if you are puling together a no-budget, low-budget, or high-budget project you need to start with a blank budget. No matter how big or small your project is, you always need to have a budget to keep you in track of everything.
One of the most famous software to create and manage your budget is Movie Magic Budgeting. It is very easy to work with and any person can get the hang of it and learn the ins and outs very easily. The down side is that this software costs a lot of money. I got myself a demo version that only works for a couple of days, then I had to buy.
Another option would be excel budgets. They work just as nice and the good part of it is that they are extremely cheap. You only have to have excel, and if for some reason you can’t afford excel, you can also get open office for free.
I am making available here on my website two excel budgets that will work for most of production needs. I got them from friends and then I changed them a bit for my needs and taste.
They are based on templates from AICP, which stands for Association of Independent Commercial Producers. I just want to emphasize that I created these budgets that are based on existing AICP excel budget, but they were built from scratch, tweaked and modified to meet my own needs. I do not claim copyright on them because I took the idea from an existing excel form. They are not password protected, so if you want to change and modify them, by all means, be free to do it. Also if you want to share your work, send me your file and I will upload here on my website.
Thank you very much for your visit and hope to hear back from you.
At the end of December I wrote and produced a Commercial for a house complex in Puerto Vallarta Mexico.
The name of the place is Tres Mares. My dear friend and partner Carlos Osorio who brought me to this gig. We worked on the script together and after a couple of treatments, he went to Puerto Vallarta for a couple of days for production. He brought back the footage and we finished together the editing. I also brought my great friend Ryan Bosworth to do the color correction.
This month of October 2012 I was fortunate enough to work in this amazing music video called Sin Ti, by the talented group Chino and Nacho. Carlos Osorio, producer, brought me to this project where I was the Line producer and Production Manager.
I was responsible for hiring all the cast and crew, renting equipment, getting the location, and managing the shoot and wrap.
This project was the most intricate and rewarding that I’ve done since I am here in Hollywood.
We shot at the Disney Golden Oaks Ranch, in Santa Clarita. We had the Arri alexa, JL Fisher dolly, Techno crane, cooke lenses, 45 extras, 5 ton grip truck, 500 amps generator, 2 water trucks, 1 sports car, 1 full size production trailer, 1 catering bus, 1 picture bus, and about 120 cast and crew.
Everything was shot in one 18 hours day.
It took me 2 weeks to work the budget and one week to contract EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING.
Please watch the final product here.
Please watch a 3 part behind the scenes here (all BTS images by Daniel Lupo).
I spent 2 months in Brazil including 2011 Christmas and New Year’s Eve. When I returned it was time to get back to work and find new gigs. I bought a 7D and started to look for gigs in the camera department as well.
One of the gigs that I got was with the filmmaker Christian Stoehr. He hired me to work as a second camera for his upcoming documentary about slot car racing. Slot car racing is a fun activity that was huge in the 60’s. In Brazil slot car racing had some presence as well. It was easy to find a friend that owned a “pista de autorama”, which in English means race track.
Back in the 60’s, California was one of the centers for Slot car Racing. There were so many tracks, that one could easily go from neighborhood to neighborhood finding new places to race and never go to the same place twice. There were also national and international tournaments, with sponsors and fans. The industry of slot car would make as much as 500 million a year back in the days. Then in the beginning of 70’s Slot car racing started to decline and today only a few tracks are still remaining.
The track we shot the documentary was in Buena Park. Over there we could meet the racers that were huge in the 60’s. They come from all over the place and meet every weekend to participate in races. They are aficionados about the hobby and are true masters when it comes down to the history of it. It was fun to spend a day there, working with this filmmaker, and getting to know a little bit about a world that I wouldn’t otherwise.
I was fortunate enough to work with the amazing director Ryan Bosworth in 2 great projects as first AD. Ryan is a commercial director that sometimes works on post, and sometimes works for Pistolera (a post production house based in Santa Monica). He has done tons of work in the commercial advertising business and now he is devoting some of his free time to side projects. Because of his background, Ryan is very good with visuals and he can be very organized when it comes down to what he wants to see in the picture.
The first project was called Followers. It is a thriller short film where an internet group is doing some very creepy on line services. We scheduled to shoot in 2 days an 11 page script. We had a very concise and thought out story board and amazing cast.
The whole crew/casting was Jack Brungardt as 2nd AD and sound, one gaffer, one best boy and 4 actors. On the first day we had a company move, with a total of 7 sets. The second day we didn’t have a company move, but we had 5 sets. We got everything we need and wrapped early on both days.
