google), and best practices for being on set.
Now, the most complicated process about this was getting the timing of everything right. For two months I worked on this list. Once Marie Forleo confirmed a date that worked for her, we coordinated the rest of our shooting schedule. I had to make sure all the entrepreneurs where available in the same 3 week span. Each week I would rent a new location to shoot at.
Here is our production schedule for the interviews:
November 5th – Interview Marie Forleo, Interview Komal Minhas
November 6th- Interview Joanne Wilson, Nur-E F, Interview Erin Bagwell
November 7th- Interview Clara Villarosa, Interview Anna Holmes
November 12th- Interview Julie, Interview Crista & Jess
November 13th- Interview Amanda, Suzanne West, Interview Alicia & Linda Villarosa
November 14th- Interview Annie Wang, Adam Quintin
November 19th- Interview Stew Freidman, Interview Natalia
November 21st- Interview Mariama
The day before the shooting would begin, I would take all the rented equipment from my house, rent an UberXL truck, hire 2 people from a website called jackrabbit to help me carry all the equipment to the car. Then I would hire 2 more people to help me carry the equipment from the car up however many flights of stairs into the location. Thankfully, once on location I was able to leave the equipment for 3-4 days, and then after each set the girls would help load up the car and the cycle would start all over again.
To be the first on set I would also usually have Mary with me during this load in time. I would send her lots of detailed photos when I went in person to each space to see it before I booked, it and met each of the land lords to make sure they were cool with us being a film crew and on set. They also all signed release forms before we began filming which was great because at one point one of the landlords got mad at us, but we already got her signature so a huge crisis was averted.
Now you may be thinking, Erin you had to hire two people to help you load all the equipment from your apartment? How much freaking gear did you have?! GALS. I HAD A LOT.
When you are renting cameras, lights, screens, sandbags, audio, c-stands online it’s kind of like being in online shopping cart at Sephora- stuff just gets in there and honestly until Mary and I went and picked it up the first time I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Now, Sal and I live in what I’m going to call a gorgeous shoebox of an apartment. We have one main room that is both a kitchen/living room, and one bedroom. That’s it. So my apartment was literally quite covered from head to two for a month in between shoots in equipment. It was kind of obnoxious, but I didn’t mind. This is what it takes to make your sets look like a million dollar picture, and our footage was flawless.
Now I want to pause our story for a minute here, and talk about a mistake I made right in the beginning. In my brain I thought the most important part of making a documentary was the interviews, that’s why I did them first. I thought they would shape the story and the footage we would got after would orbit around them like planets to the sun.
However, story isn’t driven by dictation, it’s driven by action.
This is very important, so I’m going to say it again: story isn’t driven by dictation, it’s driven by action. Meaning that to create the beginning, middle, and end arch you have to be in motion. We need to see them living it out loud to move the story forward, not hear about in hindsight. The other thing that’s great about waiting to do the interviews (or maybe even scheduling them in every couple of months) is that you get to comment on what happened. Where as my entrepreneurs commented on what they did in the past, then we shot them in the future.
Now this is my first feature length film, and let’s be honest, just between us girls, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never constructed a story this long before, and was still in process learning about how to tell it. However, in some ways my doing the interviews first was good because it was the most expensive part of production and we ended up running out of money during editing (more on that later), so I’m glad we got our million dollar footage right away.
The other mistake I made was that I asked too many people to be in the film. I had 17 people interviewed for this film. Do you know how many I used in the film? 10- with a main focus on 4 characters. If I knew what I know now, I would have been more direct in the beginning about who I wanted in the film. It’s so hard in the editing room to cut amazing interviews, and it was one of the hardest parts of this process. If I had decided in the beginning just to focus on a small handful of women I would have been able to zero in on their stories and spend more time offset with them.
But that’s why we are all here, to learn together so you can make beautiful short films, documentaries, narratives, or whatever the hell that sets your soul on fire.
Next week we go under the lights. It’s time to talk to the queen of MarieTV.
Join us next Wednesday to hear the next part of Erin’s story. Or sign up for Feminist Wednesday’s newsletter to get it right to your inbox.