The importance of Pre-Production and 3 very important aspects of it

The motivation for this post is to emphasize and bash the idea just how important preproduction is during a scripted shoot. In every shoot I’ve been on, preproduction has been the key point in the entire production process that has determined the quality of the final cut.

1) The script must accommodate the Storyboard/Shot Chart

It’s almost common sense that a script is an essential part of preproduction. With that said, what is often over looked is how the script accommodates the storyboard or shot chart. The script cannot live by itself.

Recently, I was on a shoot that had a very well prepared script. However, the main issue was that there was no story boarding or shot charting. We, as the crew that shot the project, was very impressed with their in-depth preproduction and totally looked over the fact that we didn’t have a story board or a shot chart. The result was catastrophic. When it came time to shoot, we were forced to think of locations, how the shot was going to look, etc. This resulted in 3  4-6 hours shoots that exhausted the crew. I felt the morale of the crew decreasing after each day of the shoot. This all could have been prevented if we simply location scouted and had come up with a shot chart or a storyboard.

Granted, I understand that TTV does have a busy schedule and most of our shoots are run and gun style. With that said, it’s still important to think about these essential elements of production.

2) Finalize the script with your client before ANY shooting begins.

The key difference between the script and the storyboard/shot chart is that the script must be finalized because everything that is in a script can be controlled. The message you are trying to send using the video is determined by you and your client with the script. This must be set in stone before any shooting begins because the message that you are trying to send using the video is hard to change during a shoot. This doesn’t mean stick to the script when shooting. For example, the way actors say the script might not seem natural so you may just make some minor adjustments during the shoot, which can be done without sacrificing time. In other words, how the message can be told may change during production.

Unfortunately, what may happen is that the script is changed drastically during a shoot. The reason why this must be avoided is to avoid causing logistical errors. Logistical errors cause missing scenes, missing audio, etc. In addition, thinking about the logistics of the shoot consumes time. SO FINALIZE YOUR SCRIPTS BEFORE YOU SHOOT! 

3) Schedule production time in advance and stick with it

Plain and simple, if you commit to a shooting time, show up and shoot. Make sure everyone is able to shoot. If key members of the crew aren’t able to contribute to production, it is more likely that the footage won’t be what the crew imagined it to be during preproduction.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that preproduction is the base of your video. If the base of any structure is week, that structure is going to be week. So make sure you nail preproduction so that you can make something you’re proud of!

Happy shooting,

-Keita Funakawa