When bidding on a project, we’re often asked to explain our pricing. Production is easy – if the client wants a high quality video with professional audio and lighting, we can point to each crew member, their role, and their importance to the finished product. Editing is also fairly easy – if we’re shooting for multiple days but the final product is a 5-minute video, the client understands that’s a lot of footage to go through to find what fits the story. But pre-production is harder to explain. A lot of people think that video production is just showing up with a camera and hitting record. But pre-production is what makes production go smoothly, and ensures a high-quality finished product. How, you ask? Let me tell you!
First off, pre-production is defined as work done on a product, especially a film or broadcast program, before full-scale production begins. Clears things right up! All joking aside, pre-production is all the work that we put into the project before anyone even picks up a camera, and that’s what makes the camera part work so well. There are a few main tasks that we have to do ahead of any production work to ensure that we get all the shots we need, everyone is where they need to be, and we have permission to be there!
Meetings, Scripting, and Storyboarding
Pretty much the only instance where you won’t need to have one or two pre-production meetings is event coverage – but even then you want to know if there are specific people you need to interview or scheduled events you have to capture! When it comes to scripted video, the amount of needed pre-production increases. First off, we have to make sure we understand exactly what we need to capture and why. Are you doing a profile of your top executives? Then we need to know what accomplishments of theirs you want to highlight. Are you making a commercial for your product release? Then we need to create a script and figure out the camera angles and shots ahead of time. Having everything understood and laid out ahead of time makes the day(s) of filming go more smoothly, and ensures we don’t miss any needed content.
Hiring Cast and Crew
Involved productions require more crew, that’s obvious. Huge production companies have those crew members in-house. If you’re a smaller company, you need to bring on more people. Good production companies have long-standing relationships with trustworthy freelancers – professionals they’ve worked with before and can rely upon. But hiring the crew, adding them to insurance (did you know that productions require insurance?), and creating call sheets so they know where to be and when all take time. The same thing goes for actors – if you’re shooting a commercial and want a professional, we have to find them, hire them, get them the script and story, and make sure they arrive to the shoot prepared.
Scheduling & Call Sheets
So how do we get all those people to the same spot at the same time? You’d think scheduling would be simple – pick a day and do it, right? But if you’re interviewing your executives, you have to figure out a day where they all have some availability to do an interview. If you want us to cover your event, we need to make sure our crew is available on that day. Actors have other commitments that could conflict, and so on. Scheduling also includes figuring out the order of the day. Who do we film first? Do we need to set up in multiple locations? Does someone have to stick around for the whole day, or can they come for one hour and leave? There are a lot of moving parts in a production, and being able to create a call sheet that outlines every detail helps ensure that everything works together.
I hope that helps explain what exactly pre-production is, and why its such an important part of the overall process. If you have any questions about what else is involved in pre-production, ask in the comments!
Image Credit: Raimond Spekking