Script Breakdown, Centralized Workspace, Feature Film
JDG Entertainment describes their approach to organizing film and TV productions.
Jared Douglas studied film at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and founded JDG Entertainment in 2016. He also runs JDG Entertainment’s commercial subsidiary Particle | New York, and is currently putting the finishing touches on his debut feature film The Sound of the Wind.
"Yamdu is what the industry has been missing. It's the future in the way that it's able to automate and streamline the entire production process from development through delivery and distribution."
Jared Douglas Filmmaker from JDG Entertainment
Can you tell us about JDG Entertainment?
We are a boutique production company specializing in the creation of handcrafted entertainment. Specifically, with The Sound of The Wind, we wanted to tell a big story with a limited budget, and we were able to do that thanks to Yamdu.
What were the issues you were facing before finding Yamdu? What were you trying to solve?
I always found with production that it is just emails and documents and maybe the entire crew is in a production office but nothing is really centralized. Everything is a mess, it's all over the place. For me it was always about looking for something that could centralize and automate that process and that information.
When I first started looking at different programs, the biggest question was what's the functionality of each one? How many production processes did they cover? They were all focused on one element of production like call sheets or tasks, but the beauty of Yamdu is that it is a scalable solution. The more you use it, the more you get out of it, and since information is centralized, you don't have to go searching for anything. It's accessible everywhere.
Specifically with The Sound of The Wind, we were able to use Yamdu starting in development and through to distribution, keeping documents organized with a user interface that is easy to use for people who are new to the system.
It saves a production company a ton of time and money which are crucial resources on any project.
What are some of the features you have found useful?
I think one of the key functions is being able to add crew members and import information, like actors, locations and props, from other projects using the company database. It is a huge time saver and really simplifies things across a slate of projects.
From a production point of view though, one of the most crucial features – and this is something that the people I have worked with have said to me - is how the breakdown is sharable across the entire production so every department can edit it. It acts as a universal breakdown rather than having a situation where everyone is doing individual breakdowns and the information is then gathered afterwards. It allows you to connect with each department and see what they are doing, checking out the suggestions they have added for props or cast and being able to see the photos for each of those elements. It's all organized around the script too, so it's easy to look at each scene and see all the elements at once.
Those features really save every crew member a ton of time individually as they don't have to re-import information. But also from a creative standpoint, having all of that material there visually - being able to see exactly what the actor looks like or what the costumes are or what the hair and make-up is going to be - simplifies the creative decision-making process. Not to mention the paper it saves.
Where that makes Yamdu a crucial part of the production process is that you can break down the script in Yamdu during development and can use that for the preliminary budgets and schedules, becoming the basis for everything going forward - and over time that work can be adapted and built on rather than just tossed aside. That in itself might be such a small difference from a traditional workflow, but I think it revolutionizes the production process because it just reframes everything you do in a very beneficial way.
Are there any other features you have found useful?
Absolutely. When it comes to scheduling, you don't have to send out the production schedule constantly because everyone can see it in Yamdu. You're also not just looking at the shoot or post-production, you can work from development through to delivery items. You have a unified production schedule that can then connect with the shooting schedule instead of having 10 different schedules for the entire process.
All of this can be seen and adjusted in real time too. This is especially important when you are coordinating with the schedules of other projects because a production is not just a one-off thing, you are working on multiple projects at the same time so being able to see what's going on and figure out the scheduling over a slate of projects is very helpful.
I think that's the beauty of Yamdu overall. That everything is editable. Over the course of production so many things change from day to day, there are so many things that are out of your control and you can get annoyed about it or you can try to find a solution that allows you to adapt in real time.
How have you found inviting people to Yamdu?
For most people, it's very easy and intuitive to get into it. Other people are more hesitant to use it. I remember on The Sound of The Wind, a lot of people just jumped right in and loved it. Some people were saying "what the hell is this?" They were really confused but a week into it they would come back to me saying "this is the greatest thing in the world".
I remember our Make-Up Department Head initially was confused about what Yamdu was, but a week into the shoot she says to me: "I finally don't have to redo any breakdowns, I can put all the information in there and see it. It's saved my life".
I found over time that people really utilized the system just because it's easier. It was easier having everything centralized and not having to send a million emails. The system is set up in a way that, if you're willing to use it, I don't think there's much of a learning curve, it's really intuitive to use.
Can you tell me about The Sound of the Wind?
Yes. The Sound of The Wind is JDG Entertainment's first feature film. It's a suspenseful, slow-burning psychological thriller that plunges the audience into the center of a young man's fight with his paranoid delusions. Right now, we are in post-production on the project.
In terms of Yamdu, we really started utilizing the platform in development, putting in different drafts of the script and when that was completed, we were able to put the preliminary budget in there and used that to organize financing. It's really nice from a development and pre-production standpoint because it clearly outlines things – you can set what the budget is and then it visually shows you where you stand and how much more you need. It also allows you to specify the type of financing so you can see the specifics of each deal and you can also upload contracts and files to that.
Going back to what I said when I was originally looking for a platform, all of the other ones I was looking at were pretty much just focused on production, most of them didn't even touch post-production or development and I think that's where Yamdu excels. It's not just looking at the whole production process, but also looking at every single facet of it, including the business side. So being able to utilize that throughout the production in order to keep all of the files and documents centrally located really streamlined the process from development to the start of production which lasted just about a year.
During pre-production itself, what Yamdu really allowed us to do was create a virtual production office rather than a physical one. Everyone was off working in their own locations but we were still able to work more efficiently. We would obviously come together for production meetings but rather than have everyone in a production office, they could be off doing things that were relevant to their role or department. The art department could be off shopping and planning and wardrobe could be doing their thing which allowed more freedom and ultimately helped the film creatively.
One of the reasons we wanted to have a virtual production office rather than a physical one was that on this project the main character and therefore the crew, needed to travel around to a lot of different locations. As anyone in production knows, it's not easy to pick everything up and move it around. We were filming all over California, we travelled probably 3,000 miles in total, so by having Yamdu we didn't have to set up such a big infrastructure in each location with a whole department of assistant directors and production coordinators dealing with schedules and things like that. We had it all in one place and were able to stay nimble, moving around quickly.
Also, during preproduction and into production we were in a situation where we did not need all the positions a traditional feature may have since the platform was able to streamline a lot of the coordination between departments. All of this was able to save us a significant amount of money and allowed us to put the resources behind the creative work that you are going to see on screen, which ultimately leads to a better, more creative project.
Ultimately, it boils down to time, money and resources. Everyone who works in film knows that the bigger you get, the more everything expands exponentially. When you can control and minimize that, you save exponentially. That was what Yamdu was able to do for us, it was really easy to streamline everything and get rid of the excess.
If you were recommending Yamdu to someone, what would you say?
It's what the industry has been missing. It's the future in the way that it's able to automate and streamline the entire production process from development through delivery and distribution. It just makes your life a lot easier by taking away the excess and the bloat and making it easier to find what you need by putting everything in one place.
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