- In order for everyone involved with the film to tell the same story, careful planning before any shooting starts is essential. One of the reasons pre-production planning is important is because it's far more expensive and incredibly inefficient to make a movie without it. Think of all the wasted motion involved in making and remaking decisions on a set with a large crew and cast members standing by, waiting for a final decision about a crucial part of the movie. Filmmakers execute ideas of the story on the set, but they make those decisions ahead of time.
Pre-production is the time when the director articulates a vision of the story, and at that time they, along with their collaborators, make the decisions to make it possible to bring the story to life on the set. Every choice a cinematographer makes follows from that statement of vision. From the director, camera body, lens choice, lighting styles, all of these are effected by that vision. The role of the cinematographer is to be the director's advisor for visual storytelling.
And to collaborate with the director to develop the visual language of the movie. The pre-production process is the time when that happens. The cinematographer has a wide array of creative and technical decisions to make. That process can't start without a series of discussions and analysis of the details of the script. The key step in script development is the creation of the shooting script. This is the first time the script has numbers assigned by the first assistant director.
These numbers mark the scenes of the film. The script will continue to evolve; however, the numbers can't ever change. You can insert scenes, you can tell which scenes have been added by the letter that's been added to the scene number. Scenes may be deleted, but they must be written in as omits, with that word added to the scene number. These strict rules exist because the shooting script is the foundation of all pre-production planning by all department heads.
It's a natural part of the filmmaking process for the script to evolve. But what you don't do, is start planning a movie that doesn't exist. You have to wait until the story solidifies into a stable document, so that the entire team can move forward making the same film. It's important to never forget that filmmaking is a collaborative process. The director articulates a vision, the cinematographer is the directors primary advisor for visual storytelling.
They work with an entire team of creative artists to bring that vision into the screen.
Follow along and learn the fundamentals required to shoot a story with a camera. Learn how to plan your production, assemble a crew, choose the right camera and lenses, and make creative choices that best fit the themes, characters, and story of your film. Bill covers the elements of composition, exposure, optics, lighting, and camera movement. Part 2 (coming in November 2016) will show you how to put all these ideas together on set, and deliver the footage to an editor and director for assembly into a complete, coherent, and compelling story.
- Motion picture history
- Preproduction planning
- Working with a crew and actors
- Understanding the story
- Composition in film
- Working with different types of cameras
- Recording, compression, and storage
- Choosing a lens and focal length
- Finding the correct exposure
- Lighting a scene
- Lighting and grip equipment
- Camera movement