By Devon Maresco
Film studios are some of the most diverse workplaces out there. Depending on their size and the scope of services they support, a film studio might include multiple sets, effects labs, editing stations, post-production offices, and much more—everything it takes to bring a movie to life. And while these spaces can easily sprawl (especially on a Hollywood backlot), there are still limitations to space. Film studio stack planning is key in understanding where and how studio space gets allocated, and if that allocation is ideal to support the production.
Stack plans make it easy for film studios to understand space and how it’s dedicated to certain facets of production. Does it make sense for post-production to occupy twice as much space as wardrobe? Is there enough space in the editing department? What is the bulk of the studio dedicated to outside of the main set?
Looking at a film studio stack plan provides insight into space allocation. It can help studios use space better, to produce higher-caliber movies more affordably. Here’s how studios can understand space using a stack plan to leverage it better.
What is movie studio stack planning?
A stack plan is a macro, top-down view of space allocation within a specific facility. For a movie studio it tells the tale of where space is, how it’s used, and what that occupancy looks like in context. For example, the stack plan might tell you that Set B occupies 34% of the building’s total space. Or, you might find that the light and sound effects lab takes up 3,000 square feet of space. A stack plan can even tell you where space allocation pans out—such as post-production units on the second and fifth floors.
The act of stack planning involves using insights from the stack plan to inform better organization and allocation within facilities. It might mean combining those post-production suits into a single studio or cutting away some of Set B’s space to make room for a new on-set hair and makeup station. Whatever the changes, they’re informed by a top-down, high-level understanding of space.
Benefits of stack planning for film studios
There are a multitude of benefits correlated to stack planning for film studios. The ability to understand space at a high level puts PAs and facilities managers in a position to better-serve the needs of filmmakers and maximize the efficiency of a studio environment. Some of the biggest benefits include:
- More efficient use of facilities, from both cost and operations standpoints
- Better understanding of space allocation and utilization
- Purposeful allocation of space to support the needs of employees
- Context for broader facilities data such as utilization and occupancy
- Insights and opportunities to repurpose or reallocate space
- Smarter spatial layout of facilities, to streamline accessibility
Stack planning insights can help shape operations. For example, if VFX is on the third floor and sound engineering is tucked into a basement, the two may have trouble working together. Moving them closer can create natural synergies that enhance post-production results.
Above all, stack plans and the act of stack planning allow film studios to operate with efficiency. It costs no small sum to make a movie; the less money spent due to facility inefficiencies, the more is available for production budgets.
How does film studio stack planning software help?
The bigger the film studio, the more complex its operational needs and the more valuable space becomes. To create an informed stack plan and reap the insightful benefits that come with it takes an investment in film studio stack planning software.
Software automatically compiles a stack plan to provide immediate insight into space allocation at a high level. Administrators can observe facilities through any number of lenses. What’s the total footage of Set A? What percentage of total facility square footage is this? What’s the cost associated with that allocation? This broad-spectrum information opens the door to better stack planning.
Stack planning itself is also simpler through software. Sandboxing capabilities allow administrators to play with floor plans and allocations before enacting them, to see how they affect facilities as a whole. Moreover, it’s easy to allocate with a macro mindset, with mind for facility demand. For example, if your studio does more VFX work and less filmography, it’s easier to scale these areas accordingly from a top-down view.
Above all, film studio stack planning makes it easy to respond to the demands of dynamic operations. What space is static? What space offers wiggle room to adapt? Who needs more space? Less space? Stack planning software enables data-driven problem-solving at a high level.
Stack plan to improve production support
It takes a lot to bring a movie to life, from acting and filming to editing and post-production. Each of these important aspects requires its own space in film studio facilities. Using a stack plan can help studios identify current space allocations, and opportunities to reallocate in support of filmmaking.
Stack plans are a top-level strategy that can reduce the total cost of movie production by facilitating smoother operations. Fewer bottlenecks in the production process means more efficient use of the studio—and fewer wasted costs to contend with. Instead of contending with challenges at each phase of production, filmmakers can spend time focusing on the art itself. Cannes, Sundance, and Tribeca, here we come.
Keep reading: Movie and Film Studio Space Planning Software Benefits