Amid the pandemic a brave team of filmmakers is currently shooting a true passion project: WRONG REASONS. Behind the camera, the amazing production team consisting of David Shapiro (Semkhor Productions), Matthew Rowbottom, Landon Thorne, Liv Roush (Anticurrent Films) and well-known filmmaker Kevin Smith are pulling together to make this vision by writer and director Josh Roush come to life.
The team has been using Yamdu since early in pre-production and during a break we had a chance to ask Liv and David to share their experiences with the software and tell us more about this ambitious project.
"Yamdu helps us to stay on track with everything and avoid any surprises that might threaten our tight budget."
Liv Roush, Producer, Wrong Reasons
WRONG REASONS seems to be quite a ride! Tell us more about the plot and the background of the project.
David Shapiro (DS): Sure. The movie is all about Kat – a rising star in punk rock. As problems are her second name and drugs play an important part of that - her life changes all of a sudden when an ambiguously intentioned man in a bear-mask kidnaps her while she is - as usual - totally doped-up. Detective Dobson, a former actor turned police officer and a cut-throat reporter called Martin form a suspicious alliance as the desire for fame and screen time trump their objective of solving the case.
Liv Roush (LR): And we are so proud of our incredible cast. There is Ralph Garman (Ted, Eagle Eye, Two for the Money) and Matt Passmore (13 Reasons Why, Saw 8:Jigsaw) and many others.
DS: What's quite special is that behind the scenes, we actually have a small team.
Due to COVID? Does the pandemic affect the shooting and the workflow?
DS: Absolutely. In a normal year, making a low budget feature would be a challenge. But doing so during a record setting heat wave and a pandemic? It's crazy. As a team, our determination to make this film has been so strong that we have been able to meet every challenge safely, effectively and creatively. We are strictly following the safety guidelines of both Los Angeles County and SAG-AFTRA. The cornerstone of SAG's safety guidelines is testing. We are required to test our cast 24-48 hours before their first report to set, then every 72 hours subsequently. When you have 28 cast members and an unusual shooting schedule which stretches over six weeks, you can imagine how complicated scheduling tests would become.
LR: This is where Yamdu came in to save the day. David set me up with access to his Yamdu platform very early in pre-production. Initially, it was the shooting schedule that I found most useful. I imported my previous schedule and I actually found that moving strips was easier and more intuitive with Yamdu compared to Movie Magic.
When we had to begin plotting out our cast testing schedule, I explored Yamdu's production calendar function and found it to be incredibly helpful. With our unit-based shooting schedule, I was able to plot out the required testing schedule and consolidate testing dates and locations cost effectively. I love a Gantt chart and this was the first Gantt scheduling chart I've ever used that allowed you to so simply drag and drop. It saved me a LOT of time.
Can Yamdu save time and money – especially in such crazy times where online preparation seems almost like a must?
LR: Yes, indeed. As of today, we're five days in and we have had 0 COVID scares. We’re using a private lab who come to set to test our cast and then provide results within 24-48 hours. I won’t lie – it's expensive. We had to make cuts in other departments and revise our budget to make funds available for the extensive testing schedule. Looking back, I am so glad we did. Our cast feel safe and I feel assured knowing that I'm providing a secure workspace. And Yamdu helps us to stay on track with everything and avoid any surprises that might threaten our tight budget.
Can you think of some key benefits when working with Yamdu? How does it differ from previous projects?
DS: Honestly, it is a bit of a new workflow. I've been working in the industry for quite a while. In the beginning it's hard to get used to new things. However, using Yamdu has helped to create a work environment that not only enables us to organize the content but also to maintain a balance without the hassle of trying to keep up with everything. The core tools for each crew member are available at the click of a button and the easy access to communication helped our production come together faster. Kind of "help yourself, it's all there."
LR: Yamdu provided a way for us to create with ease. Using Yamdu provided a secure way to save information online and edit it to our needs. Every crew member can assign themselves their own category and be able to organize the work needed. Our workflow had a way of telling each person what their specific job needed and what they should look for. Having a layout to see the film's progress gave us a chance to make sure that everyone was on the same page working efficiently with Yamdu's wide range of features. It's by far the most complete solution for media producers out there.
DS: Yes. It is a really good platform and is amazing for collaboration. It was fascinating to dive into it – very useful for bigger productions. It seems like it is a multipurpose system used for commercials, TV and anything entertainment related.
LR: As a filmmaker you kind of stick to habits, I guess. I am used to tools like Movie Magic. And I just can tell, that for scheduling the scripts, Yamdu was helping me to drop in from my Movie Magic schedule real quick and I was amazed how easy it sorted out the script for us and made it manageable to separate each scene.
That's great to hear. So, in general, do you think the industry will be a different one after 2021?
DS: In 2020, COVID-19 came at us like a hurricane, stopping all productions, work, and gatherings from happening months at a time. It knocked our industry back but it has not stopped us from doing what we love, making films. We have to keep going as great entertainment is needed more than ever before.
LR: Of course, as long as restrictions are in place, the process is quite exhausting. While following COVID guidelines, Yamdu has presented itself to us as a way to ensure you can continue creating films in an organized fashion. Without a central hub like Yamdu, most productions would not be able to continue their journey to make content and be able to continue making a living. One challenge we had with production was testing the crew and figuring out if it was in line with SAG regulations. Yamdu has helped us keep up with that and maintain a safe work environment.
Can you describe the workflow in a bit more detail from your perspective as a producer?
LR: I got to do a lot of things that coordinators would usually do. So we were using the calendar feature and, you know, all departments are in the system, so they know immediately when they are up for testing, for instance. All is logged and tracked in one big production calendar. And the crew is notified if changes are made. Much better than a Google Calendar or something like that. And that's true for the entire process. From the easy ingestion of the script, the process of assigning actors and actresses to roles, adding wardrobe, props and locations - all that carries the same simplicity of laying out a production schedule, shot lists, and everything else on the way to the call sheets. And you can even message the entire crew or narrow it down to a specific department which is immensely valuable for keeping everyone on the same page.
Will you continue using Yamdu – also after the pandemic?
DS: No. [laughs]. Just kidding.
LR: We will definitely be using this program for future projects! It's simple and versatile.
DS: We will and we will recommend it to everyone we work with. You guys are doing a great job as you know how to modernize workflows and bring our crazy industry to the cloud - and you are familiar with the needs of production crews. That's a rare combination.
Thank you for your time. Our team is keeping fingers crossed for the final weeks of production for WRONG REASONS. We cannot wait to see the movie.
The SEMKHOR team also provides courses and tuition from film industry insiders as part of The Content Academy. You can find out more about what they offer here.