Pre-production process in filmmaking

Table of Contents

What is film pre-production?

Pre-production is the planning and preparation stage that occurs before actual filming begins in the filmmaking process. It is a critical phase that can have a significant impact on the quality and success of the final product. During pre-production, the script is developed, actors are cast, locations are scouted, costumes are designed, and technical requirements are assessed. The pre-production will set the foundation for the entire project and allows for the efficient and effective use of resources during production.

It also provides an opportunity to identify and address potential problems before filming begins, reducing the likelihood of costly and time-consuming errors. In short, pre-production is essential to ensuring a smooth and successful filmmaking process, and its importance cannot be underestimated.

The pre-production steps usually start right after you get the finance for your film and have the final draft of the script. At the end of this stage, you should know how you will make all the scenes written in the movie script look and sound good in the movie.

Budget and schedule your film

The first thing you need to do is the schedule and budget your film. At this oint, you should have at least some finance and planning the budget is planning how you are going to spend the financers money. You can do it by breaking down the script. Pay attention to how many night scenes you have, how many scenes are in the exact location or could be shot in the same location (even if in the script cenes are not in the same place).
Also, see if you can change things in the script to make the production less expensive. Read more about it in this lesson, and I also recommend reading the lesson on Making a Low-Budget Film.

When making the budget, you should include expenses for the investment packet to get more money. The investment packet is something you want to look professional, and you might need even a professional graphic designer.

You should also pay attention to office expenses, which usually beginner producers intend to ignore. Still, it affects the budget hard if it is possible to get a line producer and a unit production manager and let them take care of the budget and schedule the film.

Script development

Script development is the process of transforming a story idea into a complete and compelling screenplay. A well-written script is the foundation of any successful film or television project. 

The first step in developing a strong screenplay is to come up with a compelling idea that will capture the audience’s attention. This idea should be explored and expanded upon through brainstorming sessions, research, and collaboration with other writers and producers. Once the basic premise of the story has been established, it’s time to begin outlining the plot, developing characters, and creating the overall structure of the screenplay.

During the writing process, it’s important to stay focused on the story’s central themes and characters, while also incorporating the necessary plot points, twists, and turns that will keep the audience engaged. A well-written script should be able to evoke emotion, capture the audience’s imagination, and leave a lasting impression.

Collaboration between writers and producers is crucial in the script development process. The producers can provide valuable feedback and input on the project, offering a fresh perspective that can help refine the script and enhance its marketability. The writer’s job is to take this feedback and incorporate it into the screenplay, while also staying true to their original vision for the project.

Hiring the crew members

After understanding your budget, you can understand how many crew members you need. This understanding is critical, and the crew you’ll choose will affect the quality of your film.
Read the article about the producer’s helpers. These are crew members you can’t compromise in to do your job right. Still, there are many more crew members you need to find, like Camera operators, audio operators, production assistants, an assistant director, director of photography, a prop master, gaffers, grips, hairstylist, makeup artists, script supervisors, set designers, still photographers, location scouts, Transportation, Mechanical Effects team, catering, security.
Please make sure all crew members share and believe in your vision and are available on the dates you need them to be.

Casting and audition

Casting is a key component of a film’s pre-production process that helps to guarantee the production’s success. Therefore, it is crucial that directors choose their talent after doing their research. To properly comprehend the casting and audition process, read the article with tips for auditioning actors (you can find it in the film direction course)

Filmmakers must make sure that the actors they choose have availability throughout the days that the production will be shooting. This necessitates a detailed comprehension of the talent availability and the production timetable. After the audition process is through, it’s crucial to have an extensive list of every actor who will be in the movie. Their titles, phone numbers, and agent information should all be on this list.

Filmmakers should collect any additional information required for the production in addition to the fundamental information. This could include certain physical needs, dietary limitations, or unique abilities required for the position. The collection of this data at the start of the pre-production phase guarantees that the filmmakers have all the information they need to produce a successful production.

Additionally, it’s critical to keep lines of communication open with the actors during the entire production process. This entails giving them regular updates, responding to any worries or challenges, and making sure they have the resources and support they need to perform to their highest standards.

location scouting

  • Sometimes having one good location can improve your film. When looking for locations, you have to consider the size of the location, parking, transport facilities, and toilets. Do you need to build anything?
  • You also need to check how much control you will have over the location during shooting. You want to have as much as possible.
  • Pay attention to audio problems that may occur in each location- like traffic or electricity. When I find a location I like, I always like to walk around and see if there are other locations in the area I can use. It will also be good if it is close to a first aid station and a police station.
  • You may also want to do insurance for the locations. In the article Making a Low Budget Film, I’m talking about lowering expenses in that area.

The Master Production Calendar

  • Your job as the producer is to plan each day of shooting. You’ll need to decide how many pages of script to shoot each day. Usually, it’s 2-5, but it can be a lot more if you need to save money.
  • Try not to shoot for more than 12 hours a day. Keep the shooting as simple as possible.
  • Each day of shooting, you will publish a daily schedule to make sure everybody knows what they need to do and how much time they have to make that happen.
  • The master production should include a daily schedule for the pre-production and post-production.

Taking care of post-production

  • Your job here is to find editing rooms, video editors, colorists, and sound designers.
  • If the script needs a particular song, you should also think about music licensing.
  • Think about how you want to release the film. Is it through a file? Beta tape? Film?
  • In the Make A Low Budget Film post, I talk about saving money in the post-production stage, so if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend doing it.

More things to take care of in the pre-production stage

So these are the essential things to take care of in the pre-production stage. As I said, it is impossible to go through everything here, but there are a lot of other things to pay attention to, like:

  • creating a final script
  • storyboarding
  • funding more money
  • taking care of communications
  • rent production offices if possible\
  • insurance coverage
  • open account for the production
  • pre-production meetings with all the prominent crew
  • members to ensure they have what they need and more.
  • Pay attention to audio problems that may occur in each
  • location- like traffic or electricity. When I find a location I
  • like, I always like to walk around and see if there
  • are other locations in the area I can use. It will also be good
  • if it is close to a first aid station and a police station.
  • You may also want to do insurance for the locations. In the article Making a Low Budget Film, I’m talking about
  • lowering expenses in that

Get Your Free Video Marketing for Filmmakers Ebook