Video Production 101 Part 1: Pre-Production Site Planning

 In Arts, Home Page

This is part one of a three-part series from our friend and guest-blogger, Tom DeAngelis, Producer/Director/Owner of the Production House, LLC in Toms River, NJ.

It’s the beginning of a new school year so, it seems to be an appropriate time to pick up the thread we’ve been following in examining the anatomy of a video production.

So far we’ve discussed:
1. The roll writing plays in helping you to think clearly as you go through the production process.
2. The importance of identifying the message of your show and thinking visually about how to deliver that message.
3. How to develop your script or storyboard into a shot sheet that will be your blueprint to execute the visual story you’ve chosen to tell.

By now most everyone is probably starting to get itchy to grab the video camera and start shooting. But, given most types of projects, that would be a mistake. We’re not quite ready. Remember, we want, not just to create a great and memorable show, but to be as efficient as possible in doing so. Thinking each step of the process through and planning on the front end will save many problems later in the process.

Sidebar to this concept

In 1978 Michael Cimino was the co-writer, director and producer for the film “The Deer Hunter. The film won 5 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. It ran over budget and over schedule. However, it was a massive critical and financial success. His two critical mistakes were overlooked and Cimino was a given a pass.

Feeding off the success of “The Deer Hunter”, United Artists gave Cimino free reign over his next film, “Heaven’s Gate”. The film went grossly over schedule and grossly over budget. It went so far beyond these two limits that United Artists almost went bankrupt and the entire way Hollywood approached the business of film making changed forever.

Steven Bach wrote a book called, “Final Cut” that chronicled the disaster the was “Heaven’s Gate” and Cimino never again made a film of any consequence. He died in 2016 at the age of 77 unfortunately leaving “Heaven’s Gate” as the film for which many people remember him.

So, what do we need to do to assure as best as possible, not accounting for “Acts of God” that we don’t go drastically over schedule and over budget? You might think, “What does a major motion picture have to do with me producing a short video?” Let’s remember that over budget can mean you’ve gone $50.00 over the $100.00 you told your neighbor it would cost to do a short video editing still pictures to music for grandpa’s 80th birthday party. And, over schedule could mean you were to have this ready to play at grandpa’s party on April 6, but it wasn’t done. So, while the guests are waiting to be entertained, there will be no video for grandpa.

Everything is relative to your client and the project.

More Planning in the Production Process

Site Surveys

If you are not using only stock footage or photos and flat art that need to be scanned, you will need a location to shoot your video.

The shooting script and shot sheet will dictate what and where the location will be.  However, in order to avoid any “shoot day” surprises that typically become disasters, you need to physically visit the site if possible. Quite obviously your ability to do this may be determined by real physical distance, budget and even deadlines.

With that being said there is no substitute for seeing your location first hand. Ideally, you will be able to scout a location before deciding if it is appropriate for your shoot.  Many times that is not the case, especially when you’re producing an event.  If you’re shooting a seminar at a hotel or a ribbon cutting at a park, they will be the locations.  You have no choice, but you can visit the site ahead of time and be prepared for what you will be dealing with.

Stay tuned for part two, coming next week, which will talk about more specifics on what to plan for at your site before you start the video shoot!

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