Tonight, we cancelled our shoot due to a huge FUCK OFF line of storms that barreled through Texas towards Louisiana. We were supposed to do an overnight on a house boat on a small lake in East Texas. Yeah, that was not going to happen.
It’s a tricky thing to call off a shoot due to weather. Murphy’s law has it that if we call off the shoot, the storm fizzles up and producers are yelling at me about my lack of meteorology skills (actually, if you have to know, I almost went into that field instead), or if we DON’T call off the shoot, a huge red cell of disaster will come crashing through the set sending my entire crew to run for cover and leaving the equipment at the mercy of this Lost in La Mancha homage.
The reality is that if you keep the shoot on and your players are on day rates, you have to pay them the full day rate once they report to set, even if a storm comes through and the night from then on gets canceled. Now you’re dealt with having to A) reshoot the entire scene because of continuity and/or location issues, and B) pay the entire crew ANOTHER day’s rate on top of the canceled day’s rate.
The best solution is to go with your gut and monitor the radar closely. If it looks like Armageddon is looming for any point of the shoot, talk with your UPM or Line Producer and find out what the financial issues are about pushing the shoot to a different day. There’s also safety concerns at play with any sort of storm. Electricity and rain often don’t play well and it’s your job as the 1st Assistant Director to protect your crew from harm (and also the equipment!) It is a tricky call to make, and if you pick incorrectly, there could be some serious consequences at hand. Don’t make the decision blindly and don’t go it alone. Talk with your producers, your crew, and monitor that RADAR (not just the weather reports) closely and you should be able to come up with the best solution for your production.