Obstacles - house shootAfter producing a couple of our own things, we wanted to try our hand at producing someone else’s project. Lucky for us, we met a lovely lady by the name of Geeta Sehgal at Yegfilm and it just so happened she was writing a short about an anxious woman who had to confront one of her fears by crossing a bridge high above an Edmonton ravine to support her friend’s exhibit opening.

Geeta’s script arrived soon after we mentioned our interest in producing and we were off and running. Of course, this meant trying to standardize the process and forms we had begun crafting and putting to use on our pilot episode of Startups. Our challenge was to make sure the things we were doing as a duo would make sense to someone else working on the project and help us all accomplish the goal of bringing Geeta’s idea to screens.

More about what we learned, and the movie itself, after the jump.

Obstacles from Geeta on Vimeo.

One helpful thing we learned:

Map out the steps of production.

Whether you use a Word document, a giant wall-sized piece of paper, a Trello board, or something else, we were definitely on top of things by laying out the steps needed to get the cast and crew together, shoot the movie, and then edit and distribute. While most communication between us and the director, Geeta, happened through email, we also met with Geeta twice before shooting. One of those meetings also included the cinematographer, Curtis Alexander.

The meetings were a good opportunity to check on where things were at, what was missing or yet to be done, and things we maybe hadn’t thought of checking on to that point (like, say, where was everyone going to park and congregrate on a shoot happening out in a busy neighbourhood – thanks High Street Starbucks!).

A second helpful thing we learned:

Get more than enough coverage or b-roll shots.

Much like our experience with Startups, you can never have enough exterior and establishing shots. It’s really going to pay off when editing, in case you need to break up a scene or transition smoothly.

Another helpful thing we learned:

Apply the same deadline-driven method of pre-production and shooting to the post-production.

We moved fairly quickly to put Obstacles into production. And the shooting was planned out, including shot lists, to make sure we got everything we needed over a weekend. Then it came to editing the movie. And we lost the plan.

There were setbacks with an audio syncing program and our first editor’s attempt didn’t yield what we thought was needed before he headed back to school. But our real mistake in post-production was to be a little too lenient with time. We didn’t say things like “The first cut has to be done by such and such a date” or “The final cut is needed by this date to submit to this festival” and the move kind of languished for a little bit.

Next time, we know how important the post-production schedule is going to be, and to make clear which creative roles have input at what stage, in order to get the movie out the door quicker. This wasn’t a major problem with this particular short film but it did end up being a good learning experience.

Some of our bridge crossing extras on a sunny shoot day.

Some of our bridge-crossing extras on a sunny shoot day. Prop crutches asides, nobody was injured in the making of Obstacles.

The short was selected to screen at the season finale of Metro Shorts.

The short was selected to screen at the season finale of Metro Shorts.

*We didn’t originally post the video here because Obstacles was in the process of being submitted to film festivals and a lot of them ask to hold off on publicly posting the movie. UPDATE: The video was posted December 22, 2014.