FILM PRODUCTION PLANNING
Film is without a doubt a medium that can quickly and effectively influence viewers in many different ways. Depending on the scope of the project, several types of skills, equipment, and environments may be required for film production.
But producing film can also be a streamlined and relatively uncomplicated, affordable process. For me, pre-planning a film is key for it to be a successful production. Planning ahead gives everyone involved a good overview and helps avoid potential mistakes and misunderstandings.
My planning process for film projects is straightforward and consists of 6 simple steps.
1. Project description – Let us briefly define and decide the basic idea of your film project and its scope.
2. Brainstorming – With an open mind, this is the step where we transform your goal and basic idea into something more tangible. Something we can actually create a finished film from – without breaking the bank or being forced to make too many creative compromises.
3. Moodboard – Here’s where we organize all our inspiration and references from the previous steps so that they are visualized into the film project in a clear way.
4. Storyboard – The goal in this step is to visualize the most important scenes/parts of your film with rough sketches or a slide show.
5. Checklist – This step is important so that we plan each scene, calculate necessary scene-time required, film locations, determine lighting and focus on each scene’s “DNA”.
6. Call Sheet – This is about organizing and scheduling the film’s production, different areas of responsibility, and ensuring that the film production team and other stakeholders are on one common call sheet, ie a combination of schedule and list of responsibilities.
Once all 6 steps are finalized, filming can begin!
MY TEN FILM PRODUCTION TIPS
1. Don’t film multiple scenes in a single long take. With short, separate sequences, it will be a lot easier to plan your film in advance and edit it afterwards.
2. Vary angles in a scene by filming from above, below and from different positions around the subject. Varied angles help keep up the interest for your story.
3. Always use a tripod or the camera’s and lens’s image stabilization feature (if available). Unstable film can be creatively useful, but if too much of your story is shaky, it could easily become a distraction.
4. Composition. Frame each scene beautifully, but pay attention so that the background and surroundings don’t steal too much attention from the main subject.
5. Always film longer sequences than you need. Give each scene at least five seconds before and after you start recording the scene’s plot. This gives you extra material to edit with, should you need it.
6. Don’t zoom in on a scene during filming it’s not consciously planned. Use your feet instead to get closer or create distance from the subject.
7. Always try to film with the main light source behind the main camera. Use ambient, natural light as much as possible and possibly a reflector to lighten up shadows and dark areas.
8. Use prime lenses. In general, fixed focal length lenses are sharper, more sensitive to light (good in low light) and offer a more cinematic “look” than most zoom lenses.
9. Although poor film quality can be seen as an artistic expression, poor audio will inevitably distract. Spend time and love on getting great sound recording!
10. Film in High Resolution. By filming in 4k and then editing on a 1080p timeline, you get the opportunity to zoom in during editing. It’s like having a two camera setup when filming!
EIGHT ESSENTIAL MOVIE COMPONENTS
1. Character. For successful storytelling, the film should convincingly introduce a character or subject whose story people want to see and listen to.
2. Intrigue. A movie is always a kind of journey. The main character or subject must convey a kind of movement that causes a change of attitude or takes the viewer on an emotionally interesting “journey”.
3. Conflict. This is the essence of most drama. The more you can involve the audience in the subject or character’s struggle in a conflict, the more interesting your story will be to follow.
4. Resolution. A cinematic resolution where the main character or subject wins over antagonistic forces, is almost always the highlight of a film.
5. Structure. A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. But not necessarily in that order. On the contrary! There is a lot of room for creativity here.
6. Scenes. A scene is very the building block of a script and a film’s most basic component. From a purely cinematic point of view, everything that happens at the same time at any given moment point is a “scene”.
7. Dialogue. Each line in a film can fulfill several functions – from entertaining and seducing the audience, to making them feel empathy, even with the coldest, darkest characters.
8. Vision. It’s important that the film’s vision, its soul and purpose, in addition to being entertaining, are included from the idea stage until it’s ready to be shown.