Nothing seems easier than to shoot a soap !
If you want to shoot a soap, all you need to do is plan, plan, plan. And stick to that plan. You’ll be needing “a few” essentials. First of all you’ll need screenplays. One for every episode, you don’t need them all at once. They can come in at a regular pace and well advanced in time. Ours come in at a steady pace of five every week.
Once the screenplays come in, we read them for obvious errors, problems. Then they go to the printer because everyone in our team will need a copy.
After that I read them again. And again. I make a thorough breakdown and check the timing. My assistant will do the same. He/she will do breakdown, check the timing, and make a continuity.
After that we have a design meeting. We check all major changes: new characters, new locations, twists in the story, big events (parties, accidents, special effects and how to shoot those.)
Any problem that goes unsolved before you go into the studio, will come to haunt you later on!
Next I will start to block every scene in the 10 screenplays I will do next. 18 scenes per episode x 10 episodes: 180 scenes to block. Each scene has an average of 20 shots. So that is 3600 shots to block. I have been doing this since 2002, now I can block any scene with my eyes closed, but I don’t.
I will draw floor plans of most every scene.
This way the floormanager or my assistant can start basic set ups. The Director of Photography will be able to prepare his lighting plan in advance.
When I go into a large or complexe scene on location I most often draw a complete storyboard.
Out of all this come lists of shots, so I can shoot out of chronology if there isn’t much time.
After that we do a reading with the actors, but most are so experienced I can even skip that when things get to hectic in other director’s schedules.
Next is the location shoot and then I go into studio. That is a disappearance trick, my friends and family don’t see me for 2 to 3 weeks. I get up at 5:30 am and come home at around 7:30 pm, time for a bite and it is bedtime for me. Somebody has to know what you are doing when you are in studio.
Oh yes, we have six directors on the soap and we shoot 220 episodes per year… So if you want to shoot a soap, you better come in prepared !
So let’s have a look at the different steps we take. Come and join me as I go on a 3 week shoot.