Planning An
Efficient Shooting Schedule

By Ruba Nadda with Vanessa Tam

You might have heard some tricks of the trade, but you’d still be astonished by director and writer, Ruba Nadda, for shooting TIFF’s 2009 Best Canadian Feature Film, Cairo Time in only 25 days! Nadda and her crew set out to Cairo, amidst 25 million people inhabiting the city, they battled the heat, censorship, uncontrollable shooting locations, and perhaps the most problematic of all, poor dry cleaning services – and of course, all the sightseeing they had to do on the film set.

Cairo Time is not an exception; Nadda’s Sabah (2005) was shot in Toronto in only 20 days! With her reputation of speedy shoots, which of course, come from excellent
planning - we can now pick her brain for five tips on how to plan an efficient filming

 1 - Don't be wooed by credentials.

Make sure you're putting together a team that will go to the ends of the earth for
you. Hire people you trust, and that have your back. Make sure they all fully
understand your creative vision. A lot of first time directors getting wooed by famous
DoPs and editors, etc - The most important thing is to develop 'your' team.

99 Minute Film School 2 - Spend one month with your DoP and shot list.

At the beginning of each scene, explain what that scene is about in one line ONLY.
Then send that shot list to the producer, line producer, 1st AD and editor to double
check you and the DoP didn't miss anything and that everyone else implements the
shot list into the schedule and budget. Make sure you plan this before any filming

3 – Keep everyone on the same page at all times.

Put a little booklet together comprised of the shot list, schedule, script, synopsis, and
your director’s vision - then give it to EVERYONE, the whole crew (not the cast) so
that EVERYONE is on the same page.

4 – Get your actors to your characters.

Spend time with your lead actors and make sure all philosophical discussions about
their character is done well before you ever step foot on the film set. Make sure you
answer all their questions BEFOREHAND.

5 - Be decisive on set.

Once a shot is set up, don't change your mind. The cast and
crew love it when a director is decisive. Don't flip flop. Don't get bullied either.

An extra for the road!

Make sure fittings happen BEFORE you ever get to the set -
when a skirt fit wrong one day on Cairo Time, it took away a crucial hour of our
filming time. And never ever dry-clean the outfits. On my last two films - dresses
have come back shrunk!

Your Comments Please

Great article
Following these tips will help directors fully develop the visual potential of their scripts and also keep the production on schedule and in budget, whilst still allowing for serendipitous moments to be captured on set.

Chris Bairstow DoP
Reel/ CV
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About Ruba Nadda

Ruba NaddaRuba Nadda is a critically and internationally acclaimed Canadian filmmaker.  Cairo Time (2009) had its worldwide premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (2009) as a Special Presentation where it was also awarded Best Canadian Feature Film. It is having a U.S. theatrical release this coming summer (2010) by IFC. Cairo Time is set in Egypt with producers Daniel Iron and Killer Films and starring Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig.
Her films include Sabah (starring Arsinee Khanjian) and 13 shorts (Aadan, Blue turning grey over you, Black September, I would suffer cold hands for you, Laila, Slut, Damascus nights, The wind blows towards me particularly, So far gone, Do nothing, Wet heat drifts through the afternoon, Interstate love story, lost woman story) Her films have been shown over 500 times in film festivals around the world with over 30 retrospectives of her work. She is currently working on her next two feature films with Daniel Iron and Christine Vachon as producers.

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Planning An Efficient Shooting Schedule