Whether it’s a groundbreaking cinematic masterpiece or a hobby film the best way to turn that idea into a reality is through pre-production. What may seem like a boring, monotonous task is something that will be worthwhile in the end. Thoroughly developing a plan will help you tell better stories and prevent any mix-ups on shoot day.
If you're reluctant to invest valuable time in thoroughly planning your next project, read our Plea for Pre-production. And if you still don't believe us, here's Why Story is the Most Important Aspect of Video.
Write! Write! Write is right!
Filmmaking is an artform, but unlike painting, you can’t just slap some paint on a canvas and say voila; it’s a bit more strategic, like extreme cake baking. Imagine a towering chocolate cake — that’s your finished video. Obviously, the baker didn’t get to that point by tossing some ingredients in a pan and hoping for the best; it took a recipe. The filmmakers recipe comes in the form of a script, storyboard and shotlist.
First, you'll want to determine how your story will be structured:
How to Apply the Three Act Structure to Nonfiction Video
5 Tips for Engaging Short Films
If you're having trouble getting started with your script, read How Screenwriters Can Overcome Writer’s Block. And when you're done with your draft, be sure you polish it up with these 7 Script Editing Tips that Will Take Your Screenplay from Good to Great. Trying your hand at writing for the first time? Don't worry: Your First Script Will Be Your Worst.
Break it Down
Now that you have a script, the next step is to break it down for production. First, you'll need a storyboard to help you visualize your shots, so check out these 5 Tips for More Useful Storyboards. Then, you'll want to create a shot list. Here's why: How A Shot List Makes Your Shoot Easier, Better and Cheaper.
You'll also need to figure out where you're going to shoot, so make sure to read these Top 5 Scouting Tips Every Location Scout Should Know.
This costs more than I thought it would.
So you have your idea and you’re ready to bring it to life but, upon further research you’ve realized that it’s a tad bit more expensive to shoot than you had intended. So now what? Well, that’s where a budget comes into play. Creating a budget is incredibly important because without it you have no movie and all of the hard pre-production work you’ve put in is worthless. Here's a look at How to Build a Video Budget.
Budget looking pretty slim? Here's how to Work with What You Have. Or you may want to give crowdfunding a try to boost your production value: Power to the People: Crowdfunding Your Video Project.
Eitherway, you'll like be looking for ways to get your hands on the best video gear for the lowest cost, so here are our tips on Finding and Accessing Equipment.
The day is finally here. You’re ready to go out and film. Make sure you have what you need and prepare for the unexpected with these 10 Production-saving Accessories and The Essential Video Shooter’s Toolkit.
But what about creativity?
You may think to yourself “If I plan out the whole shoot, where does the creativity come into play?” Yes, that may be a valid point, but pre-planning produces a whole new type of creativity when it comes to filmmaking. Here's one point of view to consider: Does over-planning stifle creativity?
Pre-production leads to organized creativity. A plan is just a plan, and you don’t have to follow it to a tee but, having it is reassuring. If you reach the shoot and are inspired to take the video a completely different direction, do so — just make sure the shots you planned are covered, too. It all comes down to you and what you prefer and whether or not you use it. Having pre-production is your arsenal of tools is never a bad thing.