Production meetings are the venues where crew and cast gather to discuss and prepare for the next stages of the production. Depending on the meeting's function, any member of the cast or crew could be in attendance, ready to discuss deadlines, department tasks, scripts, budgets, existing or potential obstacles, equipment, props, sets, etc.
Productions meetings, at the very least, need to be conducted every week or as needed. The gatherings keep everyone on point regarding the production and the part attendees play in it.
Without these meetings, the production will inevitably be in shambles, ending up a costly mess. The meetings minimize disaster (and, as anyone on a set will attest, even a minor glitch can lead to disaster when a production's moving as fast as it can). Production meetings keep everyone on the same page and reduce the possibility of disaster.
As stated above, the production meeting keeps creative teams organized, ensuring all parties move in the same direction and, regardless of a person's role in the next phase, increases the chance everyone ends up at the same point in the process.
The meeting is invaluable in making key decisions about the day-to-day process.
Now, the meeting's goal has to be to design an engaging, cohesive, and entertaining platform to further production. Unfortunately, most participants find production meetings unproductive, boring, long, and tedious. Still, production meetings are absolutely necessary. Leaders — producers, directors, production managers, etc. — must find ways to keep meetings moving at a nice clip that inspires and creates meaningful and detailed results.
Here's what can help accomplish this.
Not everyone has the skill to effectively manage a production meeting. It asks for discipline, creativity, communicative talent, and taking charge. But, with the right tools, anyone can develop and master the skill.
Running a production meeting requires understanding how to effectively manage time, thoroughly cover the topics, and ensure all participants get heard. Participants appreciate someone that knows how to keep a meeting moving smoothly and quickly.
No one's ever disappointed when a meeting ends early. Meetings go long and often it's because no one's managing time or content. No one should step outside their talking points. And managers should know how to politely push the production meeting agenda forward.
Ever walk out of a meeting wondering why you were invited in the first place?
That's usually because someone thought you should be there. But memos and updates are far more convenient, a sufficient way to inform about decisions and discussions that took place.
Adding parties to the list for the sake of convenience is a waste of manpower. Invite only those with direct knowledge of the agenda. Otherwise, you have disparate groups that aren't relevant to the meeting's scope.
Have topics in order of importance. Agendas should stay focused. You want to keep the meeting inside of an hour but spend sufficient time on each topic, seamlessly moving to the next.
No matter how smoothly you think the meeting's going, others can have concerns, questions, or doubts. Before moving on, give everyone the chance to voice an opinion. Ask for questions. If you get crickets, go to the next topic. Respectfully derail wallflowers who want to go back to an old topic. That's distracting and hurts focus.
Create a distraction-free environment. There should be no distracting sounds or sights. Close the door. Shut any blinds so that attendees don't daydream about how nice it'd be if they were out there. Devices should only be out to record, take notes, and share information.
One difficult aspect of managing a production meeting is staying on task. Focus is paramount. But participants have things on their minds and often have no trouble even if unintentionally, sidetracking the conversation.
Be ready to steer the meeting back on track politely. Use statements like Tell me more after the meeting or Email us the details.
Someone should keep notes. Recording for accountability, reference, and transcription is a must.
One participant should take this role at production meetings (based on department, position, etc.).
Notes should be kept, stored, and distributed (using your production meeting app). With the right tech, notes, and minutes, you can share information seamlessly with interested and necessary parties. Now, everyone has clarification of accountability.
Meetings don't always turn into actions of gold. No production goes flawlessly. Anything can happen which means a meeting can jump off when no one's expecting it.
This is where an app that can help parties prepare accordingly helps. Alerts, updates, and quickly delivered notes will be invaluable to keeping the production on track.
Productions have general meetings involving primary persons from individual departments. Each department might have its own meeting. Emergencies could prompt a meeting with varied attendees.
In general, any of the following might be at the table.
Considering the scope of potential attendees, making sure everyone gets the production meeting agenda might not be as easy as it seems. Emails are just as easy to miss as to send. Forget handing out copies on a set. Handing out pieces of paper on a set flooded with tens of thousands of pieces of paper can be messy.
Rely on a single-source platform for keeping participants up-to-date. Alerts for scheduled and emergency meetings, agendas, the ability to share notes, or transmit important data for review beforehand all streamline the stress of preparing.
You want a solution that invites attendees, creates and sends reminders about events, and syncs with platforms like Office 365 and Google. You want auto-linkage to resources like Zoom.
