Best Pre-Production Practices
The most honest form of filmmaking is to make a film for yourself.
– Peter Jackson
Best Pre-Production Practices
If you want to produce a film or TV show, you must do pre-production. These practices will help you set up your production and get everything working as smoothly as possible.
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After deciding on the overall story, you can begin gathering the contracts, equipment, locations, and HoDs (Heads of Department). Make sure to have catering and craft service in mind too, as this will help keep your crew happy during the course of production as well as provide first aid on set. Definitely something that you don’t want to accidentally overlook as it’s not always at the forefront of your mind. Also take this time to get production insurance and research which insurance (there’s a discount in that link) is best for you. You’ll also need to organize payroll. You’ll be coordinating all of these items and more during pre-production, so make sure to take advantage of this opportunity. And don’t forget to get the life rights of your subjects. It’s important to secure these rights and keep them in place during pre-production to avoid a costly mishap. It may seem like a lot, but doing all of this while you have the time to in pre-production will save you a lot of headache later on. Trust me!
A table read is a pre-production process that allows filmmakers to test out different versions of their scripts and how their cast preform them before shooting begins. This is a great way to get feedback on your script and determine if it’s engaging and interesting. It also gives you the opportunity to recast if necessary. Better to do that at the start rather than halfway through. You can also ask other people involved in the production to read the characters’ dialogue and setting descriptions to get a different feel. The aim is to see how it sounds to them before shooting starts. A good table read is an essential part of the pre-production process.
Speaking of script changes, while pre-production doesn’t involve “finalizing” a screenplay, it’s vital to keep track of the script’s changes and communicate these changes with key crew members. Maybe a prop will change, or a scene will go from day to night, or it’ll get scrapped all together. The more concrete your script can become before you start shooting the better. It will give your crew a proper amount of time to get organized and ready for principal photography.
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As a filmmaker, you need to know your audience. Without audience, you can’t make any money with your final product, your film. Knowing who this movie is for will help you market, and promote the BTS and final product. Even if the project isn’t specifically made to create a profit, it still helps with the creative process. If you’re making a kids movie, obviously you’re not going to have a bunch of blood and guts. Knowing the audience will help you stick with a consistent tone.
Casting & Production Value
Your cast can’t be changed by any amount of makeup, costumes, or awesome action. It is crucial to choose the right cast before you hit the record button for the first time. A huge issue that independent filmmakers often face is their limited ability to access talent, particularly if they are just starting. They don’t have the experience or knowledge to find talent. Good thing you know about us! You can just check out our Cast List or our massive list of resources.
While not every film will be realistic, the film must be plausible within its own boundaries. For example, while flashy fighting styles and kung fu moves are acceptable in certain films the same combat styles would be absurd in others. Casting is the most important factor in determining believability. Your production value will rise if every actor is a good fit for their role.
Creating a budget is one of the most important parts of pre-production. It will determine how much equipment and locations you’ll need/can afford. After all, if you run out of money, you can’t finish the movie. Developing a film isn’t a hobby; it’s a job. Using a budgeting tool will ensure that it’s easier to make your project successful.
Storyboarding and Shot List
Regardless of your budget, you should develop your story board and shot list. These are the tools you’ll need to make production run smoothly. This will ensure that you get the most out of your budget and ensure that your film production looks its best.
During pre-production, you should create an outline of all your shots. This will help you prepare for your film and will help you visualize your shots and the flow of the production.
Getting the right location is another important step in the pre-production process. Before you begin shooting, you should have a general idea of where you need to shoot. Once you have an idea of where you’ll be shooting, it’s important to decide how many actors and crew members you’ll need to have there.
Moreover, you should consider the permits and access to the locations. The production manager and the line producer should determine the risks in advance. If you are shooting in an outdoor location, you should visit it during different seasons and weather conditions.
Ready to Make Your Film?
I hope these tips will help you with your next production! Again, there is no detail that you should ever overlook in filmmaking. Taking your time and making sure everything is exactly how you want it is how you will become successful. Diligently planning will greatly help reduce the stress that comes with film production. It may seem like a lot, but each of these practices play off each other and without them all, the plan will come to a screeching halt.
While we’re at it, you should check out more of FilmLocal! We have plenty of resources, cast and crew, and job opportunities. Not to mention a ton more useful articles. Create your free FilmLocal account today and give your career the boost it deserves!