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SOURCE: Tips from MCA-I Pro Track™ · POSTED: 03/31/05
The phone call comes. Your client needs you to shoot in a different country. But your only experience with a different country has been on vacation. Now what? You answer “yes” — then panic. But that’s good - it will make you think. Here’s a brief primer.
1. Client Contact
This is obvious, but often overlooked - the contact person has to speak Business English. Ask for people in executive management. The higher up your contact, the less confusion is likely to occur. A top manager understands the needs of the company. He can make things happen. And the decision making process is streamlined, saving you valuable time.
2. The Team
Assembling the team depends on the amount of money you have and the different locations you will shoot in. If it’s one place, you can either bring your team along or hire a local team where the DP speaks English.
If you bring your team from the US, check for business visa requirements and always hire an English-speaking, local PA with a van. If you need more help, hire a good assistant producer. If it gets real extensive, you might need a location manager and/or production manager. They will be invaluable during your shoot and save you from a lot of problems.
If you shoot in several locations, take your core team along everywhere. It ensures continuity. In the European Union, you can hire additional crew members from one country and take them along into others.
3. The Equipment
Again, it’s budget, but first make sure your production insurance covers the countries you’re shooting in.
The cheapest version is renting the gear in the country you shoot in. It eliminates excess baggage costs and long waits through airline security. However, you won’t know exactly what you’re getting and most countries use PAL. Also NTSC equipment often is older and not that readily available in many countries.
A happy medium is bringing the basic equipment with you, i.e., camera and accessories, and a simple lighting kit.
4. The Shot List
This is a very important part of the pre-production process, especially for international shoots. The sooner you know what you have to shoot, the better you can prepare because you’ll need to coordinate with your client here, your contact in the other country, and ideally with your DP.
Once you’ve developed an approved list, let your contact know. There may be unforeseen problems you don’t know about. Provide as much information to your contact and team members as you can. Be prepared to make changes, even once you get there. Listen to your contact. They may have a better idea. Be flexible. Don’t go in there expecting things to run like they do in the US. They won’t.
5. Expect the Unexpected
And then there are the differences in Culture and Mentality. But that’s another article at another time. Just remember - Expect the Unexpected.
Corinna Sager teams up with Carol Nadell for the MCA-I Pro Track™ session “International Productions - Getting It Right” offered Wednesday, June 8, at 8 a.m.