MY 10 STEP CHECKLIST TO A MAGNIFICENT CHECKLIST
Do you like surprises? I do when they’re good surprises. I hate bad surprises. So I figured out pretty early in my career how to work with a checklist so I could reduce the bad surprises and leave lots of room for the good ones.
This is not the only way to do it, but it’s the one that works for me:
1) Establish a consistent workspace. I use a yellow legal pad because yellow is easy to find when you’ve put it down to clamber up a hill to check out a location. I used to carry around a fancy leather-bound notebook, but then I realized I wasn’t impressing anybody.
2) Put the date on the top of the first empty page and then make a list. Write down all the stuff you can think of that needs to be taken care of. It doesn’t matter if nobody else can understand the line item as long as you can.
3) Next to each item, make a square.
4) If a task has sub-tasks –– for example, different wardrobe items that need to be picked up –– I like to make a main item that might say “pick up wardrobe” and underneath it, indented a bit, I’ll list each individual item that needs to be picked up.
5) When something is in the process of being done, make a diagonal line from one corner of the square to the other. This could mean I left a message and am waiting to hear back, the insurance company promised they’d send me certificates of insurance, or I delegated a task to someone and am waiting for confirmation that they did it.
6) If you need to write notes, keep contact information, add account numbers, or otherwise put details to the stuff you’re working on, use the next blank page.
7) When something is completed, make another diagonal line in the box to turn your slash into an X. If an item goes away –– say the PA you were going to hire calls in sick –– cross off that line item. As you think of new things that need to get done –– like replacing the sick PA –– add them to the bottom of the list.
8) At the end of the day, just before you drop off to sleep, move all the items on the list that are either in progress or need to be done to the next blank page. Then snap a photo of the list so you have a backup in case your notepad goes missing.
9) Then fold up the bottom corner of the page you just worked on. Always fold the corner in the same way so you can go back and find your lists easily if you need them. I also write the date on the folded corner so I can go back and easily find stuff that belongs to a particular date.
10) Repeat this process every single day. Even if you’re two weeks out from prep and especially the day you wrap. I know you’re tired. You had a big day. But the last thing you need the day after you wrap is to get stuck with an extra day’s rental on a piece of equipment because you didn’t remember to return it on time.
That picture up there is the actual checklist from the day before I produced and directed my last shoot.
Brian Belefant is a director who also does a damn fine job as a producer. Why not give him a call at (503) 715 2852 or send an email to belefant (at) me (dot) com?