Film and Television Pre-Production Activities

by Peter D Marshall

Here is a quick reference pre-production activity list for directors.

PRE-PRODUCTION ACTIVITIES

1. Location Scouts

– the location manager has a concept meeting with the producers and the director after reading the script
– the location manager finds as many choices as possible for the Director
– (always try and group as many locations together as possible)
– scouts: Director/Location Manager/1st AD/Producer/PM or UPM/Art Director/Transportation Co-ord or a Driver

First Scouts (when there is lots of time!)
– does it work for the Director
– does it work for the schedule

Last Scouts (when there is no time left!)
– does it work for the schedule
– does it work for the director

2. Department Head Meetings

The director should have the following meetings:
– concept meeting with producers/location manager/art director
– script meeting with producers and writer (if available)
– casting meeting with producers and casting director
– costumes
– props
– set dec
– special FX
– stunts
– extra casting
– transportation
– other (animals,optical FX)
– visit the set and talk to the DOP/hair & make up/sound/actors

3. Director/1st AD Meeting

– go through the script scene-by-scene
– give the AD a list of all special equipment needed (crane, steadicam, circle track, special lenses, insert car etc.)
– find out what he thinks/what he says/what he wants

4. Production Co-Ordinator

– consult them regarding your travel, hotel arrangements, family travel etc.

5. Production Manager

– go over all concerns with PM (budget etc)
– prep is the time to organize (make mistakes on paper)
– go in prepared and speak your mind (“CYA”!)
– let them know if you foresee a problem early (overtime etc.)

6. Extra Casting Meeting/Budget

– 1AD, 2AD, Extra Casting, Costume Designer go over the extra’s for the show

7. Stunts and Special FX

– get to know the Stunt Co-ordinator and SPFX Co-ordinator
– (the 1AD is the on-set Safety Supervisor-Safety Meetings)
– go over all details of a stunt or special FX so you know the potential dangers, length of time for shooting and other details

8. Animals

– talk to the trainers about the animals and the script
– take time to watch them rehearse the animals
– find out the animal’s specific feeding times, work times habits

9. Children

– scheduling is more difficult with children under age 16
– get to know the parents, guardians and tutors
– always be honest with parents and tutors. Let them know what is really going on regarding time etc.

10. Day-Out-Of-Days(DOD)

– this shows you the work, travel, hold days for all actors

11. One Liner
– sets the schedule out on a “one line” basis for quick reference (usually on Movie Magic)

12. Key Location Survey

– Director, 1AD, 2AD, PM, LM, ALM, Producer, Set Dec, Art Director, DOP, Grip, Gaffer, Transportation Captain, Construction Co-ord, Sound

13. Production Meeting

– review of all production arrangements and the director’s concepts
– the AD reads through the script scene-by-scene (no dialogue) and not by the one-liner
– every department discusses with the director their specific requirements
– it is an open discussion about the show
– it is usually the last time anything can be asked for by the director (re: budget)

14. The Shooting Schedule (1AD)

– the show information (individual elements) is put into breakdown pages for distribution to crew

15. Stock Shots, Second Unit, Video Playback, Photographs, Inserts

– these items have a tendency to be forgotten. Make sure the AD has noted them

Copyright (c) 2000-2011  Peter D. Marshall / All Rights Reserved

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