What is Pre-Production & Why is it Important?
The pre-production stage helps you and your team prepare everything you’ll need to shoot a project, whether it’s an event video, social media video or TV advert. This process includes aspects such as developing an initial idea, planning shots, developing kit lists, booking actors and everything in between. No matter the size or budget of your video, it is extremely helpful to plan out your pre-production stage meticulously, doing everything possible to make your life easier when you move to production. Discover more in our short guide to pre-production.
Why Pre-Production is Important
An effective pre-production phase can drastically improve the efficiency of your shooting. It will ensure that you have exactly what you need when you need it, to avoid wasting precious time, money and other limited resources. This makes everything about shooting and editing easier.
Additionally, preparing different shots in location, scouting, set design and rehearsals will mean that you spend less time experimenting on set, so you stick to your schedule and avoid loss of time or funds.
How Does Pre-Production Fit Into The Production Process?
Once the requirements of the story are understood, you can prepare what you need to shoot and edit your video. Then, when all aspects of the pre-production process have been completed, you should be ready to start shooting. With a detailed understanding of your proposed scenes, you will be in a better position to plan the shots you will need to capture. During this planning process, you can collate your locations, personnel and props, allowing the production team to capture your scenes smoothly. Well-executed pre-production results in a seamless transition into production and post-production.
The Elements of Pre-Production
As we have said, the pre-production process consists of multiple elements to prepare for filming. Each task needs to be completed in a certain order as earlier decisions will inform later ones; for example, hiring your lead actor early might turn out to be too expensive for your budget.
Forming a Company
Your production company is the business which will be producing the film project. In some cases, you may have an existing production company which has worked together before and may only need slight personnel changes or maybe none at all. In other cases, you will be starting fresh with a new group.
Then you need to get everything a business needs in place. This includes things like registering your company, opening a bank account or securing funds and anything else you think you need to begin the planning and shooting.
It’s important to have every senior player on board to collaborate when making decisions in pre-production. This might include the director, assistant directors, producers, and cinematographers; anyone who is important in your creative process. Make sure they are part of the company.
Budgeting effectively is crucial to making a video. You can budget at different levels; one at a dream budget level, another at a realistic level and one at a restrained level. Audit every cost and set yourself leeway in case they cost more. Researching high and low-price options will give you a picture of what things are available to you.
This will cover your bases and help you understand how much you need to raise to be able to shoot different things. You will know what is a non-negotiable for the project and what can be adapted to suit your budget restrictions.
Once these decisions have been made you can finalise the amount you will need to make your project. Be aware of hidden or unexpected costs that you might incur and leave room for these.
To complete a script breakdown, you need to go through your script and note what is required for each scene. This job is often the main responsibility of the production assistant and they ensure that everything needed for a scene is present. This includes the scene’s location, the cast members present, the props they need, extras, stunts, special effects and so on and the crew and equipment that are needed to shoot.
Storyboarding your shots is a great way to do this as it allows you to accurately picture each scene. It shows you the camera angles you need to use and your set design so you can prepare to shoot. This information will be used to create a timeline and schedule. It’s about understanding the process of filming and everything that goes into it.
Create A Schedule
Scheduling creates a time scale for shooting. It includes booking locations and shifting crew members. Using the information gathered in the script breakdown, you can build a logical order for shooting each scene. It should take into account things like travel to improve the efficiency of filming.
On a day-to-day basis, you need a call sheet to plan the smaller movements. This will plan arrival times, rehearsals, placing marks, prepping lighting and then shooting. It also includes setup times, transport to and from locations, lunches and so on, plotting the agenda of every day, start to finish.
During your script breakdown, you will have researched some shooting locations. Location scouts identify specific places to film. You may have a loose idea of the country or city but need to find streets or buildings which would fit well. Having a few options for each scene will give the director flexibility to choose the one which suits the shot best.
At each location, you need a set so it’s pivotal that these two are planned in conjunction. Set designers will work with location scouts to discuss how they can work with existing structures or features to create the best environment for the shot.
A set can be as big or as small as you like but make sure you are happy with every item that appears in a shot. You will rely on your script breakdown and storyboard to imagine the shots and the items found in them.
Props and Costumes
Securing the items that actors need to film with is another important part of pre-production as their absence would halt filming. Like with set design, your storyboard is key to visualising the props and costumes. Include the ability to adjust these later depending on the actors that are cast and their sizing.
This is a broad topic but it can be very simple. To create a video, every department needs to be able to work in tandem so planning helps to ensure that this can happen. It’s about coordinating everything, securing permits, booking locations, transport and accommodation.
Crew and Casting
Finding the right people to work with will make shooting easier and more fruitful. Your budget will inform the numbers you can hire, though there should be room to adapt to changes. Look at how many moving parts are in each scene: how many cameras do you need? What kind of lighting is required? How much costume or cosmetic work needs to be done? Answering these questions, and using your script breakdown, will tell you what crew you need and when you need them.
Casting and talent acquisition is done late in the process as you need the most accurate picture of the cast required. This picture will come from script breakdown and storyboarding and keeping the casting until last allows time for the director to make notes on how they visualise the characters and their interactions.
If you are producing a film, you will require rehearsals to achieve a quicker and cheaper shoot. It’s not just actors learning their lines, but experimenting with shots, lighting, actions and anything that could change the scene. By doing this before filming, you can get on set and run smoothly.
That being said, it is very hard to do short rehearsals when shooting. The location might dictate another action or the director might see something to change. Normally the actors rehearse with the director and when they are satisfied, rehearse in front of the crew so the crew can make marks for the actors’ movements and learn the lighting and camera sequences. When this is ready, you’re all good to start making a movie.
Allow Our Video Experts To Streamline Your Pre-Production
Getting the cogs of pre-production working is not easy to do and creating your vision can seem daunting. But at Ark Media, we can help. Whether it’s a TV commercial, animation or drone footage, we have the expertise to prepare and shoot footage you’ll love. To start a project and let us become your creative partner, please contact us and we can look at making your vision real.