Pro Tips from a Production Coordinator on Monster Hunter
Bronwyn Morris has worked on several projects, including The Kissing Booth and Maze Runner. More recently, she worked as a Production Coordinator on Monster Hunter and Prisoner 760, two productions powered by SetKeeper. We had a chat with her to learn more about her career and her experiences during those productions.
Being a Production Coordinator
Bronwyn always loved watching movies. Two of her favorite movies are The Prestige (“It’s a beautiful movie and a really cool story chopping between time”) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (“They create dreamlike environments really well on screen.”)
However, she never considered it as a career until a friend talked about her media studies. “I remember thinking, ‘how can a 1.5 hour long movie take 6 or more weeks to make?’ It’s such a massive beast! So much work and time goes into creating one movie. It wasn’t something I always wanted to do but I was always interested in it.” So she took a 1 year condensed course of film studies and started her adventures in film production.
“Your organization has to be completely on point otherwise it’s going to take 10 times longer to do anything.”
As a Production Coordinator, Bronwyn prioritizes communication with the crew to ensure no one is left out. She appreciates that the role of a PC changes depending on the team and the project. No matter what, the PC plays the role of chief organizer; you need to be very organized on a massive scale. Communication is key; you need to make sure everyone has the same accurate information as quickly as possible.
The smallest details can have a big impact — one misplaced email can spell disaster for a production. The role of a PC is to make sure the entire crew has the most accurate, up-to-date information as quickly as possible. Bronwyn points out that it’s preferable to have previous experience in film production so you’re familiar with all the equipment you’ll need to rent, the lead times for delivery, etc. Starting as a production assistant is a great way to understand how things work and will give you the experience you need to succeed as a PC. It’s not something you can learn from a book!
Shooting in a VFX movie in South Africa and the current situation in the film industry
Bronwyn explained that VFX movies become logistical movies, with a lot of moving parts to coordinate in very remote locations in the middle of the desert. In that environment, planning ahead is essential.
Shooting in South Africa provides not only financial benefits (including a favorable exchange rate) but also a variety of landscapes — mountains and deserts are only a few hours apart. In addition, South Africa has a large number of experienced production professionals, so producers can hire a world class crew for a fraction of the price.
Fortunately, Bronwyn’s productions weren’t impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak since they were wrapped before the pandemic occurred. However, she doesn’t think the film industry will slow down any time soon. The demand for content is just going to increase: the more there is the more people want.
“The pandemic definitely slowed things down from a production point of view but gives writers lots of time to put out good content. There will be a scramble in a few years. In this day and age everything is so instant and my job will change because things will have to happen even faster than they are, which doesn’t allow for a lot of mistakes. You have to know what you’re doing and why so you can prioritize what needs to be done and when.”
Producing with SetKeeper
The first project, Monster Hunter, is based on the video game “Monster Hunter World”. As a very effects-driven movie, many parts were shot with a green screen while the rest was shot in Cape Town, South Africa. Monster Hunter was produced by the German production company Constantin which specializes in these types of movies, including the Resident Evil movies. Prisoner 760 was also shot in South Africa, and a small portion in Mauritania.
To Bronwyn, SetKeeper “is a very good paper trail. One of the great things is that you guys are always so flexible and willing to help. If you need to start the production earlier or later, there’s always someone here to help. For example, I needed a distro list after we had wrapped our movie, even after the subscription expired, and we [still] got it.”
Her team was already using SetKeeper when she joined the project: “It would be very hard to run a production without distribution lists, without being able to send sides — you can’t do it by yourself. You would need a full time person watermarking PDFs. In South Africa, we often have internet issues and being able to automate emails […] is very useful. Script sides are also very helpful: you can pull out things in an instant without using a pdf search.”
“I’ve used a couple other tools but I find that SetKeeper is the most intuitive and customizable for your needs. Many systems have similar processes in place but they might not have the same capabilities. And if there is something I find that I needed, I could always email someone from SetKeeper who could answer my questions and offer solutions really quickly […] Setkeeper is typically very open to helping and to trying to modify things if it’s within their power. The processes on SetKeeper are just much more streamlined and simpler [than other programs] which makes it quick. You want to get the information out and make sure it’s going to the right people at the right time.”
Regarding the future, Bronwyn is interested in moving into unscripted TV. “I definitely want to work in unscripted stuff. Survivor is my […] ultimate goal. I just love the show so much. It’s just evolved as it goes on. From a production point of view it also changes all the time. They aren’t writing the narrative, but they have to edit it to tell a story. You’re having to change based on the demands of the day. They’ve got it down to a fine art.
She’d also love to work with Reese Witherspoon and Elizabeth Banks, since they are both actors who moved into the production realm..“As female filmmakers they add a lot of credence to their work and look at things from a different lens. The transition from in front of to behind the camera is cool and they’ve developed enough clout that they can tell the stories that are really interesting to them.”