The length of a film shoot is usually dependent on the budget. How many days can you afford to keep the cast and crew together, and pay for the rental of expensive film shooting equipment and vehicles? This restraint almost always conflicts with the amount of time a director would like to halve.
To make things worthwhile, make sure that:
- the actors are well prepared
- the staging and camerawork have been worked out,
- the shoot might not go as planned, so be prepared for adjustments to be made in the staging, the actors may require more takes, technical problems with equipment might occur, and mother nature may not be kind with weather!
So, how do directors ensure that they will have enough time?
There is no such insurance. But it is possible to draw up an informed and realistic schedule by taking into account the number of locations and the number of camera setups at each location.
Other factors to consider are the technical difficulties of scenes (dolly shots that require rehearsal), precision lighting, shooting in a public area you do not have complete control of, and the emotional weight of the scene. Actors should be given more time for the "big scenes" - the scenes that require emotional preparation or intricate staging.
Like anything in life, the more you direct, the better you get at it, and the more you can judge how much time you will need to fulfill your vision. Who said filmmaking was a piece of cake!