The ‘C’ word

With all the floods on television and me off work with flu, I’m forced to think of the 72 and the dreaded ‘c’ word – contingency. What happens if if all goes wrong? I’ve recently gone through contingency planning with the masters students but, let’s be honest, there isn’t much room for contingency in this project.

Time-wise, there will be a breaker between the actual 72 hours and the screening on the Sunday night. This isn’t actually to be used for contingency but can be if needs be. The reason it is there is because you don’t get much of an audience response from people that have been awake for 72 hours when they make up 1/4 of the audience. In fact, that quarter of people smell and fall asleep if you put them in a dark room.

Locations-wise, we’ll be working on various options, so that we don’t have a repeat of the craziest search for a supermarket that we had in Melbourne (when we didn’t get a scene shot in time in the original location). We held tight on a decision there, to get one scene shot properly and trigger a search for a second supermarket instead of rushing two scenes in the same place. It wasn’t easy for people to find a second supermarket and for us to schedule it in, but it was much better for the movie, which is the whole point of contingency – to work out what the priorities are. 

And once we begin, the priority is to get the film finished. We’ve released crew and cast members in the different 72 projects when we felt they may affect the film. It isn’t a nice feeling but sometimes it has to happen, and if the planning is right, it can happen without any of us. It’s nothing personal, it’s just the way it has to be.

When people think about about contingency in filmmaking they think ‘10%’. That’s the percentage of the final budget that should be added at the end to address any unforeseen circumstances in your project. It demonstrates how money is seen to be the answer of all the woes on set. When you haven’t planned for contingency correctly the money comes out to buy your way out of it. Car not turned up? Get a taxi. Sandwiches not turned up? Buy a meal. It quickly gets expensive if you deviate from the plan.

That’s why the planning has to be awesome, and being sick and watching the floods on TV only makes me want to plan some more.

James

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