Tips in Movie Production Planning
Professionals do not content themselves with making plans. They implement them and follow through on them.
Writing the script is not exactly planning. However, the resulting script forms the basis for all decisions that have to be made to prep up production. Having no script will prevent you from costing the program, designing its look, determining the crew and equipment needed, listing the locations or sets, budgeting the production or setting a schedule. Only a true script can provide the means to plan as opposed to an outline no matter how long it is. Non-fiction programs typically use a two-column (audio and video) formatted script to include complete narration and essential audio as well as the visuals.
Contrary to popular belief that special effects belong in post production, the most convincing effects are fully planned in pre-production so that every detail can be seamlessly integrated by implementing the plan. That is why it is important to develop these special effects before you start scouting for locations and budgeting props. Compositing and computer graphics can only do so much without the right foundation.
Budgeting and scheduling come together. Whereas scheduling brings the right cast members, crews and equipment to the right location at the designated time, budgeting is equally crucial no matter if the people are paid by the hour, day or simply donating their time. Good planning allows for considerable savings as being able to shoot all scenes that require the use of a prop that costs $200 a day back-to-back so that it can be returned as soon as possible.
A contingency plan should always exist. This is about being able to shoot something else if certain problems are encountered such as inclement weather or absence of an actor. Good production planners budget the show on an itemized scale. Very few people have the luxury of having unlimited funds and even if you do have such funds, it is not wise at all to be spending it on unnecessary things.
Through experience, you will find out soon enough that not everything happens exactly the way we want it to. That is why it is very important to pay attention to other details that might lead to some unwanted effects on the finished product and the budget. Mistakes mean lose of money. Always check your subject background, foreground, balance, tension and consistency. The color composition is a major part of many motion pictures and it is a bad idea to neglect to put it to good and maximum use.
The size of the project and the budget determines the type and source of talent. Another consideration would be the demands that are to be placed on the talent in terms of acting ability, memorization of lines and other artistic needs. There are about 5 major pools of talent from which to get one from. These are family and friends, members of the organization for which the project is being done, professional in the fields being portrayed, theater and media students from local schools and theater groups and professional actors and voice talents.
Friends and family is the cheapest and most convenient option but not necessarily the easiest group to work with. The use of members of the organization for which the project is being produced can be rewarding, successful and easy on the pocket. Extreme care should be taken when selecting the talent as he /she should be one who can accept direction and occasional criticism. Casting real people engaged in the profession supposedly played by the character is always a good option. They can probably provide real characterization to the role instead of training an actor to do the work.
Community theater groups, high school and college theater groups are usually willing to work on projects at a lesser cost, a copy of the finished product or even for gas money. A thing to remember about theater students is that they tend to project their voices and gestures to an audience that is far away. Adjustments may have to be made to adapt to the intimacy of the video screen.
Professional talents are paid to do the work they do. Thus, there is an often an implication that they are more experienced and more talented. However, there are some that actually do not even have the experience of local theater members but are nevertheless considered professional talents by virtue of their membership to an Actors Guild. You can take the time to check their performance credentials just to be sure.
Casting can be a very tedious process especially if you do not go in prepared with an idea of what you want. There are times that you may need to give in to certain compromises if what was originally desired cannot possibly be had under certain circumstances. Hiring a good voice talent is just as important as the on-camera talent. The voices used in the film can make or break your production.
While you’re at it, why not do some camera exercises to help make your work more professional looking. The key lies in practice. Running a camcorder is a tricky balancing act that demands a wide range of skills both physically and mentally. The first thing to practice is how to have the camera rolling in time for the big moment. The next is to simulate a classic trouble situation by running an obstacle course just to see how steady your grip remains. Finally, get some practice with manual focusing for advanced variations.
Author: Simon Dumville is a Senior Consultant and Art Director with over 10 years experience in Project Management/Marketing in the internet industry.
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