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Planning

Some people like to say the pre in pre-production stands for “preparation.” Okay, no one actually says that, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Pre-production is the time to plan ahead and get organized. While this may not be as fun as developing a story or filming on set, think of the work as fine-tuning your creative vision towards making it a reality. After all, if you were happy to have your story stay on the page, you would have written a book.



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Is there anything more exciting than organization and efficiency? Well, on the administrative side of your project, that’s pretty much what’s required. So if you have a friend who keeps recommending “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” now is the time to tap into that resource. When sorting through all the minute details of the production, always keep in mind the overall big picture of what’s important to you.

TOPICS IN ADMIN:

  • Script Breakdown (AD / UPM)
  • Pre-Production Schedule
  • Production Schedule
  • Paperwork (LLC)

Actors quite literally bring your project to life, especially if it’s live action and not animation. From both a creative and business perspective, the cast brings real value. A good performance can elevate a mediocre script, while a bad performance can destroy a great story. And whether it’s true or not, financiers and distributors believe that a cast will draw an audience. In the end, having good chemistry with a cast means more to the end results than getting a big name or doing a favor for a powerful agent…or even a friend.

TOPICS IN CASTING IN PRE-PRODUCTION:

  • Where to Find Actors
  • Negotiating with Agents & Managers
  • Preparing to Audition Actors
  • The Audition

In terms of actually bringing a project to life, you can have the greatest ensemble cast since “The Godfather,” but it won’t matter without a good crew. Talent and experience can be valuable when selecting crew members, but remember that these are people you will be working with for a long time. This doesn’t mean to gather up all your best friends, though depending on your budget, you might not have any other option. A “good sense of humor” is a dating profile cliché, but it’s a really good trait to have in potential crew members.

TOPICS IN CREWING:

  • Considering Cost
  • Considering Skill / Experience
  • Starting Post-Supervisors and the Editor

Building sets can be really expensive. However, there are “pre-made” sets that will work for your project: locations! Finding the right places to film is a good way to raise your production values without sending the budget into the red.

TOPICS IN LOCATIONS:

  • Tidy Up Your Sluglines
  • Scouting
  • Permits and Other Budgetary Considerations

Now that you’ve spent some time organizing and preparing, reward yourself with some creative decisions. Do you know what you want this project to look like? Study other works that are similar or inspiring, and don’t be afraid to outright steal from them. Your project’s unique style will emerge as you go along…especially if you have each frame mapped out in your shooting script.

TOPICS THE LOOK:

  • Budgetary Considerations for Camera and Lens Choices
  • Budgetary Considerations for Production Design

In Pre-Production, the Assistant Director needs to prepare to take over the project from the Production Manager. In fact, a lot of AD’s transition into production management, so it’s not bad to have someone who wants to learn. Ultimately, you want someone who doesn’t take too much crap from others, but can also listen to any grievances. Yeah, it’s a fine line in the personality department, but you will make them a member of your wedding party if they get the job done.

TOPICS IN ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:

  • Safety

Yes, we are talking about practice. Maybe you feel good just winging it most of the time, but do you trust your cast to do the same? Think of rehearsals as the next stage in the evolution of the characters in the story. And if you do consider yourself an avant-garde experimenter, this is also a good chance to test out different versions before the production is really on the clock.

TOPICS IN REHEARSALS:

  • Scheduling Rehearsals
  • It Looks Different in Rehearsal

Resources

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