Stage managers, producers, or whoever's running the show should generate a competent agenda that addresses relevant matters and manages time. The best way to conduct a production meeting is with an agenda. The easiest way to create a thought-provoking agenda is with a template.
Templates do this. A template helps the meeting address:
The moderator must understand they control the narrative. They have to be Switzerland and Congress at the same time: holding participants to time limits, keeping the group on the subject, ensuring the meeting hits all its talking points. And doing so in a timely manner.
A production meeting agenda lets you gauge the relevance of topics, how they impact the ongoing production, and how to manage crew, cast, and creatives to effectively reach goals.
That first meeting will be crucial. We're talking ground zero for effective project management across all aspects of the production. You must cover a variety of subjects that sets the tone for all production meetings (and the production itself).
While production meeting agendas don't have to be specifically standardized, the first one should be. In general, that first gathering needs to include the following.
There should be a welcome and show of appreciation and a brief introduction of all participants. For every new member that shows up during the production, introductions should be standard. (Never assume that all attendees know each other or their function.) Summarize what's to come and set the stage for timing.
There should be a list of key crew members, directors, performers, DOPs, food stylists, translators, local fixers, or any other talent.
Topics may include staff to bring on, shortlisting, confirmation of craft services, wardrobe and other styling matters, location planning, travel logistics, props and equipment, lodging, and so much more.
All participants at the table should have an understanding of what everyone else at the table does. Most people on set do have some comprehension of what a "set designer" or "props master" does. But do we know about "DITs," "General Operators," or "UPMs?
Staying on budget is arguably the most important component of any production. Everyone looks good when the production's on time but Christmas giddy when it's on budget.
How money's spent gets scrutinized by too many parties to track here. But no production meeting can afford to overlook where the budget is at any given moment.
Gatherings work better if there's at least one attendee who knows what's what on the financial end. That can be a producer or a supervisor from accounting who can break down what's happening with the money.
Deliverables and action items set up objectives for the project. That can be finding locales, building sets, or casting directors hiring performers. Deliverables include someone needing to quickly create documentation before the next meeting to show contracts were properly signed off.
Here are a group of frequently asked questions about production meetings.
A production meeting is the best and only way to ensure key players operate effectively. There's too much going on throughout production and it'd be easy to get lost in the pandemonium.
Any party that needs to be there. Productions may need different meetings to cover unique circumstances. A wardrobe artist doesn't need to be at an equipment meeting. Nor should a gaffer sit through a discussion about script changes.
All departments should have one a week to cover the bases. A lot of sets have daily, brief meetings to confirm what's happening on set the following day.
In the end, production teams should have their own meetings and department heads should sit at the table for meetings frequently. The scheduling ensures everyone in the production is always going in the same direction through collaborative efforts and smart planning.
As much as possible, but the moderator should manage as open a forum as possible. Ideas have to be openly encouraged but not to a point of taking the meeting hostage.
The properties director ought to be at most meetings. This team member is the lead behind identifying and satisfying all department needs. They oversee operations regarding shoppers, artisans, equipment, and other matters. It's unlikely any production meeting will not include a discussion under the properties director's purview.
The flow and success of your production meetings depend on sufficient prepping of the production meeting agenda.
Hugo services and products promote production, collaboration, tracking, and accountability. Hugo is the resource for making better use of every minute, getting through the talking points in a fast, informative manner, but not so fast that no one can keep up.
We're talking about flow, notes, effective Q&A, templates, remote capability, and, most importantly, project management where production meetings don't feel sluggish or leave a bad taste in the brain. Hugo provides everyone with resources for seamless, fast planning and execution.
Hugo creates actionable platforms in unison with the likes of Salesforce, Zoom, Slack, Shopify, Twitter, and Asana. Hugo integrates with CRM, project tools, video conferencing, and almost two dozen chat options.
In most cases, the app doesn't even require users to sign up to avail themselves of Hugo's advantages.
Hugo is an award-winning option platform.
Hugo helps everyone show up prepared, resulting in smoother collaborative transactions within teams.
Manage notes, tasks, and calendars effortlessly in one place across all teams. Get ready for Hugo to use the latest and greatest to supercharge your production meetings. Over 30,000 organizations — including Netflix and Uber — use Hugo to strip their gatherings of stress.
If you're ready to see how and for whom we've done this, reach out and get Hugo today.
Having a hard time keeping your meeting attendees engaged? Try out these tactics to start your next meeting on the right foot.
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