What’s the best way to create a production schedule?

When creating a Production Schedule start backwards from the delivery date. Whether you’re using sophisticated scheduling software, or you’re just using a gigantic wall calendar,  begin with the delivery date. Otherwise you’ll be working on that production schedule for the rest of your natural born days.

PRODUCTION SCHEDULE ORDER

1.  Deliver final master to the network
2.  Create all the deliverables for the network. (Contracts, final scripts, releases, DVD copies, etc.)
3.  Close caption your show
4.  Mix your tracks
5.  Final on-line edit
6.  Rough cut delivered to the network.  Factor in the various executives who will need to weigh in, comment and approve.  You’ll need time to get their comments, make the changes, deliver those changes, and then get a second or third round of rough cuts and comments before you’re ready for your final edit.
7.  Shoot your series/show.  Schedule your shoots based on location proximity and not script order.
8.  Write the script, factoring in time for revisions from the network.
9.  Scout Locations
10. Rehearse Talent
11. Cast Talent
12. Research
13. Budget developed and approved
14. Idea/concept

Reading the list from bottom to top are the sequence of actions you would take during a production (with a million other details thrown in).  Reading it from top to bottom is how you develop your production schedule.  Why?  Because it is rare that a delivery or air date change.  Anything else in between, can be squeezed, squashed, maneuvered and manipulated.

To ensure you’re on track during production, write daily reports against the production schedule.  It allows all key personnel to know what’s been accomplished, what needs to be accomplished and what’s back logged.  It is also an opportunity for any one with concerns to speak up.  The sooner you know about a scheduling difficulty the easier you can solve it – otherwise you will be running around like a schizophrenic at a multiple personality surprise party.

Whether you’re shooting a video to upload to You Tube, working on a series for a TV network, or producing a film – a workable schedule will give your production a strong foundation.