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.



We Can Make a Difference – video for Advocates for Children

A couple months back, AJS Productions was approached to help a local non-profit create a video for their annual Spring Benefit. The runway was short and the assignment was daunting — create a short video showing the plight of those abused children in the community and how programs like the ones managed by Advocates for Children are vital for not just their safety but as a means of putting them back on the road to success. As challenging as it was, the mission of Advocates is near and dear to our own hearts and we began in earnest to carve out a script for the video shoot. During that time, we also had to lock down shooting locations, props, actors and other production elements. Even the smallest video shoot needs weeks of pre-production to make sure its many moving parts are working together.

MonsterBusterHeaderAs with our prior video projects, we pulled in Torey Haas, owner-operator of MonsterBuster Entertainment, who would be responsible for gathering the appropriate crew for the shoot. He was also hired to be the lead editor once the shoot wrapped and moved into post-production.  Our two companies have excellent working relationships and we took to the challenge of not just meeting the deadline, but coming in under budget and ahead of schedule.

And we did!

We are happy to be able to share that video with you now and hope you keep the subject matter in mind wherever you may live. These stories happen everyday and there are so many non-profits who rely on the goodness and generosity of those in the community to be able to continue in the service of their mission. We would love for anyone seeking any kind of video production to reach out to us here at AJS Productions, but, more importantly, regardless of your needs, we would hope you would make it a point to donate something to those groups that serve your community, often unsung and without praise.

Please feel free to share and leave comment, not just here on our blog, but on the YouTube channel itself to let Advocates for Children know your thoughts and whether or not this short video affected you in some way.

Thank you!