The SHORT! Guide to Producing

Book description

In this book, Charles Merzbacher offers a concise, definitive guide to the essential skills, techniques and logistics of producing short films, focusing on the practical knowledge needed for line producing and overseeing smaller-scale productions. Drawing on insights from real-life production scenarios, veteran filmmaker and instructor Charles Merzbacher takes producers through every stage of the production process, from fundraising, preproduction and planning to the producer’s role in postproduction and distribution.

Key topics include:

  • Finding a worthy project;
  • Schedules and budgets;
  • Managing the casting process;
  • Recruiting and managing crew;
  • Location scouting;
  • Legal and safety issues;
  • Running a production;
  • Negotiating music rights;
  • And much more!

An accompanying website—available at—offers document templates for contracts, call sheets, budgets and other production forms, as well as sample production documents and short video guides featuring top industry professionals.

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title
  3. Copyright
  4. Contents
  5. Introduction: Looking Before Leaping
    1. Be Prepared
    2. Is There an Audience for This Short?
    3. Defining the Producer’s Role
    4. The Short Dilemma: Who’s in Charge?
    5. Shoebox Redhead : A Textbook Case
    6. Terminology
    7. Production Management Software
  6. 1 Getting Down to Business
    1. Financing Your Film
    2. Television Distribution
    3. Government Support
    4. The Funding of Student Productions
    5. Private Foundations and Commercial Underwriting
    6. Specialized Markets
    7. Profit Versus Non-Profit
    8. Ownership Versus Sponsorship
    9. Online Fundraising Platforms
    10. Appealing to Friends and Family
    11. Setting Up to Do Business
  7. 2 Preproduction
    1. Safety First
    2. Clearing Rights to Intellectual Property
    3. Copyright and the Public Domain
    4. Story Rights
    5. Screenplay Rights
    6. An Overview of Preproduction and a Timeline
  8. 3 Script Breakdown
    1. What Exactly Am I Producing?
    2. Numbering Scenes
    3. Measuring Scenes
    4. Marking Up the Script: Know the Code
    5. Putting the Code Into Action
  9. 4 Breakdown Sheets
    1. Creating Breakdown Sheets
    2. How Many Sheets?
    3. A Sample Sheet
    4. Filling in the Header
    5. Some Tricky Details
    6. Pushing On
  10. 5 The Schedule
    1. Building the Shooting Schedule
    2. Options for Laying Out the Schedule
    3. What Has Priority?
    4. How Many Days?
    5. Taking a Stab at It
    6. The Arc of the Shoot
    7. The Schedule in Overview
  11. 6 The Budget
    1. The Secrets of Budgeting
    2. The Architecture of a Budget
    3. Different Kinds of Zeroes
    4. Fringes, Per Diems and Other Budgeting Terms
    5. Negotiating Rates With Vendors
    6. To Buy or to Rent
    7. A Budget Template
  12. 7 Beyond Budgeting Basics
    1. Revealing Details
    2. How Food Can (and Should) Eat Up Your Budget
    3. Taxes, Mileage and Other Details That Can Break the Bank
    4. A Walking Tour of a Budget
    5. Stunts and Special Effects on a Budget
  13. 8 The Crew
    1. How Big Is Big Enough?
    2. Understanding Departments and Crew Hierarchy
    3. Payments, Deferrals and Favors
    4. Cutting Deals: From Box Rentals to Favored Nations
  14. 9 The Cast
    1. The Producer’s Role in Casting
    2. The Casting Process
    3. Hiring a Casting Director
    4. Producing Auditions
    5. Casting Professionals and Actors From Other Regions
    6. Working With the Actors’ Unions
    7. Using Non-Actors, Using Friends and Other Special Cases
    8. Casting Crowds
    9. Performer Releases
  15. 10 Locations
    1. Ask, Don’t Steal
    2. Scouting Locations
    3. Negotiating and Securing Locations
    4. Copyright, Trademark and Fair Use
    5. Insurance
    6. A Note About Operating Vehicles and Heavy Machinery
  16. 11 Production Paperwork
    1. Before You Roll: The Final Details
    2. The Daily Production Schedule
    3. Options for Displaying and Sharing Your Schedule
    4. The Call Sheet and Other Paperwork
    5. Purchase Orders
    6. Working Away From Home
  17. 12 The Shoot
    1. Once More With Feeling: Safety Matters
    2. Riding the Whirlwind
    3. Conceding, Settling, Hanging Tough and Whittling
    4. How to Manage Crises and Tiffs (and How to Tell Them Apart)
    5. Revising the Schedule During Production
    6. Tracking the Budget Through Production
  18. 13 Music
    1. Kinds of Film Music
    2. Music Rights
    3. Using Existing Music
    4. Production Music and Music Libraries
    5. Licensing Commercially Released Music
    6. Working With a Composer
    7. Temp Track Love
  19. 14 Postproduction
    1. The Producer’s Role in Postproduction
    2. Pick-Ups
    3. Postproduction Workflow
    4. Fixing It in Post: Color Correction and Other Adjustments
    5. Mixing and Outputting
    6. Budgeting for Postproduction
  20. 15 Promotion and Distribution
    1. The Ladder to Success
    2. Distribution Strategies for the Short Film
    3. Scarcity Versus Ubiquity
    4. The Festival Circuit
    5. The Press Kit and Other Promotional Materials
    6. Deliverables
    7. Online Distribution
  21. Conclusion: The Long and the Short of It
  22. Appendix A: Script for Shoebox Redhead
  23. Appendix B: Budget for Shoebox Redhead
  24. Appendix C: Contract Templates
    1. Purchase Agreement Template for Acquisition of Underlying Story Rights
    2. Screenwriter Agreement Template
    3. Exhibit A
    4. Services Agreement Template for Crew
    5. Performer Agreement Template for Cast Members
    6. Location Agreement Template
    7. Synchronization License Agreement Template
    8. Master Use License Agreement Template
    9. Composer Agreement Template
  25. Appendix D: Further Reading
  26. Appendix E: Contributor Biographies
  27. Appendix F: Glossary of Terms
  28. Acknowledgements
  29. About the Author
  30. Index

Product information

  • Title: The SHORT! Guide to Producing
  • Author(s): Charles Merzbacher
  • Release date: June 2018
  • Publisher(s): Routledge
  • ISBN: 9781351186537