Thursday, August 9, 2012

Zach Lipovsky on Shot Lister

Before we dive into Shot Lister, give me a little of your filmmaking background.

ZACH: I started in the film industry when my mom cast me as free labour in her education programes. I loved it and got an agent and started acting in TV shows and movies. At the same time I was a big geek, using my acting income to buy computers and rise up with the digital revolution.

From learning on sets as I grew and playing around with computers as they became more complex, I grew into making my own films. From an early age I knew that's all I wanted to do and for the first time in history I could with a cheap digital camera and computer.

After high school I volunteered wherever I could, usually adding VFX into other indie filmmakers’ films, racking up a long list of favours for when I got my chance to make some shorts. Eventually made a short called Crazy Late that won some awards and was what I used to get noticed on Spielberg's On the Lot. After that I left the VFX behind and committed to following the dream of being a full time director.

What was your experience On The Lot and what was the impact (positive and negative) of being on that show?

ZACH: On the Lot was a dream come true in a lot of ways. I did my best to keep my dignity while taking part in a reality show, all the while being given creative control to make as many cool films as I could to stay alive.

The biggest impact was being able to practice my craft, gain the confidence to realize I was good at it, and to be given the opportunity to show the world what I had to offer. That show was broadcast around the world and I still get emails from Thailand or India from people who were inspired by my work. The only negative was that the show wasn't as well received for a lot of valid reasons, but I personally got a lot out of it.

Okay, Shot Lister looks like a pretty handy app. Give me the elevator speech about it.

ZACH: Shot listing is overlooked as one of the most important things to making a shoot go to plan, and the current state of the art is a crumbled up piece of paper that is always out of date. Shot Lister is the only digital way to build, track, organize, schedule and share a shot list digitally, so you can keep up with the ever changing decisions on set.

What's the coolest thing about the app?

ZACH: The most revolutionary part of the app is that as you check off, delete or re-organize your shot list while you shoot, the app instantly recalculates your schedule to the minute, not only showing you if your new plan will wrap on time, but how many minutes you have to finish this shot to keep on track.

No longer are the director and AD madly scribbling in the margins of some printed spreadsheet trying to figure out the best course of action. You instantly know how you're doing so you can get back to work.

Are there other apps that you find to be helpful for the DIY filmmaker?

ZACH: I am a full blown Evernote believer. That app has completely changed the way I make films. I can collect, organize and share everything that inspires me. There are films I'm working on now that would not exist unless I saw how many notes on that subject where piling up in Evernote. On my last film I created a notebook for the film and included every bit of inspiration, cast photo, location scout info, script notes... etc. Everything stored in one place, on all my devices and shareable with everyone else on the film. It's amazing and inspires me make Shot Lister as good a service one day.

How is technology like that making it easier/faster/cheaper for filmmakers?

ZACH: Being able to digitally have everything in one place and easily find it and share it, makes the whole process so much more enjoyable and efficient. The iPad alone has touched every part of filmmaking for me. From showing off concepts in pitch meetings, reading scripts on the go, sending revisions and ideas around to the crew and in the end having every film I've ever made in my pocket ready to show.

I'm a total digital convert and strive to have a paperless existence - not easy in the current old school production workflow. But trust me it's possible. That's one of the main reasons I made shot lists digital; it seemed to me to be the last piece of the puzzle that hadn't been digitized, and now that it is, people are going to wonder how they did it before.

What are you currently working on (film-wise) and are there any other apps in your future?

ZACH: I'm currently finishing post on a Syfy monster film starring Danica Mckellar and Apolo Ohno called Tasmanian Devils as well as producing a mysterious found footage genre film being distributed by CBS films and Sony which is hitting theaters early 2013.

On the books in the future is a comic book styled version of the war of 1812 called The Dogs of War which is being funded by Rhombus Media and Telefilm Canada, premiering in summer 2014 as my theatrical directing debut.

NEW FEATURES: (check them out at
 ✓ New customizable category perfect for actors or anything else
✓ New customizable lens category
✓ New shot number category based on scene order
✓ Ability to customize size category
✓ Ability to delete items from gear list
✓ Option to exclude "i" and "o" from shot numbers
✓ Alert to delete or remove shots from shoot day

Update November, 2013:

ZACH: Since I launched the Shot Lister app for iOS in June of 2012, I've been amazed by the quick uptake, feedback and suggestions for new features that filmmakers started clamoring for right away. I've spent the past 18 months adding and expanding features through regular upgrades, creating the pretty robust app it is today.  

The most asked for feature was storyboards, which I'm happy to say we included in our recent update this September.

Now it's time to answer the call from our Android fans - I get a lot of requests for Android, but as an indie filmmaker, it's just not feasible to start all over again on my own so if enough Android users pre-order the app on Kickstarter right now, then we can all make it happen together and the more users we have on both platforms means I can continue to add new features to both.

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