What do you think what lies beyond these well-known words "Camera, Action!"? Most people can hardly imagine what it is. How is it possible? Such a great number of professionals work together in a team/crew, seem to be one organism, understand each other perfectly clear in their movie-language and even capable of ending each other's thoughts. Everyone who has ever tried to build a team knows how hard it is to make team members work together harmoniously.
So, what is the key to success in moviemaking? The answer is "Pre-production". Pre- production is the creative and logistical process of planning all the elements needed to produce a future movie.
To help you get a better feel of this process, here is a short and simple explanation of how it works. Just imagine, schedules, costumes, locations, special equipment, transport, budgets, insurance, and permissions — this list may seem endless. And pre-production time is when you have to plan everything, consider every detail, and pay attention to every little thing that may later play an enormous role in your movie.
So, first of all, a script appears! You have to understand that pre-production starts when a script is finished. But to move any further, and to make it possible to transform a script into a draft for filmmaking, you have to break down the script and set up a company. If you are lucky to have already done it, you can move to the next one important step.
Budget & schedule
This step contains two essential parts of pre-production that can't be considered separately. They are connected and depend on each other. For example, the schedule shows you for how many days you will need some rental equipment, and the number of days will influence your budget accordingly. If your schedule is planned well, it will show what you need for your production, so when you see it, you can estimate how much it will cost.
Hire key department heads
Now you are in the moment when you choose people you can rely on, who are going to take a huge piece of functions. Director of Photography and 1st Assistant Director are the key posts you can’t leave vacant for this moment. After they become a part of your project, you’ll have plenty of questions to discuss: department heads might have their own ideas for production, objections on budgeting, or even mismatch in their production schedule that they will create for departments. Also, on this step, you can distribute responsibilities and start to build a whole team, taking advantage of department heads who will help you to hire an effective film crew.
Creative planning begins
Step by step you come closer to your goal. The purpose of this stage is to create a storyboard and shot list of the scenes. A storyboard is a simple method to make your film visible to the eye. It helps to check if there is enough understanding between the director and departments and to find out what your crew will possibly need to make the director's vision and idea come true.
You’ll need to scout and secure locations as well. It is necessary to make sure that locations will fit your production needs in a creative way.
Refine budget & schedule
When your team has considered all the risks, special needs, and other relevant details, you’ll have a lot of new information to take into account and analyze. After that, it’s the best moment to revise the budget and shooting schedule. It is very important to find the balance between your creative goals and the financial side.
No moviemaking is possible without special gear, supplies, props, costumes, etc. In other words, all the stuff that will help you to create. Your department heads and line producer or production manager need to make sure that all rentals are secured, locations are booked and equipment is arranged. Don’t forget to get all permissions and insurance! That is a crucial moment: any mistake on this step may ruin the whole schedule of shoot days…
Hire crew & audition talent
Now it is time for department heads to start searching for skilled specialists to build a crew. But also it is the hottest time for a casting director who starts to cast actors to find talents.
Rehearse & final preparations
If everything is in the right places, for this moment you are supposed to get almost ready to create your masterpiece. You have passed through all stages and hired a crew, arranged it with necessary gear rentals; you’ve got a cast; locations and permits are secured; you are sure of an adjusted schedule and budget.
As you get to the endpoint of the pre-production process, there is not much left to do. Director may finally start rehearsing with actors. Your department heads will polish departments to make production go smoothly.
If all lists are updated, you can send out the call sheets. A call sheet is a key production paper that contains all the information your crew might need for the moviemaking. And this final document is the confirmation that you are ready to shoot!
Now, you see what the “pre-production” word means and how important this phase is. Needless to say, that every project is unique and it has its own particularity. Some steps may be combined, swapped around, or divided. But all of them are crucial and have to be under close attention to make sure everything is prepared for the production.