March 1, 2011By Lance Baily

Record breaking profits for Sim Center

A few months ago I wrote an article titled “Host Profitable Events at Your Sim Lab“, where I shared a way to make thousands of dollars in a single day for your institution by hosting film production companies in your sim labs. Medical Simulation labs and healthcare simulation centers make excellent locations for big budget productions as there are no patients to worry about.  Well, last week a production company called our Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas with an emergency request for a ‘hospital-like environment’ to be filmed this Sunday.

Medical Simulation External ContractNeedless to say we secured a contract and a 5-figure check to supervise a production at our collaborative simulation center on a Sunday when no learners would be disturbed!

I learned a few more tips I would like to share with all of you about hosting a big-budget production at you facility.

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If you missed how to attract highly-profitable events to your center, check back with my first article titled “Host Profitable Events at Your Sim Lab“.

The first thing I learned is to have paperwork and process established with your institutions “Media Relations” department beforehand.  The thing about film productions are they are very “hurry up and wait”.  You may receive a phone call from a production manager looking to shoot at your facility in the next 48 hours – and if you are not able to have institutional support confirm accessibility within 4 hours they may move on to another location that can.  So confirm with your institution what their policies and procedures normally are, and what can be done in a ‘critical scenario’ with last minute requests.  Find out what your institutional needs are for:

  • Permit Applications & costs
  • Approval process (who has to sign what)
  • Reimbursement requirements
  • Police or security requirements & costs
  • Parking requirements & costs

Our media relations department understood the serious benefit of working to secure this production contract, so they supported us by quickly moving through the application and permit process.  This never would have happened had they not been so helpful!

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Medical Simulation Production Event

Next up, make sure you have your IT manager and lab coordinator available if possible to support the production.  Lighting crews will like the help with knowing how to turn on/off certain lights and use certain computer equipment.  Prop crews like to take advantage of the medical equipment and supplies already available in the center and helping them to find, and put away key equipment is mutually beneficial.

Working with a professional crew means they will respect your space.  Student productions and low-budget productions do not have the full teams dedicated to making a big-budget production work.  What that means to you is that after crews shuffle spaces around to meet their production needs, they may not necessarily respect the need to return those spaces to their original condition.  Which is important for a medical simulation lab because we can be teaching in that space the very next morning.  So make sure to gain the respect of the production crew for the ‘delicacy’ of certain spaces and the need to maintain the space as they find it.  But know that professional crews are paid union wages to do just that, and will actually take pictures of how they found the space beforehand to put things back exactly the way they found it!

Medical Simulation Film Shoot

Lastly, just in terms of general upkeep ask the production to bring “Layout boards”.  Layout boards, shown below, are long cardboard sheets which are taped to the ground so that heavy foot traffic and production carts do not leave a great deal of marks on your nice floors.  Our production crew needed about 35 layout boards to cover the areas they would be walking over repeatedly.  Then, also ask that they bring their own trash cans for bathrooms and for catering, so that at the end of the day you do not have to take out extra trash from your facility.

Healthcare Simulation Center Film Shoot

Filming in a Sim Lab

Realize that big budget productions have a large number of people.  Each person is a member of a department (such as camera, lighting, electrical, hair & makeup, props, etc.) and is responsible for a key aspect of the production.  We had about 75 people walking around our center on Sunday which included the crew and the extras (actors paid to represent a general people).  I locked all doors for rooms that were not in use and asked our police officers (who were paid for by the production) to walk the halls and just make sure people who did not need to be walking around weren’t.  I also taped off doors and halls to other areas in the center that were not our department.

All in all, while there is some oversight necessary hosting a production can be the single most profitable day in your healthcare simulation center’s history.  It was for us!  Leave a comment to and share your successful hosting experiences!

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