There are a number of things to plan for and consider before working on a film.
There needs to be a clear idea, from which the treatment, proposal, script and storyboard will build on. Once the story has been decided upon, cast members need to be chosen and crew roles must be decided upon. Locations need to be chosen. A schedule needs to be made. A budget list needs to be created and followed. Equipment needs to be booked. Permissions need to be granted for filming both locations and people. The risks of filming in these locations need to be assessed. A list of shots that the camera operator will follow needs to be created. Documents such as continuity sheets and call sheets need to be made. And.. preparation for sound needs to be made, in the form of a spotting sheet.
Here’s a breakdown of all the pre-production documents needed and how to format them.
First, you need an idea.
Once you have decided upon an idea, the treatment is made. This is a general outline of what the film will be about, who the characters are, and what will happen in each scene. It is meant to give the production team a clearer idea of what their film will be like. The proposal is more detailed, offering additional information such as who the film will be aimed towards (the audience*) and how long it will be.
PLANNING – SCRIPT AND STORYBOARD
Now that there is a clear idea, more planning is needed. Expand on the idea with a script and storyboard. The scripts outlines dialogue for the characters, description of actions and settings, as well as occasional transition details (if necessary). The storyboard beaks the story down (into clear shots for filming).
WHO, WHAT, WHEN AND WHERE (Oh, and How Much!)
So now you have some planning done but you still need to work a few more things out.
WHO: Choosing the Cast and Crew
WHAT: Equipment and Props are Needed (also need to rent them)
WHEN: Production Schedule
WHERE: Location Recee
HOW MUCH: The Budget
ASSESS THE SITUATION
Before you can start filming, you still need to gain the necessary permissions and assess the filming locations.
With all of those pre-production documents completed, there are just a few more preparations needed before you can begin.
Do a Rough Cut
Filming a (very) rough version of your film using the script/storyboard/shot list can help you see whether or not you are ready to film the real thing. More often than not, this helps find holes in your planning and gives you a chance to make whatever changes necessary.
Make preparations for Music and Sound Effect
Think about the music and sound effects needed for the piece. Make plans to collect ambient sound. Make plans to record Foley (or hire people to do this). One of the preparations needed is a spotting sheet outlining all of the sounds that will need to be collected.
Make preparations for Editing
Have a continuity sheet and EDL sheet ready for use during filming. This will help with the editing process later on.
Ready, Set… — Wait! You’ll also need a Call Sheet!
Scheduled events on filming days, contact details for the cast and crew, you name it! You’ll be needing to get this done before you head out to set.
You might also need a Daily Progress Chart — To keep tabs on how you are progressing through production (all stages, in fact!)
Need help creating these documents? We’ve made templates you can use as a guide. Available to subscribed members of our (online) film school. Here’s how you can join too!