We are working closely with Production Minds. Their Production Minds Platform is a cloud-based creative collaboration tool for pre-production of scripted film and video, designed specifically for film and TV professionals. We've had the pleasure of sitting down with Gabor Kertai, PM's CTO and resident reneissance man, to hear more about their software and vision.
What's your background and why did you decide to start PM?
I started out as a software engineer, and was member of the founding party for some successful IT startups (LogMeIn being one notable example). Then I decided to pursue a childhood dream of mine, and took a career shift to become a professional filmmaker. Those twelve years I spent in various different roles, from focus puller in features to AD in music videos, and even did some creative editing and post supervision for TV commercials and shorts. I guess I wanted to try myself in all areas of the filmmaking process, which from the outside looks so magical. I have this constant urge to understand how the bits and pieces fit and work together. Being the tech-savvy guy that I am, whichever production house I was working with, I always got approached with requests to make workflows better.
The real inspiration for PMP came when a production manager friend of mine, Peter Fulop, and I started to talk about how easy it is to find, mix & match tools for post-production, but there's close to nothing for pre. We were using Celtx at the time, prepping a feature project, but as the amount of information grew to dozens then hundreds of casting photos, screenplay versions, etc., and the project file took almost a minute to open, we were like: "This can't be. There must be an easier solution to this!" And the idea for Production Minds was born.
What problems do you solve for film and TV makers?
We set out to be a comprehensive pre-production platform for all scripted content. This involves screenplay parsing and revisions management, allowing the ADs to break down a script, help them through the casting and location scouting process; helping the director and DoP to collect and discuss visual ideas, like shot lists, production design, animatics, etc. We also help the production office people with the tedious task of keeping track of crew lists, contacts, availabilities; and scheduling the entire life of the production, including but not limited to shooting days, auditions, recces, and meetings.
I tend to dream big, so we definitely won't stop here: we are adding functions to extend from pre-prod into principal photography and beyond.
How do you think PM's and Drylab's systems can work together?
When I first saw Drylab's products, Dailies Viewer and Set Report, I was immediately intrigued. They provide a strikingly elegant solution to two complex but common problems: giving the top creatives and decision makers instant access to all recorded footage; and allowing script supervisors to capture metadata to go with this footage (like camera settings, circle takes, and director's comments).
Having talked to the founders, John Cristian Rosenlund and Audun Vaaler it was obvious that they have bigger plans, and would like their tools to work together with other existing solutions. PMP is a good fit, because the script, schedule and shot list metadata for a project are already available. We can provide an easy way to transfer this metadata to Dailies Viewer and Set Report, saving the crew from hours of tedious data entry on both sides.
Imagine it like this: you open up your Drylab app, tap a button to connect to PMP, and immediately see all your scenes, shots, and scheduled shooting days. Then at the end of the shooting day, you can transfer all collected metadata back to the PMP cloud, and make it available for production office to run daily production reports and so on.
What is the biggest difference between your product and your competitors?
The biggest is probably comprehensiveness. We still have a long way to go, but none of our competitors have come even close to the feature set we have to offer. And there are many other factors, like being cloud-based, which means we can respond to customer feedback in a matter of hours or days. Compare that to waiting for a new Movie Magic bugfix release…
I have two guiding principles when designing PMP functions: 1) there should be an easy-to-find, designated place for everything; and 2) you should never ever have to enter the same information twice. In PMP everything is linked to everything else. It's like a network of scenes, shots, visuals, talent profiles, calendar events; all of which you can discover from any starting point. This is a truly unique concept.
For example, the location manager for a shooting location is not just a name and phone number, it's a link to a contact profile, which in turn is linked to their assistant, which is linked to the crew list, which is linked to a shooting unit, which is linked to a shooting day, that is linked to scenes, and shots, and so on. If you change any small detail, it will create ripples to update everything related to it, making sure you never forget to keep data in sync.
Where do you see PM two years from now?
I tend to dream big, so we have like a zillion ideas for improvements, and new ones are pouring in every day from existing customers. Our user community is amazing, and they provide invaluable feedback and suggestions, which we thankfully credit them for on our website.
An important goal is to establish PM as the most comprehensive pre-production tool, and that means working with third parties like Drylab. We have a few more integration plans in discussion, and I'd like to implement two or three of those in the coming year.
We'll be adding support for more departments, and production issues like continuity and DPRs; and we're opening our doors towards episodic projects, which have somewhat different workflow requirements, but are still benefiting from the level of organization Production Minds can offer.
Image credits: Javier Collado Jiménez, Gábor Valuska