Are You There God? It’s Me, Pre-Production
In her 1970 young adult novel, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume introduces us to Margaret, a sixth-grader who’s confused about her mixed religious heritage. To add to her confusion, Margaret’s also dealing with boys, bras, menstruation and Spin The Bottle. Her life, it seems, is completely out of control, unorganized, scary.
It’s not unlike the pre-production process, really. Everything seems unorganized and out of control.
Last Things First
The first job in pre-production is to think of the last thing – the final video. Essentially you’ll be determining all the video needs. How will it be used? Where will it be used? What is the final file type needed? How long should it be? Will there need to be graphics? If so, who’s making those graphics? Is a music track required? Is the video scripted or is it an interview style? Will there need to be B-Roll?
And Then Work Backwards
At goBRANDgo!, things happen fast. So, we plan on a 3-14 day pre-production period, averaging around 5-6 days. If you’ve considered the questions above, then it’s time to start the actual planning. And I suggest working backwards from Production Day – This is the day (or days) of the actual shoot at an actual location (or studio).
- 6 days out
- Schedule location, crew and equipment. Schedule these now. (Note: If a location scout is needed, this is typically done prior to this step.) Schedule one hour for the crew to set up, 30-min per person that is being interviewed/on camera and one hour for tear down. For large video shoots, we’ll need to use a Call Sheet and schedule the equipment needed.
- 5 days out
- Schedule the talent. In our case, we’re usually talking about clients, not actors. You may need to work with an Account Manger. (If we are working with actors, we will have to schedule a casting and selection process. This should be done at least 15 days prior to production. Storyboarding or script wrtiting will also have to be done and approved early on.)
- 4 days out
- Schedule the graphic designer. Designers should be made aware of all needs, direction, “feel” of the video – anything that will make their job easier and the end product awesome.
- 3 days out
- Finalize the script or storyboard.
- 2 days out
- Create the shot list.
- 1 days out
- Send the Video Release Form(s) to talent or client.
The job of the pre-producer is to make sense out of chaos; to organize details; to manage the process efficiently and create order. But successful pre-production leads to successful post-production, so let’s make some sense out of it. And, much like Margaret, learn to appreciate that joy that comes through surviving the pandemonium.