Your first feature, unless your mom or dad is a billionaire, 99 out of 100 times, will be either a 1-week, a 2-week or a 3-Week Shoot…. A 3-Week Shoot. Let’s focus on that.

That’s 18 Shooting days…Working Monday-Saturday, 12-15 hours/day, with a 90-Page Screenplay, within limited location moves, and no Exterior-Night setups pencils-out to be a Shooting Schedule of 5 Pages/day. Got It! 5 Pages/Day.

Deal Site - Camera   Deal Site - Camera

This ain’t Rocket Science.

By-the-By a 2-Week Shoot is a 7 Pages/Day Schedule.

And if you didn’t know it, a 1-Week Shoot is a 9-10 Pages/Day Schedule.

But you say, “10 Pages/Day for a 1-week Shoot only amounts to 70 Pages of a 90 Page Script?” Pay attention for I teach (2-Day Film School), from experience, that when you do a 1-Week Shoot you make a Camera/Equipment Rental deals for 1-week but you pick the cameras up on Friday before noon (Camera rental facilities are never open on weekends) and returng them after two-weekends on the following Monday before noon. Voilla. 10-Days) & you execute a 9-10 Page/Day Schedule.

It always amazes me how many first-timers, especially first-timers, who just spent 4-years and over $200,000, at some theory laden film school with a Diploma that means “little-to-nothing” in the industry never seem to know how to schedule a shoot “realistically” (key word is “realistically”) for their first feature film.

Let me get to the point or as said in Hollywood cut-to-the-chase.

I get numerous calls from traditional film school grads asking for a recommendation for a good Production Manager who can do (A) a Budget and (B) a Shooting Schedule for their script/project….and my answer is always “YOU DO IT”.

He/she then always replies but “I want to do it the “right way”… I love that phrase “The right way”. To me that means you want to be perfect and if you, I’m talkin’ from the school of hard knocks, ever try to do anything perfect (aka: the right way) then you will never-ever get anything done.

The alleged “right way” to do a budget is to get your script, contact Writers Store web site (excellent resource center) and buy a $300-$500 Budgeting Software program, boot it into your computer then fill it in line-item by line-item the perfect way….assuming that everything in the world is available to you whenever you want it…

The end result will always be a very nice looking, properly paginated budget for your movie with a bottom-line dollar amount between $1 – $55 Million.

You did it “the right way”… And you just discovered “the right way”  doesn’t work… Why? Simple: Just tell me “who the hell in the world is going to give you $1-$55 Million to play with… even when you have a degree from NYU, USC or UCLA.

The answer is No One! Nobody! That is, once again, unless your daddy has a net worth of $500 million, at a minimum, and doesn’t know what to do with you for you’ve had your mugshot on TMZ, next to Lindsay or Kanye, to many times and want to kick you out of the house and believes buying you a movie project might do it.

Budgeting & Scheduling for your first feature film “the right way” doesn’t work.


So how do you do a Budget & then Schedule a practical shoot…the mature, logical, intelligent way?

You use common sense. That thing that is so lacking today.

FIRST BUDGETING: How much money do you think you’ll scam up from some friends or relatives, with you getting a part-time job at Starbucks over the next 6 months if you first get a script (the 90-page one-location wonder)?

MovieMoney-2   MovieMoney-2






 I don’t think the number you’re going to come up with will be $1.0 million to $55 million.

The amount that you will come up with might be, let’s push it a little, $100K-$200K, and that’s a push. And with $100-$200K you can have (aka: afford), thanks to super cheap 4K cameras (DSLRs or even iPhones) a 3-week shoot.

 Yes, your first feature film shoot will not be longer than 3-weeks. The most common first-time feature shoots that I see are always 18-Day Shoots (aka: 3-week Shoots). Working Monday-Saturday 15-hour days and during that time, with only 12-hours of daylight per day, shooting 25-30 setups, at 20-25 minutes each allocating, at the most, 7-10 minutes for lighting and blocking.


So let’s pencil-it-out. A 3-Week Shoot, an 18-Day Shoot. A screenplay that is approximately 90-pages. Divided 18 Days into 90-pages and you have a SHOOTING SCHEDULE of 5-Pages/Day.

Plus, each day has only 12-hours of daylight. You will need 1-hour for everyone to get there, get some coffee, look at the rotten breakfast you provided, get out the equipment, power up, wait for the actor/actress to get out of make-up and commence the shoot. You will power through for 6-hours and then have a 1-hour break for lunch (Don’t go cheap here). Then resume shooting and go until it gets dark. So at the most, with a 12-15 hour workday you will have 10 hours for shooting.

10-Hours Shooting! 5-Pages covered. Okay, you now understand you will get 1-Page in the can every 2-Hours. Now, during those 2-Hours, you want good directorial coverage and would like a (1) Master Shot, (2) Two OTS Medium Shots, (3) a bunch of small Cutaways, (4) One or Two Close-ups and an (5) Establishing Shot.

This pencils-out to 5-6 setups (aka: shots) per 2 hours to get 1-page covered which means you have 20-22 minutes to imagine, create, block, light, rehearse and get a shot….

 Now move fast.

Happy Filmmaking,


How long was your first feature film shoot that you directed?

Was it a 3-Week Shoot?

Please share

IDEA-3   DovSimensFilmSchool  IDEA-3 (Dov Simens, creator of the “2-Day”, “Streaming” & “DVD” Film Schools)

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5 comments on “SCHEDULING YOUR SHOOT… THE RIGHT WAY? (1, 2 or 3 Weeks?)”

  1. joe sixpak says:

    how many people do you scare off with the truth

    how many do you think learn something and have a chance at actually doing it

    how many others are out their totally clueless who think they can wing it but totally fail

  2. Alexis lefortune says:

    Your advice and teachings have truly worked for me. Your teachings have made a massive forward movement in my film making , writing, and acting, and now producing life! The work ethic involved can be tiring at times, but the end result is so rewarding. My biggest advice to anyone serious about this type of work 1 – you must have a good story. 2 – you cannot afford to just wing it, there must be strategy and preparation when doing a film.

  3. dwight beres says:

    Useful piece . I loved the info . Does anyone know where my company could possibly get access to a blank a form form to fill out ?

  4. Nathan Taylor says:

    Good read. A lot of the points ring true from my past experiences on set.

  5. Henry Larry says:

    My initial feature shoot spanned 18 days matching the industry standard outlined here. It was a whirlwind of activity but the focused schedule allowed us to capture the essence of the story with precision.
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