Tag Archives: pre-production

The Art of Pre-Production

17 Aug

In filmmaking, there are three main stages of production: pre-production (planning), production (principle photography), and post-production (editing). Each have their own challenges and rewards, but they all play into one another.

Unless you’re into film, the whole thing can be a little confusing — to make it easy to understand, think of grocery shopping. Pre-production is everything from making the grocery list to driving to the market. Production is doing your shopping. Post-production is finding a place in the fridge for all the food you just bought.


A storyboard from Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” showing the road to the Overlook Hotel.

The pre-production process can easily be the longest of all. In filmmaking, pre-production begins once the script is completed and the production team (mainly the producer and the director), start assembling the parts needed before principle photography. This process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the project.

Much like principle photography, pre-production is an art form. It takes a certain level of mastery to correctly and competently plan a film. Think of preparing for the grocery store — the more work you can do, the better. Do you have your recipes for the entire week planned out? Good, because then you’ll buy exactly what you need. If you don’t plan this out, you may end up spending much more than necessary, or, even worse, you’ll end up opening the fridge on Wednesday only to find out there’s no food left but crusty yellow mustard!

Filmmaking, in this regard, is very similar. Especially on a small shoot, we want to bring all the equipment we need to set — not more, not less. And this is where strict planning comes into play. By knowing what we need ahead of time, we can anticipate additional needs on set while preparing for problems that may arise.

Now, it may seem like filmmaking can be a game of numbers and preparation, but that’s only part of it. Pre-production is also a time when the film’s visual style, pacing, and characters get fleshed out; this is where much of the creativity of filmmaking takes place. When in pre-production it’s important to remember not to think solely in facts in figures, but also in desires and needs.

As filmmakers, maintaining a balance of creativity and reality, is what gets a film off the ground. Keep your head too far in the clouds and you’ll either end up with an unfilmable script or you’ll overshoot your budget; bury your nose in the ledger and you’ll never end up making the film.

I’ll be talking more about the full production process over the next few blog posts, so keep an eye out.

In the meantime, head on over to our Kickstarter and Facebook pages to see what we’re up to!

Au revoir!