I watched a pre cut of this short film and looks and feels incredible. The story is catchy, the visuals are strong, the acting is spot on, and the scoring is powerful. We shot this project with a hacked GH2.
The second project was a little bit more audacious. We had a more experienced camera crew, we used the RED camera, we had a 1 ton grip truck, we had impressive casting, and we had harder camera set ups. For the second project Ryan hired 2 producers to take care of locations, insurance, craft/catering, and contracts. The crew also had a competent Make up person called David Charles, and also a wardrobe department lead by Terra Brody and Jackie Fanara. The DP was Tristan Whitman, and he brought his crew mattes Iggy, Hillary, Igor, and Tally. We also had help of Jessica Brody who was doing the behind the scenes and Oscar Arvizu as AC.
Both projects were written by Jennifer Bosworth, Ryan’s wife. The second project was called Struck and it was a trailer for the upcoming book of the same name that Jeniffer is releasing at the end of 2011. This trailer will serve for two purposes: One is selling the book and another is selling the film idea to studios that are already interested in buying the rights of the book.
I used scenechronize on line service to manage the schedule on both projects.
As soon as I know more about the book and trailer release I will post something here.
My friend Nathaniel Nose called me one day asking if I could be a grip for the production company he was working for. Well, I am not the grip type, but I needed an extra cash so I decided to go to the interview in his office. At the interview I realize that they were in need of a production team as well. So I ended up getting hired as 1st AD. I brought my friend ML Wills and Jack Brungardt to work with me. ML was the 2nd AD for 2 days and Jack was the 2nd 2nd.We had a production manager called Jaydine Valencia and we also had a producer called Cyril O’Reily.
The production office was located in west Hollywood inside of a building complex. The owner of this company is called Dana Schroeder and he is also the owner of the building. He is a very nice guy who is starting his career in filmmaking. He has a lot of gear that helped us in the making of this picture. The film is called Lost Soul and stars Dave Vescio, Nick Mancuso and Zadran Wali. It is a psychological thriller where Dave’s character Donald is searching for love using dark magic. I was hired to do the additional photography for the film that was shot in 2009.
We shot everything is 4 days at the production office. The last day we had a company move to Hollywood Hills in a Mansion overlooking Los Angeles. It was really cool that night, because the place was amazing, we had a lot of extras, there were a fire going to warm everybody, we had implied nudity in one of the takes, and we got everything we needed, and we wrapped early.
At the production office the hardest part was working with cats. We had to do a couple of scenes with cats jumping the camera, running down the corridor, and being held by the actor. The good part was that the building was filled with cats. I mean, there were at least 20 cats laying around the building. The bad part was getting these cats. We had to come up with a strategy where we had a holding area for the cats, and we would lock all the exits where the cats could leave from. This way the cats had always one path going one way. At the end of the path, we would have a couple of PA to get the cats back and bring to the holding area. Even with this strategy, we had a very hard time dealing with the animals. My suggestion to anyone is to hire a professional animal handler because it will avoid being scratched all over your body.
It is based on cloud computing technology, where by all your data is saved and managed on line. It is very user friendly and easy to use. In my opinion it is a Movie Magic Scheduling on line. The advantages of this Scenechronize over Movie Magic is that your data is always available on line on any computer, you can easily manage changes and updates whenever and wherever you are, and it is free for a basic use. I believe that Scenechronize it is definitely a step ahead in the game when it comes down to production of films. The disadvantages of Scenechronize are the fact that it is not yet popular as MMS, your options are still limited, and some feature (like inserting new scenes and creating reports) are not as efficient like MMS.
I strong recommend for every 1st AD to take a look at this software and get the hang of it. If you are on a budget and can’t afford MMS, scenechronize it is your best choice. It is way better than Celtx because it has an interface that it is similar to what the industry uses, like colored stripboards, breakdown elements, and DOOD reports. There is also a call sheet export to excel that is pretty useful.
