Five Tips to Perfect Your Pre-production

Partial shot list from our "For the Man Who Hated Christmas" shoot.

Ask any filmmaker worth her weight in salt and she’ll tell you that perhaps the most important part in the filmmaking process is pre-production. The more planning and preparation you can do ahead of time, the better the rest of the process will be. Today I want to share with you five tips to perk up your pre-production.

  1. Video brief. Have your client provide you with a video brief. This is a short document that lays out the objectives of the video, the audience, the people involved, and any other important factors. If you shoot event films like weddings, there’s no reason you can’t go through a similar process. Instead of having your client write a formal brief, send them a questionnaire to fill out that can address such issues. ShootQ has a feature built in that allows you to do just that. I use it for just about all my commercial work.
  2. Know the location.  As much as you can, get to know the environment of where you will be shooting. What is the lighting like at the time of the day when you will be shooting? What are the surrounding noises? What are the buildings? Knowing all these things ahead of time will help you prepare and be ready for any situation.
  3. Make a shot list. There will be times when shooting is hectic and stressful, and in those times it can be easy to miss something. Having a shot list is gives you the peace of mind that as long as you check off all the shots on your list, you’ve got everything you need for the video you’re producing. Break it down into “must have” shots and “nice to have” shots. If you have the time and the talent (or someone on your team with the talent) a storyboard can be very helpful too.
  4. Meet with the team. If at all possible, have a meeting with the people who will be with you on the shoot. Set expectations, assign roles, go over your plans, etc. The more informed everyone is, the smoother the shoot will go.
  5. Make a Plan B. The best way to guard against Murphy’s Law is to have a Plan B. What will you do if things don’t work out exactly as you hoped, or even planned. What if it rains? What if your brand new batteries go out? What if you have a no show for an interviewe? And if you really want to set yourself apart, have a Plan C and/or D too.
What are some of your pre-productions practices that help you have top notch productions? Please share.

2 thoughts on “Five Tips to Perfect Your Pre-production

  1. With the exception of the shot list, it looks like we did okay in pre-production. (Better than we did for our 2004 video.)

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