P + P – Progress Report – February

(Outcomes GR1,2 + IN1 + PER1)

All the films we’re working on have now begun shooting except Descent which has not confirmed a shooting schedule but does have it’s location confirmed and actors onboard – The audio team have carried out the requisite location recces and have received preliminary dates for which we’re awaiting a confirmation. Issues stem from matching actor availability with the possible shooting dates, but communication is good with the production managers of the film, contingencies have been discussed and are in place should it begin to fall behind schedule.

All the supervisors along with various team members and composers have organised and met with their respective directors and teams multiple times to feedback on the direction for sound design, based initially on director notes or conversations. All the pieces of work now have a more or less solid creative direction underpinning them on which the team has collaborated through a series of creative meetings and script read-throughs, largely at my insistence, in an effort to head off the production process for each film becoming the isolated province of it’s supervisor. Supervisors retain the final say but ideas for films are sourced collectively, and our composers are assigned and largely briefed regarding each film’s musical requirements by the supervisor who then decides whether to allow the composer to deal direct with the director on their film. I will also be pushing for feedback on composition to be a similarly collective process where desirable as the projects continue. [GR1, GR2]

In pushing for this more collaborative approach across the group, I am attempting to set the agenda for something akin to an Omni-Gaffer communication management strategy. This is a concept I picked up during a brief research foray into the literature of the Prince2 project management system, a recognised qualification for managers in the UK. A major project with a larger team would likely have a written and structured system of making sure information is properly shared, and collaborative outcomes and the structure’s to facilitate these collaborations would likely be properly stratified and reported upon, which ‘…facilitates engagement with stakeholders through the establishment of a controlled and bi-directonal flow of information.’ (Managing Successful Projects with Prince2, 2009, 239) [PER1]

As Descent is filming later, I’ve tended to fall into the role of firefighter for the other supervisors who’s films are in motion and have been called upon several times to cover location shoots, move equipment and perform administrative tasks (like booking equipment when other people are on set). Creatively, I’ve managed to get a headstart on some of the atmosphere’s for Immort which will be used to explain our audio direction during a spotting session with the director this week and as a base for future work, and am collaborating as a writer performer on one of the compositions for that film. The following week (which is likely the one before which shooting will commence for Descent) will also be spent building audio devices which might be suitable for use in Descent. [IN1]

Planning research into the foundations of the ‘company’ style structure has been my focus but I’ve fallen behind in carrying this out – thrashing out a ‘formal’ agreement (in the context of academia at least) between the members of the organisation who are carrying out these services is the next priority here. We’re all tracking our hours of work on any given project and intend to ascribe some kind of goodwill value to each component and phase of the project throughout it’s life, which we intend to be the ‘currency’ in which we’re trading. I must be wary of how easy to get caught up in administration and practicalities, and end up taking my eye off the ball of the academic side of the project.

My hours spent on the project for February have broken down roughly as follows, not including academic aspects such as blogs or research –

Total hours = 42.5
Admin – 14
Meets – 11
Creative Work – 8.5
Other – 8

There have been issues, but they’ve generally been minor and have been overcome with a combination of good judgement, forward-planning and luck. If we have to have one, our main issue so far has been facilities and equipment. Pressure on these is massive, and failure on set of key pieces of equipment relied upon for location audio work has caused several production problems and extra administrative work. The next hurdle on the horizon in this sense will involve the post work facilities bookings, which are already becoming a bone of contention because of the perception that we are using facilities at our institution inefficiently.

Reflecting, it is noticable that these issues lead practically to a carousel of phone calls, time sensitive emails, time spent replanning the projects and interruption when working creatively, which collectively mean I find myself spending more time problem-solving than doing the creative pre-production work for the films I have involvement in.

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Overview of situation generally for the project and specifically for the film Descent –Professional practice, Process Management.

  • [GR1] To professionally operate as a small to medium size company (or other recognisable business entity) in the audio production / post-production field might.
  • [GR2] To organise and fulfil an operating strategy and schedule which deals with multiple productions simultaneously, and which maximises efficiency and minimises issues or risks to delivery.
  • [IN1] To successfully manage the provision of service by the business for the film Descent with regard the assignment of resources, specialisms and working time, liason with the director, editor and producer on a practical and creative level, and communication of information on their needs and requirements for the piece, in order to appraise the efficacy of the collaborative approach to working on the piece – (Supervisor and Company Officer)

Collaborative creative process – Process Management

  • [GR2] To organise and fulfil an operating strategy and schedule which deals with multiple productions simultaneously, and which maximises efficiency and minimises issues or risks to delivery.

Researching wider project management literature and concepts – Research

  • [PER1]  To develop a better understanding of the pros and cons of business structures, processes, regulations and agreements which might enable film audio producers to collaborate on multiple projects.

Reflection on outcomes / efficiency – Individual reflection on learning and team role.