3 Tips To Help Filmmakers With Their Crew Members — Ryan Harriss

My name is Ryan Harriss and in 2018 I directed, produced and co-wrote my first feature film called ZOOEY.

ZOOEY is a low-budget to no-budget feature about a young boy who over the course of a summer escapes from his abusive stepfather and goes to stay in this kind of janky motel.

Number 1) Your crew wants to know.

It’s at this motel that he meets a young girl named Zooey who is traveling through with her brother. Noah has formed this sort of bond and over the course of their time together Noah discovers a secret about her that changes the course of their summer entirely.

ZOOEY started principal photography in 2018. It took about nine months to shoot the entire film due to the fact that we had to shoot only on weekends because most of the crew and most of our people were working 9-to-5 jobs including myself.

We also had to fly in our main actor from another state each time when we were shooting. It kind of gave us where we would shoot for the weekend and then that week I would sit there and work to figure out what we were going to shoot the next following weekend.

During this process my team and I learned so much about everything that we did wrong and everything that we did right. I wanted to share with you three ways to understanding your crew on a low-budget to no-budget feature film.

Number 1) Your crew wants to know.

On ZOOEY we had about 10–15 people on set a day and sometimes we had less than that. Sometimes we had 4 to 5. Sometimes it was just my DP and I going out with our talent and shooting due to people’s availability because we were only shooting on weekends.

We had about 4 1st ACs and 4 2nd ACs [a focus puller or first assistant camera] that were on sort of a rotation. Some people were there on day 1 through 3. Other people were there on day 20, other people were there mid-way through the shoot. I really wanted to make it a point that whoever was there on that day understood what we were trying to achieve that day, not just technically but emotionally.

Know that your crew wants to know and there is no such thing as oversharing or giving too much information to your crew because ultimately they are there to make it better.

Number 2) is your crew is…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

[More from Ryan on why he and his collaborators made ZOOEY movie]…Back in 2016 we were in the process of selling and producing a feature titled Waiting for Tomorrow. The script got a lot of attention from producers and companies as well as actors like Michael C. Hall and Brendan Fraser. As we were gearing up to start production in 2017 we were met with silence from all producers and companies. We decided we didn’t need names or big producers to go out and make our first feature film. After a lot of conversation we decided to write a personal low-budget to no-budget feature that we could shoot here in Los Angeles, that feature was Zooey. We wanted to go out and tell the best story we could. Even though we had limited resources, we wanted to tell this story so badly.This movie was born out of frustration, passion, anger, depression, love, and excitement. We couldn’t be more thankful to everyone who helped us. We learned and grew so much during this process not just as a company but as individuals.


Ryan Harriss was born in the lush Southern Oregon. Ever since he was 9 years old he has been making movies and telling stories.

In 2013 Ryan moved to Los Angeles, CA where he co-founded Walking Distance Productions. He has directed 3 award winning short films as well as produced over a dozen. He has written 7 feature films with writing partner Jeff Haskett-Wood.

He started directing his first feature film, Zooey, in 2018 at the age of 24 which will be released by Amazon in summer 2020. He is currently in pre-production on his next feature film.











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