The Importance of Pre-Production

Planning is essential to nearly every project we have taken on over the course of human history. Imagine constructing a building without a blueprint, going on a road trip without a map, or shaving your back without a mirror. Well, maybe not that last one…Video production is not excluded from the importance of planning, which is referred to as ‘pre-production’ in the film industry. Some of the key steps include: creating a budget, writing a script, outlining the storyboard, drafting the shotlist, and scheduling the shoot.


You have a great idea for a video, but where do you start? Every video project should start with a budget. This will establish a set of guidelines for the production team to follow throughout the course of the project. It also helps set expectations for both the client and the film crew. If you have a budget of $10,000, you shouldn’t expect a Spielberg-esque production; likewise, the production team shouldn’t deliver a monkey-with-an-iPhone level product.


It sounds obvious, but a script is necessary if you have any dialogue or narration in your video. It is the blueprint that the production team will reference throughout the entire process – everything they do will be in service of the script. Re-writes are part of the process and are bound to happen. These re-writes are necessary because they help fine-tune your story and solidify the themes you want to convey.


Now, you’ve got a budget and a script. Time to start filming, right? Wrong! You need to know what you are filming. This is where the storyboard comes in. A storyboard is a visual representation of the script that shows what each shot in the film is going to look like. Each new frame on a storyboard is a new camera setup. Storyboards are very important to the film crew because it gives them a pictorial reference for how to set up the shot and what camera movements are expected. It takes the guesswork out of the process, which can be a huge time killer on set. A storyboard isn’t just for the production team though. Editors use the storyboards to keep footage organized, which keeps the post-production process efficient and on-budget.


The final two pieces of the pre-production puzzle, the shot list and schedule, work hand-in-hand, and are often established at the same time. You must have a shot list and schedule. One more time for the people in the back. YOU MUST HAVE A SHOT LIST AND SCHEDULE. A shot list is exactly what it sounds like, a list of all the shots you are expecting to get during production. It works like a checklist for the production crew. Having a shot list is only half the solution. Creating a detailed schedule tells the production team when, where, and at what time they are filming each shot on the shot list. This tool helps keep the filming process organized and punctual. The client can follow along with the shot list and schedule so they know exactly what is being completed for each day of the filming process. This helps to keep everyone on the same page and the entire production transparent to everyone involved. You must have a shot list and schedule. Is it sinking in, yet?


What can sound boring on paper (it’s literally all on paper) can save you time and money in the long run. It helps keep people in check and establishes a vision for the project. Pre-production can be the difference between failing and thriving. Do you think Marvel skipped this stage of the process? Think again.