We spoke with Toni Tillmann, Director of Photography at Tillmann Brothers Film Production, about why Yamdu is the best film production management solution.

"There's not really a lot of thinking to do now - we know that we are going to start the process off in Yamdu and everybody knows the steps that are coming up."

Toni Tillmann, Director of Photography at Tillmann Brothers Film Production

What problems were you encountering before you started using Yamdu?

Working on so many different projects means it's hard to develop a structure that fits all types of projects, especially in terms of managing your crew and managing your locations, your files and call sheets and all of that. Everybody who was working on a project was doing their own thing, like setting up their own excel pages, their own documents, their own calendars and all of those things.

We tried a couple of different solutions, but they didn't really work for us.

What about Yamdu?

We have a ton of different formats that we have to deliver and that's where Yamdu comes into play for us.

Yamdu has this structure that is really straightforward, categorising every department and every step of a production very clearly – crew, actors, calendars, tasks, locations, set designs. These are the things you need to organise for people working on a team and Yamdu keeps it easy to track everything. For example, we can just tell a member of the team to research locations in Norway and then that person drops a few examples in Yamdu and the rest of us can look through them – it's very easy for us to have this structure that works.

What's also very useful is that there's a simplified structure that's the same for every part of the software, the folder structure, no matter if it's a task or a location or an actor, everything has the same logic behind it. Once you get used to it everything else follows the same logic.

How did people find working with Yamdu?

I tested it out pretty thoroughly before sharing it with everyone – we had a big, year-long documentary project coming up so it was important to have a structure for that – and when I presented it to everyone they understood that I was pretty convinced by Yamdu so they were not really questioning it.

It depends on how people used to address their own logistics before using Yamdu – some people find it easier to write down a task on a piece of paper and glue it to their iMac screen, but it's better if it is accounted for somewhere.

Can you tell us more about the project you mentioned earlier?

I cannot say too much right now but it focuses on extreme sports and is a mixture of documentary footage and scripted scenes. Working with fictional content mixed with documentary you are putting a lot of elements together – action sports photography and time lapse footage or cultural content.

At times you are out with the team and creating things in real time and other times everything is completely scripted to the last shot and that is something that is very demanding for a production software to tackle because sometimes you work with a script, sometimes with assets only or with a very rough outline like the crew being on location with a certain task. It is very, very tricky and that is where we ran into a lot of limitations with other software because it's very strictly developed for scripted content where you can only use scenes and shots. With Yamdu we were able to talk a lot with the support team and my idea for asset management eventually developed into Content Items in the breakdown area.

I described the situation – we have a script with a scene and then content like still photography, interviews, behind the scenes footage – how am I going to schedule that with a system based on classic script breakdowns? The introduction of Content Items changed everything for us because now we can have classic script elements and combine this with all sorts of content items from random assets that are super important for us to get for our project. So we are putting together b-roll footage, athlete interviews and photography and all of these things that are hard to define and that's one of the features that is central for us.

How has Yamdu impacted your workflow?

I think it's important sometimes to let go of your previous style of thinking and just adapt to what the software is giving you. And so far we've been really happy with Yamdu and all of the features.

Is there any particular function or feature that has been useful for you?

The way we have been able to manage locations has been very helpful for us. Especially the way you can add some location suggestions, then rate them individually and then fix the location you want as the one you will use. It's super cool for us because without cluttering things up we can add as many locations as we want, have people review and rate them and then fix the location that works best. That makes the whole process a lot easier for us because it means you don't lose anything along the way.

Does using Yamdu help to speed up the preproduction process?

For sure, there's not really a lot of thinking to do now - we know that we are going to start the process off in Yamdu and everybody knows the steps that are coming up. There are no questions about how we are organising locations, how we are organising the team, what are the call-sheets going to look like – everything is already structured in our minds and we go from there – there's always a pre-set workflow that we are going to take.

If you were recommending Yamdu to other people, why would you say it's worth using the system.

First of all, I think it's useful for people who are unused to the workflow of a production house. Even if someone doesn't have the background in film or the structure needed to organise a bigger production that's where a software like Yamdu is very productive because it gives you the structure and reminds you about all the things you need to do. Instead of having to think of everything or remember every step along the way, there's a sense of security knowing there is nothing that will jeopardise the project.

You can contact Toni via t.tillmann@momentpictures.com.