Pre-Production, for Realz

by Hugh BrownstoneLeave a Comment

If you were to allocate percentages to your pre-production, production and post, what would they be?

For me, actual production always takes the least amount of time (yet we spend SO much time obsessing about the gear – can we call that pre-pro? No, not really.). On the other hand, I usually allocate the single biggest proportion of my effort to post. This is the nature of most of my projects. But for complex projects, it’s mostly in the planning. Duh.

This is especially true when I have a client who has not yet truly locked down her branding or the objective of her video project – but this is great fun and I enjoy working with clients to get this sorted.

The guys over at have come up with a nice laundry list for what real pre-production on a complex project looks like, and I find myself really taking exception to just two things:
1. the short shrift they give to what they want to accomplish with the project; and
2. the short shrift they give to script writing (then again, I would: I write screenplays).

But that’s just me.

Or is it?

We’d like to know how you allocate time and resources among pre, production and post on your projects. Please let us know in the comments section below.

What To Do Before You Start Shooting: Ultimate Pre-Production Guide

Via Watch Indie:

I want to help walk you through the steps of pre-production, and share with you some great resources and programs that will have you working productively and focused on your story.


You gotta start somewhere and get the ideas in your head out on paper. Different people work all different ways when doing this, and there is no right or wrong strategy, but if you want some structure in your brainstorming process there are a few good programs that can help.

Freemind– Freemind is a java-written mind mapping tools that allows you to organize your thoughts and research into a comprehensive, easy-to-follow chart. You can also add working external links so that everything remains in one place.

XMind– XMind is a prettier version of Freemind. This works across devices so you can work on the go, and it comes with all kinds of nifty features to help you in whatever ideas you’re trying to get out. There’s a free version and XMind also has Plus ($79) and Pro ($99) versions that offer additional features. You can also sign up for a subscription to XMind for $79 per year.

One of the key focuses of brainstorming your movie is to develop your characters. You want to make likable, dynamic, realistic characters that tell your story. What do they look like? Where do they come from? How do they talk? There’s all kinds of ways writers will do this. Some do character breakdown sheets, others interview their fictional characters to get a better idea of who they are.

Here are 5 great tips to keep in mind from

This is a fantastic technique to get you thinking of your character in a more dynamic way

Using psychoanalytics to make a character feel real

The psychology of story-telling

writing a script


Once you’ve finished brainstorming and the story is flushed out we move on to to the art of the screenplay. Although different writers have their own individual styles there is a basic format for screenplays, and there are great programs to keep you looking professional.

The structure of a screenplay

Celtx– Celtx is a fantastic piece of software used by almost everyone I know. It’s free to use for script writing purposes, and is very easy to figure out. Celtx also charges a monthly fee for all of it’s other features like call sheets, and budgeting. It’s a great all in one package for indie filmmakers.

Final Draft– Final Draft is the industry standard for script writing. It’s $129.00 for the educational version, but if you can afford it you can’t beat it.

You’ll want to do several drafts and take your time when creating your script. Some of the best movies took decades to write.

Read full article at Watch Indie “What To Do Before You Start Shooting: Ultimate Pre-Production Guide”

(cover photo credit: snap from Watch Indie)

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