Many ‘problems’ are clear from the outset. Don’t dodge them – talk to your producer/production manager and director as early as possible so your concerns are understood and contingency plans can be set in place. Keep in mind that your fee only covers a certain amount of hours so anything out of your control that pushes those hours up is a potential threat to your livelihood.
Some factors that are likely to take more unplanned time include:
- Underdeveloped scripts, or scripts that are still in the process of being developed make it difficult to plan and meet deadlines. Work with the director and production manager to develop a tailored design schedule and strategy. This may mean you can commit to some aspects of the design (for the parts of the script that are more established) and keep developing the design for aspects that are less certain.
- Casting late, or challenging performer requirements (less-common fitting requirements, allergies, availability for fittings…).
- Commitment clashes – where your deadlines on one production clash with another. Work out a schedule that shows how you are going to manage the clash, and share this information early with your team.
- Script demands that are not achievable within the budget. You can help your director come to terms with what is possible, and you can make cost-effective script or design suggestions.
- An indecisive or dictatorial director, or a director who has an extensive process of exploration. Use the early steps of your design process to establish what your director’s decision-making processes are, and how you can provide information to them in a way that helps them make decisions in a time-effective way. Keep your production manager abreast of your design development so they are aware of any issues early.