Making Critical Assumptions in Producing

February 15, 2016

New York Film Academy Los Angeles Producing Instructor Michael DeMeritt has produced, written and served as Assistant Director (DGA) on every form of production. His AD Credits include long runs in episodic television (Star Trek Voyager, Star Trek Enterprise, Close to Home, Make It or Break It), New Media (Sin City Saints) and Commercials. His Producing Writer efforts include many award winning regional and National Commercials (Life is Beautiful Campaign, Copperfit Campaign), reality series (Gen’s Guiltless Gourmet, The Real Trophy Wives), feature and short films (The Moneymaker) and New Media series (Biffle & Shooster).

Michael DeMeritt

Below is an accounting of DeMeritt’s lessons he designed for his Producing 1 course for MFA students at New York Film Academy in Los Angeles: The topic of discerning the requirements of a production by making “Critical Assumptions” based off the script and the anticipated needs of production.

To practice the craft, I had the students read the script for a short film I served as Line Producer on called “The Moneymaker.” Written by Alex Rueda and Devin Curry, and directed by Devin, the project had some unique situations including access to name cast but on a limited schedule, an ambitious stunt element for a short film, and opportunities to use some great locations under tight time restrictions. The class read the script aloud, not quite sure what to make of the tongue in cheek ode to 1980’s action films, and prepared a list of “Critical Assumptions,” preparing the students up for the time they would need to do the same for their own short films. I promised the class they would get to see the final product and discover how we dealt with our opportunities and limits before the course came to its close.

Alex Rueda
Alex Rueda

As good fortune would have it, the author and producer himself, Alex Rueda, was able to attend the Friday morning class in January of 2016. He shared stories of the difficulties of fundraising, dealing with angel investors who come with strings attached, planning on a limited budget, and the price paid and unexpected gems gleaned from having to shoot with little or no pre-production rehearsal. The Students tapped into his experience on everything from sound design to purchasing insurance for production equipment. Alex brought a high res copy of “The Moneymaker,” featuring John Delancy and Robert Piccardo, and the film would gain some recognition after winning “Best Action Short” at the L.A. Film Festival.

Michael DeMeritt

DGA 1st AD, Producer

Professor of Producing – NYFA

Our two-year accelerated MFA in Producing program is designed for students looking to develop the skills necessary to explore a career in production. Our program does a phenomenal job at breaking down the complicated tasks associated with media production and focuses on providing our students with hands-on learning opportunities.