I remember making my first short film in high school and feeling so lost. I didn’t know how to make a finished product let alone where to start. I had so many questions and not many answers but that’s when I learned what preproduction is for.
The way that I like to think of pre-production is as the stage where you try to answer as many questions as you can before you get started. Questions like what am I filming, who do I need to do it
There are two questions that I always start with:
- What is the vision for the project? (what will it look like?)
- What are the key messages or objectives of the video?
From these questions alone, I can start to consider the format or genre, what equipment I need or who do I need to make it happen, and how will my message be delivered?
It’s important that you ask questions of yourself too and that you understand your own limitations. For example, you might need to upskill and practice filming techniques that you are not familiar with before you start recording.
Along with this you need to make sure that you are comfortable using the equipment you are planning to use. So before any project where I am planning to use a new camera or editing suite, I like to give it a test drive first.
I strongly recommend for everyone to take the time in preproduction to work on a script or a storyboard. This is where your ideas are no longer just in your head but rather physically on a page where you can add, subtract and move them around.
Having a script or a storyboard not only helps in preproduction and production but it can also assists when you go to edit. It can act as a point of reference if you shoot out of order or you are trying to remember where the B Roll is meant to go.
Despite the emphasis made on planning, one of the biggest things that I have learnt in my career is that things won’t always go to plan. So you still needed to be open and flexible to potential changes as things pop up in the production process.