The other software that is calling my attention is Movie Magic To Go. It’s been quite a long time that MMS doesn’t upgrade their system, and now I understand why. They were developing this App that will be very helpful for the AD on set. It is the Movie Magic Scheduling for Ipad. Like every software delivered by Entertainment Partners, this one is not for free. The good thing is that the price is not as much as MMS. For only 29,99 you can buy the App that will bring all your desktop breakdown to the Ipad. The amazing thing is that you can have all your info with you everywhere you go on set. I think it will look very cool for an AD to show the breakdown on an Ipad for a director or producer. Other than the show off value, this app will also minimize the amount of paper one has to carry while shooting a film. The bad part about this app is that it is not synced with the desktop application, and there is no on line version of it. Which means that every change you do on your desktop, will not sync up automatically with the Ipad version. Also if you have the Ipad version, you still need the desktop version to create the breakdown.
My suggestion for the developers of software focused on the AD field is to create a synced system like scenechronize, with an App like MMS to go, and integrate the call sheet to an online calendar like Celtx. Everybody, everywhere, will be able to see in real time what scenes are being shot, changes, and latest updates. I know that sonner or later, some of the software companies will create something like that.
This month of September 2011 I was hired to work as 2nd 2nd AD in a feature film called April Apocalypse. I can start by saying that it was one of my best production experiences since I am here in Hollywood. I work most of the time as 1st AD for gigs that I get, but usually they don’t have what this gig had: a full production department.
My experience working on low budget independent films is based on the reality that I have to do everything and a little bit more. I never had a 2nd AD, nor production coordinator, nor line producer, working with me. So my biggest challenge in this production was actually figuring out what to do, because the production department had everything pretty much figured it out (like the TV productions I worked back in Brazil).
I didn’t know what a 2nd 2nd AD job was. I learned that one of the responsibilities of a 2nd 2nd is for the most part getting the first team (main actors and directors) ready to set, paperwork related to cast, and handling and placing the extras/background actors in the picture. My “doing-everything-possible” attitude during the first days of production made me take care of a bunch of stuff except what a 2nd 2nd should take care. But as the days went on, I started to get the hang of it and by the end I was doing pretty damn good.
Another big challenge was set etiquette. My do-it-all attitude sometimes put me in bad situations. There were moments where instead of facilitating the job, I was getting in the way of people. Another difficult task was talking on walkies. I mean, it is hard for me to understand people when they speak English fast, but it is almost impossible to understand people talking fast on a walkie talkie (specially when they are screaming the walkie lingo). I was nurturing a good attitude even with stumbles, working hard and not getting caught up on little things. My tough skin, that I built during my prior working experiences, helped me endure the low and not over cheer the high moments.
There were a lot of good things that I will always remember. One of them was that in the very first day we had to separate the production in 2 units. While one was shooting with the main actors in one set, the other was shooting with the supporting actors in another set. I stayed with the main actors and I was able to do part of the 1st AD job, calling the rolls, getting everyone to their positions, and getting the shots done. Another thing that was pretty nice was that on the last day of shoot, I was relaying the messages from the director in the video village to the 1st AD inside the set, and for that reason I was able to call the picture wrap right after the director. I was really happy with my path during this show.
The person who brought me to this production was Sazzy Lee Calhoun. She was the best first AD I ever had the pleasure to work with. She saw on my resume that I worked with Damian Chapa and she knew that I could handle pressure. To me was important to see how a good 1st AD takes care of the production. Bernie Gewissler was the line producer, but in my opinion he was a magician. The way he stretched the budget in order to make this picture a reality was OFF THE HOOK. ML Wills was the second AD. He had the most accurate and well thought out call sheet I’ve ever seen. Also he had a very good spirit during the whole shoot. By his side was Trina DeMattei, our production coordinator. She is just a sweet heart. Everything they taught me left a positive mark for the rest of my life, and I will always be grateful for it. Also in the production department there were a couple of PAs who were not only good workers, but real friends. Jack Brungardt, Andrew Higgins, Sarah Burt, and Rose Luther.
The film shooting
The film was scheduled to shoot in 15 days, with 4 major locations: The ranch, church, mansion, and dinner. The ranch was where we stayed for most of production and at that place we could shoot at least 20 different sets. The good thing about that location was that we had everything we need in one spot, we didn’t have to keep wrapping and setting up every day, and the place was very beautiful. The bad thing is that the ranch was too far north from LA, it was remote from important facilities (groceries store, equipment stores, rental houses, etc), and it was too big making it difficult to move fast from one set to another.
After the ranch we went to a church that was farther north and then we came back to LA at a mansion in Encino. We stayed at that Encino Mansion for 4 days and our last day was at a Dinner in San Fernando.
