Being the right-brained artist, I never thought I’d find myself in the logistics and paperwork infested world of producing. Rachel Taylor’s Avarice changed all that for me.

Here are 3 of my rookie mistakes and how you can avoid them:

1. Letting the budget get away from you:

You only have so much money to make a film, and if you run out too soon it’s game over. Keeping track of where every penny is going is essential…and really really hard. Doubly so if you’re working with a bunch of artists.

Looking back, I should have implemented weekly accountability sessions with the department heads, and made reporting expenditures easy through a web-panel or spreadsheet.

2. Assuming others know what they’re talking about:

Yes, yes, yes… Common sense. This ties into what I said about knowing what you’re talking about in my post about The Glass. You can’t afford to waste time, energy or patience when making a film.

I made the mistake of assuming somebody more experienced than myself knew how to shoot on a green screen, when looking back, they themselves had little green screen experience. They talked a big talk, but my assumptions cost us expensive re-shoots.

3. Not being strict about the little things:

I don’t like to be yelled at, especially over trivial things. I’m sure you don’t either. Unfortunately…I’ve got bad news for you would-be producers: prepare to be the bad guy.

A couple of volunteer grips were unloading light stands from a trailer and leaning them against the truck I borrowed from my roommate. I asked them to set the stands elsewhere and they shrugged me off. Not wanting to nag our free help, I let them be. About 10 minutes later I hear SKREEEE-CRASH! The light stands had fallen over, scraping away large swaths of paint from my roommate’s truck. To add insult to injury, our production insurance didn’t cover damage to vehicles. A costly set of mistakes indeed.

In the end I’m fortunate to have made these mistakes early on and on a small film. Had the stakes been higher, this blog post would have been titled ‘3 Quick Ways to End Your Career!’

Question: What mistakes have you learned from?

Dan Baker

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Dan works out his social anxieties by producing and directing films. He's a proud New Mexican, and prefers green over red.

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