Pre-Production is the art of planning your entire production.
During Pre-Production, the majority of business and planning takes place. The budget has been set, money is in an escrow account, and Producers, writers, directors and studio executives work together to plan their production as best they can.
If you are curious about what happens during Pre-Production, one only need to read on. Conversely, if you are also interested in learning more about the other two major stages of Video Production, follow these hotlinks to learn more:
What happens during Physical Production/Principal Photography
What happens during Post Production
Lock Script sounds a lot more technical then it really is. Ideally, the final script should be completed before you get to Pre-Production, but the truth is, it seldom is. I have been on sets where scripts are being re-written in a room next to the filming location. This does not happen often but re-writes the night before the shoot does happen. As a producer/writer/director you want to make sure you have the best script possible. However, you also have a PRODUCTION BUDGET.
Locking the script allows the line producer to look at all the locations, VFX, SFX etc and budget accordingly. Things come up, things change, but big line items, i.e. VFX, locations, etc should remain as close to what was initially approved by all decision-makers as possible. The last thing you want to do is run out of money in post-production.
There are two different types of scouting. Typically the Unit Production Manager, Director, Location Manager/Scout and sometimes Producers visit cities where they plan to shoot so they can find the best locations and equipment needed to successfully film in new locations. The two types of scouting are listed below.
Location Scouting is exactly what it sounds like. The members of production listed above look for locations written into their script. If the script takes place in a castle. The members of Production scour cities to find a castle. If the script calls for a Rocketship, they go to NASA and ask if they can borrow one. I’m kidding. NASA only rents rockets to Bolt Entertainment. Again, joking. However, if someone from NASA is reading this, we will shoot your content, all day long, give us a call. If a scene calls for something not easily attainable, the production team will likely look for a studio to rent.
Within a studio environment, depending on the size, production crews will build the unattainable. The larger productions always rent out studios with multiple stages where they can build elements and environments in the script where multiple scenes are filmed.
Tech scouting is where art meets skill. . .and more planing of course. This is where above the line creatives look at the environments, the locations and decide what they will need to get the shots they envision at specific locations – crew and practical things like where the port o potties will go. Seriously. If the shoot takes place on a remote mountain, where will people relief themselves? I know you are thinking, on the bush on the left, but it’s not that simple. For SAG productions, certain standards must be met. That is not to say that non-union productions will have their crew urinating in bushes, that is unsanitary and unprofessional. I digress, let’s get back on track.
Your crew will need somewhere to park, somewhere to sit between takes, somewhere to eat – and somewhere to use the restroom. These are things taken under consideration during tech scouts.
In addition, directors look at things like the type of equipment they will need. Lenses, Dollies. . .what do we need for ariels? Can we use a drone? Or does the altitude restrict the zoning for a particular drone? Do we now need to look at helicopters? Or do we need to look for a more cost-efficient location? Directors start discussing blocking with the DP.
To an extent, the things we are discussing work hand and hand with each other. Basic things that you will need to look for like crew parking, crafty etc are all part of the logistical stage of Tech Scouting.
The AD and Office PA’s typically field resumes of local crew and starts to staff up. If you are looking for a detailed list of production crew jobs, check this link. This section is pretty self-explanatory so we won’t go too deep. Each production will want to find the most qualified crew members to ensure the highest potential for success.
Here is the fun part. For those lucky enough to schedule a shoot, I tip my hat. Not sure if you were able to detect the sarcasm. This is one of those monotonous details that simply must be done, perfectly. Above the line and below the line talent and crew must be taken into account, as well as the location and what is needed for those locations.
Some scenes may call for 100 extras, others may only need 5. For those days with 100 extras, how many PA’s will you need vs the days with 5 extras. Granted these tasks are usually left up to more seasoned professionals. 1st ADs, 2nd ADs, but if you are just getting started and producing video assets on your own dime, be cognizant of bigger and smaller scenes and how many crew members you actually need onset to set up, break down and capture the shot you need. You or your assistant will be scheduling the entire production and everyone involved yourself.
A great script with bad acting gives you a bad project. For this reason, I highly recommend hiring a great casting director if you have the budget for it. If you don’t, spend a bit of time until you find the right actor. DO NOT RUSH. I would take a bad script with a great actor anyway. As long as your crew knows what they are doing, you can still get a great video out of it, but NO MATTER HOW GOOD THE SCRIPT, if your actors suck, you have nothing.
If you need help during your video production process, have a look at our website, then give us a call. Video Production is what we do.