The crew was exceptionally knowledgeable about their craft even being a very young group of people. The DP Kyle Hartman impressed me with the quality of his cinematography. He respected his crew members and he knew what he could get from every person. I asked him a few questions to figure out what was his process of creating the visual of a picture and I was impressed not only with his answer but with the fact that he took his time to talk about it. There were 5 people in his department who backed him up: Ron Wilson (Key Grip), Wesley VonTracy and Jeff Siljenberg (gaffers), Jerry Franck and Gevorg Sarkisian (camera op). All of them were young, polite, talented, patient, and creative artists. They had a group of good professionals working with them. Mario Contini and Matt Claudillo were the 1st ACs, Nick Novotny was the 2nd AC, Steve Mangurten was the DIT. Big Mike was one of the grips together with Stephen Chan. Edwin Kim and Shane Moore were the electricians. There were a lot of day players, and I wish I could remember the name of all of them, because everybody did a great work.
The art department had Susannah Lowber as the production designer. I liked that she was always in a good mood with me. We laugh together a couple of times and she made my days easier. She had the help of propmaster Jeremy Trimbach, who was one of my best friends on set. He always mentioned about the good work that I was doing. Nick Harrison and Ashley Prikryl were the set decorators and all of them were great artists. I even let them use one of my tents and sleeping bags for one of the scenes.
The wardrobe department was led by Victor Sandoval. He was a good spirit also and very easy going person. He had under his command Vaiya Simmons and Mishka Trachenberg. They worked really close to the make up department that had Adam Beesley as the commander in chief. Dan Gilbert and Brittany Dummit were also inside the most efficient make up department I’ve ever work with. Imagine had to create more than 15 zombies in one day to shoot a scene. Well they not only did that in one morning, but also were able to make themselves up and jump on front of the camera for a couple of occasions. They had always treat me nice even when I was trying to get talents out of their chairs.
There was a guy who was a department by himself. His name is John Barret. He was the script supervisor and a very interesting human being to say the least. He worked by the side of the directors Jarret Tarnol and Brent Tarnol. These two young and talented directors work very well together. Brent is the creative brain behind the script and Jarret is the one who brings the words to the screen. What I liked about their partnership is their mutual respect. I liked to see how Jarret runs the show, and how well he puts himself in every situation. Brent had a lot on his plate, because he not only wrote the film, but was one of the main characters. He was very funny and very polite. He even came one day and apologized for being rude with me, but to be honest, I didn’t remember when he was ever rude. They have a company called Tarnol Group Pictures
April Apocalypse had heavy set of talented actors. The films stars Reece Thompson, Rebekah Brandes, and Brent Tarnol. In the supporting roles there are Stephanie Hunt, Todd Stashwick, Roger Bart, and Matt Shively. We also had a set of special guest talents like: George Lopez, Mark Rolston, Marguerite MacIntyre, and William Morgan Sheppard. The film also had a set of young upcoming talents like: Sarah Hyland, Randy Wayne, Matt Prokop, Elizabeth Small, Olivia Waldriff, and Charlie Lea.
I was amazed by how well Reece Thompson played his character Artie. Reece is an awesome guy, who loves to play ukelele, esteemed and confident of his abilities, nothing like his character Artie who starts as a fragile and unappreciated person. Reece had to dig deep into his emotional memory to come up with the exceptional acting he delivered in every take. Since the beginning I had a feeling that I knew him from somewhere and I was surprised to discover that he was in one of my top ten films: Rocket Science. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to tell him how much I loved his work in Rocket Science because I just discovered that after we wrapped the film. If you want to see the full potential of a rising star, please watch Rocket Science and April Apocalypse.
Rebekah Brandes is a sweet heart. She was always committed to her character. I even remember when I was talking to her in between takes and she was answering me as April (the character she plays). It caught me off guard and I had to adapt to her reality in order to make sense of our conversation, and most important, keep her focus. Another actress who caught my attention was Stephanie Hunt, who plays Regan. She is that kind of person who looks you in the eyes when having a conversation. Her character Regan had the obstacle of seeing her family die on front of her and had to find reasons to keep living after the fact. None of the actors were divas or had a bad attitude. I believe that one of the reasons was the fact that the production was really organized, not leaving space for complaints.
This film will be going places for sure because it has everything on it. It is a romantic/action picture, where the main character is chasing after the love of his life in the middle of a zombie outbreak. It has astonishing cinematography (we shot with two red ones, and one epic), A list casting, lots of blood, gore, drama, romance, and the most important fact of all, it was made by true filmmakers. It is set to release in 2012.