Preparing for Takeoff: Preproduction for the Independent Filmmaker, an Interview with Author
Preparing for Takeoff is a one-stop master class on pre-production by seasoned moviemaker Arthur Vincie—300 pages of no-nonsense practical advice on everything from maximizing locations to planning auditions to motivating crew (hint: Don’t forget to feed them).
All your worst fears are true: Doing your homework really is the most important thing in life. As anyone who’s been through the mill will testify, due diligence in pre-production will always save your butt come production and distribution, so don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today! Says Vincie: “The book uses real-world examples of micro-budget films that I’ve worked on or know about in some detail, and includes a companion website with downloadable forms, diagrams and budgets.” Can you say cheat sheet? We think this is an invaluable companion to anyone producing on a budget – or, for that matter, anyone producing at all.
Vincie, whose latest film Found in Time was just picked up for distribution by Green Apple Entertainment, answered a few of our admiring questions.
MovieMaker Magazine (MM): Where do most moviemakers learn this stuff – in school, from reading, or on the job itself? What inspired you to put together such a comprehensive guide?
Arthur Vincie (AV): Good filmmakers learn from every resource (jobs, magazines, books, school, tutorials) but primarily on the job. The problem with learning on the job is that mistakes can cost a lot of money, time, energy, and/or creativity. I wrote the book because I thought I could save budding filmmakers some of the pain I went through.
MM: Preparing for Takeoff contains advice on the entire journey, but what in your opinion is THE most important step in the pre-production process – one that has to be done right to ensure a smooth production?
AV: For directors: do a thorough script analysis. That’s the basis of your authority with both the crew and cast, and it’s the root of all of your creative ideas.
For producers: set up your business properly at the beginning – form the company, open the bank and credit card accounts, etc. If you don’t do this right you’re going to wind up in all kinds of trouble later on.
MM: What would you say to someone who feels daunted by the amount of prep you prescribe in the book? After all, it IS a lot of work.
AV: Firstly, you don’t have to do it all at once! Go slow. Work at your own pace. Secondly, you don’t have to do it all by yourself! Find partners, mentors and teammates who can help you. Look at prep as a means of freeing you rather than locking you in. If you take care of small problems now, they won’t get in your way when you’re trying to make magic on set.
MM: Line producing definitely isn’t the job for everyone. What kind of personality do you think is best suited for the task?
AV: You have to be tough but calm. Learn to say no without making it about ego. It helps to have a creative sensibility – a good line producer can figure out how to come up with an alternate solution, and not just say “we can’t afford that.”
Preparing for Takeoff: Preproduction for the Independent Filmmaker (2013) is available from Focal Press. MM
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