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What is Pre-Production?

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This is the second phase of the film making process (after development). You engage in this phase once you have secured financing for your project and your the final draft of your script has been written. The main objective of this task is to assemble your team, derive a schedule, finalize your budget and secure your locations. Assuming you have secured all of your above the line talent, one of the first things you’ll need to do is hire your casting director to cast the remaining roles of the film. Have him/her start searching for and narrowing down the actors to approximately 5-10 for each role. While your casting director is doing that you can assemble the rest of your crew. Of course, every crew member is important, but if you had to narrow your crew down to the top five most important people, most directors would say: DP, Production Designer, Editor, Script Supervisor, and First AD. Once you have secured those people then start recruiting the rest of your team. After this is done, you are going to work with your director, production designer and first AD to scout for locations. After securing locations, you will work with the first AD and the director to develop a shooting schedule. Once you know how many days your actors and crew members will be working, and how long you will be spending at each location, you can start building your budget. You should have already started working on your preliminary budget during the development phase in order to secure financing, but now that you have more details ironed out, you can start fine tuning your budget. During this time, as a producer, you are also working with your UPM to get permits and sort out all legalities involved in shooting at certain locations. Your production designer is preparing all the set designs, art work, and props. Your DP and director are working on shot lists, determining the visual tone of the film, and sorting out all the angles needed for thorough coverage. The director will also work with the DP to storyboard all of the scenes. After your casting director has narrowed down the field to 5-10 actors for each major role, the director – and sometimes the producer – will watch the tape of all the actors and see if there is anyone that can be cut just from watching tape. Then the casting director will call in all the remaining actors to read for the director. The director ultimately chooses which actor will be chose for each role. Some times the director will narrow it down to 2-3 candidates for each role and have them do chemistry testing. Finding the right actors can be a long and daunting task, but having a great performances in your film is arguably the most important aspect next to the story. Once all this is achieved, you are ready to move into production and push “record”!

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