What Is Pre-Production? A Blueprint for a Successful Film

April 12, 2022
April 12, 2022 Zee Dichev

Making a film is no easy feat. If you want a great film, you need to consider a lot of things beforehand.

In fact, if you don’t, your film could end up being nothing more than a big mess!

But don’t worry. That’s where pre-production comes into play. Once you understand the video production process, you’ll be up to putting it all together in no time.

What is Pre-Production?

The term “pre-production” refers to all the tasks that you need to do before you actually start shooting. Whether you’re making a full-length film, a music video, a corporate video, TV Commercial or doing digital marketing, you’ll need to undergo a pre-production process.

Pre-production is the first step in a three-step process in the film industry. This process also includes production (which follows) and involves the actual shooting of the film, and post-production (step 3), which focuses on editing the shots together and including special effects.

Importance of Pre-Production

The importance of planning before you shoot cannot be overstated. Film productions rely on many different factors, so you need to be sure that you have everything in place before you begin production. The fewer surprises, the better.

Pre-production also helps filmmakers plan and minimize unexpected costs. It also helps the filming run much more smoothly when a plan is in place.
Plus, it makes for a better-quality film in the end. When filmmakers breeze over the pre-production stage, it shows in the finished product. So, if you want to be professional and stay true to your artistic integrity, you need to think about pre-production.

Elements of the Pre-Production Process

So, how does pre-production work?
There are lots of moving pieces, but it’s not as complicated as it seems. Here, the pre-production process is broken down into several elements that you need to consider before you make your film.

Budgeting

Making videos isn’t cheap. You’ll have to budget wisely, be realistic, and prioritize certain things over others. If you already have access to good-quality cameras, for example, consider spending your budget on something else, like hiring a DP (Director of photography), production design or special effects.

It may be wise to overestimate how much money you will spend and budget for that. Then, you won’t end up spending more money than you can afford.
Remember to also account for unexpected costs. Accidents happen, and you may need to replace equipment or hire more people at the last minute. Having a good budget template to work with will help you along the way and keep things in check.

Hiring

Now that you’ve settled on your budget, you can begin the hiring process!
You’ll need to hire a production team to handle all the different elements of the creative process. This includes people like the director of photography, assistant director, production coordinator, camera department, sound department, costume & prop departments, and more.
This way, you’ll have an expert in every field to ensure the quality of all elements in your film. It’ll also reduce the amount of work that each person has to do since they’ll all rely on one another’s expertise and work together as a team.

You’ll also need to hire a first AD, a crew, and a producer (or several). For the post-production stage, you’re also going to need an editor. Remember to pay attention to your budget to judge how many people you can afford to hire.
If you aren’t directing the film yourself, you’ll also need a director who understands the creative vision. Check out this video for some tips on choosing the right director.

Creative Planning

This is where your creative vision really starts to take form. Here, you’ll work on moving from the script to the screen. There are two main methods of doing creative planning that is almost always used in pre-production: shot lists and storyboards.
Shot lists are, essentially, exactly what they sound like. It’s a list of shots that you want to include in every scene in your film: establishing shots, medium shots, close-ups, and more. This will help you think through how each scene will be filmed.
Storyboards are a way for you to visualize on paper what your shots might look like. Once completed, it might look a bit like a comic. It will help you translate the action from the script into a visual format.

Logistics

Great! You’ve got a vision for the film, and you’ve got people who are ready to bring it to life. Now, let’s get practical.
You’ll need a location, or maybe several, where you can film. So, you’ll have to scout different places and secure permits that allow you to legally shoot there.
You also need to create a shooting schedule. Usually, films are shot out of order and then edited together in the proper sequence later. Arrange your schedule based on what is most convenient and makes the most logical sense, not based on the consecutive events in the script.

If you don’t have equipment handy, you also need to get ahold of that. You can either rent or buy gear like cameras, microphones, tripods, boom poles, and more.

All of these tasks are mainly the responsibility of a film’s producer. Take a look at this video for more information on a producer’s role!

Revisions

Keep in mind that things will shift over the course of the pre-production process. You’ll likely have to revise your budget and schedule several times before you’re ready to shoot. There’s no way to predict how things will play out, so make sure you stay open to change!

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