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Oct 07

Trello for Filmmaking. How would a project manager do it?

Trello film making, production set, lensAre you a film production manager? Whether you shoot YT videos or full length movies, Trello is an excellent tool. People from the industry use three proven approaches to Trello boards, and we showcase them directly below this intro. But here’s the catch: for the demanding video production business you need one more tool, that – sadly – Trello lacks, namely a timeline. How about adding a timeline power-up on top of the film-maker’s Trello board(s), so that everyone in your crew can see what happens when? Read our 10-minute step-by-step tutorial.

Let’s begin with how you would normally set up your Trello board for film production management…

Approach 1: you’re about to shoot a YouTube video

The ‘To do – In progress – Done’ approach is the simplest and suits small projects, such as shooting a YouTube video.

Filmmaker's board Trello. To do - in progress - done


Approach 2: Brief – Pre-production – Production – Post-production

In theory you could manage a full length production with the below Trello board. The more people in the cast/crew, however, the more trickier it would get to keep track of the project en route to the distribution stage.

Film production Trello board


Approach 3: A blockbuster

When you shoot a $200 million Hollywood movie and still wish to manage this production in Trello :) you could do what we did on the below screenshot: divide the lifespan of your project into weeks.

What are the drawbacks? Try to extend the ‘Option a screenplay’ task visible on the below screenshot for several weeks ;) Not to mention a cast and crew of hundreds and the according number of tasks in a single column… What’s the solution?

Trello board for a complex blockbuster


Solution: Timeline / Bar chart

Ready? Whichever of the above boards you’ve chosen, you may need a single extra on top – the timeline.

Or, more properly, a Gantt chart.

What benefits does the timeline/Gantt chart power-up bring to a filmmaker?

  • Imagine a day-long task, such as ‘shoot in front of the town hall’ on the timeline. It’s going to be a relatively ‘short’ bar.
  • Now add massive, centuries-long tasks, such as ‘Casting’ or ‘Selecting locations’, represented by very ‘long’ bars on the chart.
  • Change the Zoom of the timeline: zoom in to see the tasks for the upcoming week. Then zoom out to get a bird’s eye view of the next month or even year.

This is how BigPicture power-up works. It’s simply a bar chart overlay on your Trello board, or several boards.

Project management in Trello


Do you find FILMMAKING a competitive industry?

Even if you say ‘Yes’, here is the good news: you often need to be merely 10 percent better than others to win. Why not get the edge by just planning things precisely, rather than wasting an hour or two here an there? Let’s go through five video producer-friendly features of BigPicture power-up for Trello

1. Keep up with deadlines

Obviously you could set the ‘Due date’ on a Trello card, but why not ‘draw’ a red vertical line on a timeline (Time marker) to make it obvious to everyone that a film pitch needs to be ready by that particular date, as the meeting with the sponsor has been scheduled for some future date. Think of 10 deadlines that you might have at any given moment in the course of your film production. Wouldn’t it be better for everybody in your crew to see them all on the timeline and be aware of the upcoming one?

2. Decompose complex tasks

‘Shooting’ can be a massive ‘story’. Why not divide this huge thing by location/construction set. And then sub-divide the resulting tasks by a team responsible. Project managers say ‘decompose a project’ or ‘create a work breakdown structure (WBS)‘ to make the project manageable.

Now, is the work breakdown structure available in plain Trello? Sure, there are lists available within Trello cards, but these are somewhat ‘hidden’ and limited, as items in those lists are not tasks per se. Therefore why not go for two, three or in fact unlimited levels of hierarchy with BigPicture’s WBS, so that you can schedule this 2nd- 3rd- or 4th-level tasks on the timeline. Check the above animation and the tutorial video below…

3. Track dependencies

Can you see these dashed arrows that link one task to another on the Gantt chart? These are dependencies and you have plenty of them in filmmaking business. For instance a location manager begins his job only after a storyboard was completed. But… use dependencies sparingly.

4. Milestones

Milestones are there to motivate your crew ;) Notice them as diamond-shaped ‘tasks’ on the above BigPicture animation. A milestone is not a real task, rather it depicts a ‘substantial completion’. You could set a milestone at the end of your shooting schedule.

5. Critical path

If you’re serious about avoiding delays, you are going to use this feature. You can hit View > Show > Critical path from the main menu to highlight tasks that, if delayed by a single day, would delay the end date of a project. With the remaining, unhighlighted tasks, on the other hand, you’ve got room for rescheduling.


Trello BigPicture logo


Add Timeline & Gantt chart on top of your Trello boards.

About The Author

With his automotive background Marcin goes beyond the 'Jira + software development' standard. He likes simple, up-to-five-sentence answers to complex questions.