Line Producer and Executive In Charge, Steve Gruskin, has been involved in a number of different productions throughout his career. He reveals the secrets to his success in using Yamdu to outline and plan his projects: Wings Over Water and Dirty Rotten Cleaners.

The key for me is that it's scalable, so you can adapt Yamdu according to the type of project, which I think a lot of systems can't do.

Steve Gruskin, Line Producer and Executive In Charge

 

Can you start off by giving us a brief introduction about yourself and your line of work?

I am a Line Producer and Executive In Charge, and I’ve been working in TV production for a long time. So you can say that my work encompasses various different types of productions like TV shows, documentaries, and things like that.

What are some recent projects you have been working on?

So I actually used Yamdu for both of my most recent projects. We just finished wrapping up on a feature called Wings Over Water which is a large-scale, nature documentary narrated by Michael Keaton. The other project was a reality TV series called Dirty Rotten Cleaners, which had a completely different type of workflow in comparison to the film.

Photo credit: Wings Over Water Film Crew - Canvasback female with ducklings
Photo credit: Wings Over Water Film Crew - Canvasback female with ducklings

Can you tell us what your process is like?

I typically start by creating a general schedule on the calendar, then get more specific and start making a shooting schedule by creating shooting scenarios, which we would then turn into a call sheet. 

What’s really impressive about the call sheet was the amount of time we saved. Instead of the coordinator spending over two hours in excel, we could use the shooting schedule to create stripboards for a day which were easy to use and edit. 

There was no need to give everyone in the crew a schedule, since they could find all that in Yamdu. The best part of the software is the auto population function. I could do the work and pass it on like a baton to the person responsible for doing the call sheets. There was no need to sit down with them in a 30 minute meeting to discuss everything again. Honestly, it was a huge timesaver for these things, as it cuts out the unnecessary, repetitive action of explaining everything from the beginning.

Were there any major differences with how you worked on the film in comparison to the series?

The key for me is that it's scalable, so you can adapt Yamdu according to the type of project, which I think a lot of systems can't do. Every producer knows that each production is different, and it's really hard to have a tool that would modify itself to the needs of your production. So it made things that much easier to go from filming a TV series to a nature documentary without any issue. There weren't really any major differences in our workflow as we used the same features for both projects, namely the scheduling and call sheets more than anything else.

So Yamdu was used more so as a production management tool, and in our case anything surrounding scheduling was our main focus. One of the other main things was the location database. We used that function frequently throughout the shooting of the documentary, and input all the information for our team.

How did you actually first discover Yamdu and what were your impressions of the software?

Well, I was always looking for film management tools, and I use the Showbiz software quite a bit, so I saw Yamdu listed through Media Services and decided to try it. I was really impressed with the software and all the different features it had.

But among many things, the calendar feature is something that really stood out to me. You know, just to output one in a standard format in Excel or Google Drive takes a lot of time. The fact that it was so easy to lay out a calendar, input all the information, then export it for the networks who wanted one - that feature alone was super valuable and made everything 1,000 times easier. There’s really no other program out there that does what Yamdu can do.

Photo credit: Wings Over Water Film Crew - Director Producer DOP Andrew Young films sandhill crane
Photo credit: Wings Over Water Film Crew - Director Producer DOP Andrew Young films sandhill crane

Were the crew actively involved in Yamdu?

The crew definitely had access to view all the call sheets and calendars, but it was mainly myself, the production managers, and post supervisors who were actively using Yamdu. Basically, I would make a draft call sheet, then pass that work onto the producer. And I really wasn’t worried about having someone else pick up where I left off because the software makes it possible to continue on with the work - we never experienced any breaks in the workflow and nothing ever got lost.

And do you see yourself using Yamdu for future projects?

I work for a lot of different production studios, so I usually ask whether they’re willing to pay for Yamdu. But yes, I would definitely use the software for all my projects, especially for the production management department.