Pre-production key to a successful shoot

pre-planningWe recently had the privilege to work with Georgia HOPE on an initiative to put permanent, licensed therapists into local schools in order to address mental and behavioral health issues on a more timely and effective basis. We had to interview almost two dozen individuals at multiple locations in order to capture the entire story and provide a clear and concise summation of HOPE in school for Georgia HOPE to use to encourage other school systems to implement the program in their own schools.

Invariably, every shoot has its own challenges. Sometimes it comes down to equipment failures, weather chooses not to cooperate, guests/actors provide unusable footage or the venues turn out to have terrible aesthetics. However, this most recent project was by far one of the easiest and least stressful in recent memory and it all came down to one thing — a clear focus on pre-production.

For those who may have never been involved in coordinating a video shoot, there are many moving parts and several key skill-sets are brought to bear in order to provide a high quality production. And each of these resources generally bill on a day-rate. (In terms of filmmaking, a typical half-day shoot is 6 hours or less, while a full-day is generally 12 hours.) We jokingly let people know we will not be providing a 2-KC production: two kids and a camcorder. At a minimum, you need an experienced camera operator, sound operator and lighting person. Depending on the locations, you may need to bring extra crew to move equipment, stage the areas to be filmed, make-up/hair stylists, wardrobe, food and catering services and an on-set medical person. And, once it’s all done, you move to editing the footage, followed by color correction and sound editing before delivering the final product.

This helps explain why video shoots can become an expensive endeavor. However, as was the case in the Georgia HOPE shoot, our contact took the concept of pre-production to heart. We always advise our clients about the importance of this phase of a video shoot because it costs almost nothing to think through each and every element of a production. Our client took time to figure out how many people needed to be filmed and then made sure the maximum number of them would be available at the same time for each location. She also prepared everyone ahead of time with sample questions so they would be better able to speak succinctly on camera.

It takes a lot of time to setup and breakdown all of the equipment used in a shoot. If we can prevent unnecessary setups and breakdowns, we can spend more time getting the shots we need, which translates into a huge cost savings for the client. Getting everything filmed in one day versus three can effectively cut the budget by anywhere from 40%-70%.

Of course, you never want to sacrifice the quality of the shoot just to save a few dollars. But, spending the hours necessary to maximize what can be done on any given shoot-day will payback huge dividends, not only in terms or budget, but also in terms of avoiding problems. This is why most film shoots are never shot in chronological order. It would be cost-prohibitive to do so. Instead, we try to maximize everything we can get in one location before moving to another and is why pre-production is key to a successful shoot.

At AJS Productions, whether you want to film a commercial, a training video, a documentary, a short movie or a full-blown film, we can help make it come to life. We will sit down with you and make sure you understand all of the elements that need to be considered and lend you our expertise to keep both your budget and your vision in mind. Contact us today for a no-cost consultation.

 

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