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Perspectives: Getting Inspirational with Life.Church

by Celtx

For many, the name Celtx is synonymous with “Screenwriter” or “Independent Filmmaker,” but a lot of our clients are actually businesses, non-profits, and advertising companies. Our all-in-one pre-production studios offer a collaborative environment where such teams can create the media they need to get their message across.

Lifechurch is the production company behind Life.Church, which boasts millions of annual downloads of inspirational videos and content, tens of thousands of weekly views via Youtube, and weekly screenings in their own Church network. These guys create a lot of content for a large audience.

We met with Kirk, Tommy, and Katie of Life.Church’s production team to talk about Celtx and how they use it. Kirk is the Senior Producer and administrator of the Life.Church team, Tommy is one of their Line Producers, and Katie is in charge of casting, wardrobe, and props.

We asked them for an overview of their process in using Celtx, which they started using a little over seven years ago:

We were using Final Draft before, and one of our writers at the time heard about and then started looking at Celtx. About three years into the use of Celtx I (Kirk) started looking at it, because as a filmmaker I wasn’t directly involved with the software, you know? Anyway, I obviously read the scripts but didn’t take much note of the software until one day I sort of started looking at it and said ‘Wow, do you guys realize we could schedule a whole shoot with this?’ So, about four and a half years ago we started implementing it with this team… we started using Celtx for 100% of our pre-production and production needs.

Before Kirk realized the potential that Celtx had for scheduling and managing shoots, the team used Excel spreadsheets and the seat of their pants.

We started using Celtx in our process at the scriptwriting stage. Our writers write it, we do a couple of revisions, and then we do what we call a thrashing, where we basically take the rough draft and thrash it apart; and sometimes there are really big changes and sometimes there’s not many changes, just kind of depends on the script and the format, and the particular ministry we are creating it for.

After that they do a second draft and a read-through using Celtx Sides, and make some small changes. Then Tommy, the producer, takes over and creates a project from the script, making sure the breakdown, catalog, and schedule are produced. Katie will have already been working on casting and works with Tommy to tag all the script elements.

Once we get the cast locked down, we’ll go through the breakdown. Katie will tag all the wardrobe and get all the props tagged and figured out. I (Tommy) will work on making sure all the characters are tagged and make sure everything is kosher with the script. Then I’ll start working on the schedule. Once the actors are in place, I’ll take all that information and start communicating with the actors, gathering crew, figuring out locations, making call sheets, and finally pulling the trigger on the shoot and getting it done.

During the writing and pre-production stage they’ll typically have anywhere from eight or more people working on a project: a content team that creates the skeleton of the project, a writer, a filmmaker, a producer, a creative director, and a casting director as well as graphic designers and a project coordinator.

The Life.Church team at work.

The Life.Church team at work.

Once they go to camera, depending on the type of media they’re creating, they can have anywhere from 6-20 people on set. On one special project, they had about 70. All of those people were able to use the Celtx mobile apps to stay on the same page.

On set, we use a lot of the mobile apps. We use Reports quite a bit. Early on Katie will create sides in Celtx and share those with the actors. We try to convert our actors to Celtx so we don’t have to send .PDFs. It makes it easer for updating and shortens the time frame for making changes. We’re still working on fully integrating the whole thing, but there are some shoots that are completely electronic. We’ve been putting together a sitcom that’s in its fourth season – they have iPads on set and use the Reports app for running lines.

As for the Life.Church team’s favorite Celtx features, Katie chose the Catalog and Budget:

I’m generally not on set during shooting, and being able to utilize the catalog system with photos and budgets and having it all available to upload there for the producer or whoever is on set makes my job so much easier! It creates less pre-production for me and leg work in general. I don’t have to print anything anymore. The budgeting aspect: once I started using it, wow, I don’t even have to think about it anymore. It’s just broken down and I’m able to keep on track. It’s just awesome.

For producer Tommy, the Schedule tools were the hands-down winners:

I just like how intuitive it is; the interface is really easy to use to start a project, schedule it, move the scenes around – it’s not complicated, everything is really simple and easy to figure out. Then to take that from the finished schedule to call sheets and the Reports app… its just really easy to do.

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