The Economics of Broken Deadlines

Why were the second and third Matrix films shot at the same time? Why are TV

series shot all at once? Simple: economies of scale. You can shoot all your

scenes at a given location at the same time, rather than having to keep on returning

there. Which is why I was surprised to see this, from Marc


Television shows often don’t have scripts in hand for more than a few weeks

of filming at any given time. Yes, Virginia, the writers of "24"

really don’t know how it’s going to end when they start filming a new season.

This makes no economic sense at all. Instead, I think of it as a classic case

of how deadlines work. Let’s say you’ve got a writer and you tell him that the

script needs to be finished in all respects by two months before shooting starts.

Guess what – he’ll miss that deadline, and the series will still get made.

That’s a learning process. Eventually, all deadlines beyond "we need lines

for the actors to speak tomorrow" will get set and broken. It

might be economically inefficient, but it’s the only realistic way to get writers

to deliver anything at all.

This entry was posted in Media. Bookmark the permalink.