The 4 Day Week

Post production is all based on schedules that are planned, evolved, budgeted and locked…..
Until they aren’t… Sometimes a sudden prolonged delay to start dates can be financially crippling for production crew – at least in post we usually get warning, and thankfully I haven’t suffered any of those although I know people who have waited six months for a big shoot to actually start… Imagine that: subsisting for six months, waiting for the call…. (And as a word of warning, in my experience it is a bit like an inverted bell curve: the larger (or smaller) the project the more likely they are to have large variations in schedule)

Anyway this particular film I was totally committed to and had turned down other work for, so when the post supervisor called to suggest a 2 week delay to our start date I was less than thrilled. Until… she suggested another solution to twiddling our thumbs for two weeks:
4 day weeks!

We were booked for a 4 month period so a two week delay equates to ten working days, so instead of being skint for 2 weeks (it was too short notice to drum up new work, with no notice) for the next ten weeks I did 4 day weeks. And guess what? It was fantastic!

Imagine that, you start a project you love and you get paid (proportionally less but still…) AND you get 3 day weekends for 10 weeks! So ever since I’ve kept in my VERY conscious mind that any suggested delays in future won’t mean an actual delay, they will just mean we adopt a schedule of 4 day weeks until the delay evens out. And those 4 day weeks are VERY welcome! Because a 4 day week = a 3 day weekend!

a photo from my 3 day weekend in Paekakariki

So much of what we do in the early weeks of a schedule are not affected by picture changes. Listing FX to be recorded, building the specific ambience library for the film and layering scenes/locations, recording vehicles and FX and ambiences. It isn’t like when they lock the cut suddenly all the locations are going to change. An awful lot of work can be done with a very unlocked picture, especially when you know it is unlocked. And it is also a chance to get temp FX to picture editorial and allow sound the opportunity to influence the cut…

So for my current project (a beautiful documentary shot in Antartica over literally the last decade) when it came to negotiating a mix schedule it soon became apparent that we would be wise to be flexible with the schedule, i.e. mix later than we planned. And what does that mean? You got it: 4 day weeks!

Antarctica: A Year on Ice trailer 2 from Anthony Powell on Vimeo.

And that is why ever other weekend I email photos to Facebook from some remote rural beach…. It is still summer in New Zealand, but its nearing the end of summer and accordingly it is time to savour the long days, warm temperatures & freedom that summer encourages.

So if you are currently locked into a demanding 5+ day schedule, for months on end, what would you do with a 3 day weekend? How about 10 of them in the a row? Bliss! (Another useful bit of sage advice: if your budget is tight then your schedule should not be. Its like the classic saying: fast, cheap, good – choose two.)

a photo from my 3 day weekend in Patea – shooting timelapse of the S.S. Waitangi

I’ve discovered a few other things 4 day weeks are very good for, especially to do with field recording – more soon! Viva le 4 day revolution!


ps here is another tip: if you alternate the schedule of two 4 day weeks ie MTWT followed by TWTF you get something even more magic than a 4 day week ie a 4 day weekend!

pss ever complain about the wind? It happens a bit in windy Wellington… but not on this scale:

One Response to The 4 Day Week

  1. Interesting thoughts on (the sanity!?) of a 4-day week!! I’d love to try that out sometime (in the world of picture editing!) … BUT even MORE fantastic clip from Antarctica! Really enjoyed seeing that! Thanks for posting it!!

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