Join Chad Perkins for an in-depth discussion in this video How long should pre-production be?, part of Creating a Short Film: 03 Pre-Production.
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- So, how long should you plan on pre-production being? This really varies wildly depending on the project. I was told by some colleagues before starting that a month of pre-production is generally a good rule of thumb on a short film. Now, I've made other short films in the past, several of them, and my films tend to need more pre-production time for sets, makeup tests, and so on than most indie dramas do. But even for my films, a month of pre-production was usually fine. For The Assurance though, it wasn't nearly enough. We had key crew members quit at the last minute or were just too busy to help, so most jobs fell on my shoulders.
I did the best I could, but I didn't do a very good job in a lot of cases. But after developing the script, I realized that this world needs to feel like it's dying. That meant that we had to shoot before springtime really hit and made everything all pretty and all the blossom blew and everything. So, we couldn't make pre-production any longer than a month or else we'd bump into that time frame. In your project, you might need to hit festival deadlines, or appease investors, so you might have limits on the length of your pre-production as well. For most dramatic indie shorts though, I think a month of pre-production usually suffices.
But for projects that have heavy demands on the art department, like ours did, or any project that has a big sci-fi or fantasy elements or even a lot of action or stunts or something, be aware that you might get better result with a little more time than a month.
Learn how to prepare the assets, such as shooting scripts, storyboards, and shot lists. Discover how to schedule and budget a shoot, and keep costs down while leaving room for the creative decisions that need to be made along the way. Find out how to hire a crew, scout and secure locations for each scene, and prepare props, sets, and wardrobe for actors. Learn what you need to do to keep your people safe, and the things you can prepare ahead of time to make sure production and post-production run smoothly.
There are more filmmaking tips to be had! Make sure to watch the first installment to learn about the background of the project and to get an overview of the role of the producer. Look for the follow-up episodes to learn more about writing, directing, working with actors, editing and visual effects, and everything else that goes into filmmaking.
- Turning the script into a shooting script
- Working with script breakdown software such as Adobe Story
- Creating storyboards and a shot list
- Scheduling the shoot
- Budgeting the shoot and post-production
- Hiring a crew
- Preparing sets and costumes
- Scouting locations
- Creating props
- Preparing assets for post-production