Sometimes you spend weeks working on shotlists, storyboards and scooting scripts; and Sometimes you shoot just for fun, and you don't have a plan - your story unfolds unscripted.
I have to confess that my first video project (Super 8mm film) was poorly planned. Actually, it was unscripted. To be honest, we didn't have a pre-production phase. A few 15-year-old friends and I just bought some film and borrowed a father's movie camera and we just started shooting. I suppose that, technically, the pre-production happened immediately before the shooting. Someone came up with an idea, shared it as a spoken suggestion, we deliberated and then pressed the record button. While this was not necessarily the best video I ever made, it certainly was one of the most rewarding.
The video was produced for the pleasure of the video makers as opposed to some unknown audience, so this explains why pre-production was unnecessary. We were the intended audience (and perhaps some other friends). Creating video for the pleasure of creation is an under-rated activity. It can be therapeutic, recreational or entertaining, and is usually all three. Perhaps a good name for this is making video to make video.
It's similar to taking a bicycle ride, doodling or making a sand castle. These activities do not have a pre-production phase. Bike rides often have no destination, doodles may never have a vision before completion and sand castles evolve depending upon the behavior of the sand. Things change when minor obstacles seem to get in the way. The simple experience of engaging in a pursuit often changes the destination. Bike riders change course to avoid traffic, doodles change as the artist observes the work-in-progress and wet sand inspires builders to create sharper-edged castles.
Some of you have experience with making video to make video. You have probably thought about it, but were reluctant to execute it because it seemed too silly. Many of you have indeed made one of these videos, but are reluctant to admit it. However, for most of you hobbyists, this is perhaps the only type of video that you make. Pre-production may not be skipped altogether, it is just highly compressed. In order to make a video with no trace of pre-production; you'd have to shoot extemporaneously, which to some may seem to be almost random shooting.
You could use automatic video editing software. Muvee, Pinnacle's Smartmovie or ACD VideoMagic are software packages which make edit decisions for you based upon the tempo of a music track (among other variables). These unscripted, unplanned videos can be a joy to make, but they may be painful to watch later. Years later (or even a few days later), you may feel really silly because the video may not be screen-worthy. You should not let this stop you. It is a great experience and is as meaningful as taking a walk in the park.
Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.