Step 2 – Location, Location, Location
Location scouting is an essential part of the pre-production process. In a low budget shoot like this, you may be limited to where you can shoot. It is up to you to find locations that you will be able to use and will serve the story, as well as fit the mood. If you want more detail on location scouting, read our past post! LINK HERE
Step 3 – Storyboard/Shot List
If you want to execute your vision to a tee, make either a storyboard or a shot list. Although it is possible to show up to a shoot and wing it, having a set plan will help everything run smoothly, and ensure you get the results you want. I like to have a storyboard since it helps me see the shot I envisioned in a visual form. This can also be very helpful if you are relaying your shot ideas to a cameraman. Sometimes a shot list will be all you need if you are the cinematographer and cameraman, just make sure it is detailed. For example:
-WS jib down from left to right as Character A walks into screen from camera left
Having your shots already planned will help you get things done quickly and efficiently, which will also allow you to come up with new ideas on the spot, based off of what you have already.
Step 4 – Shooting Schedule
A shooting schedule can be your savior on set. Things like scheduling conflicts, weather, locations, and time of day can all affect the way your shots will look, and when you will be able to shoot them. Having your schedule planned ahead of time can relieve a lot of stress, and makes sure everything you planned on shooting that day gets done. Some things to think about when making your schedule are:
-Plan by location: Are there only certain times of day you can use a location? Will sun, or other time sensitive situations determine how you shoot? Also, to speed up the process, plan your shots according to location…no sense in shooting in script order if that means you will have to go back and forth to locations. Finish all of the shots you need at one location, then move on.
-Characters: Who do you need for the shot? Planning around everyone’s schedules can be tricky, especially if you’re a non union independent production that probably can’t afford to pay everyone. Find out what actors you will need for each scene and plan accordingly to that. Do your best to make sure that nobody is sitting around for hours on set, and they only come when needed.
-Equipment: What kind of equipment will you need for the shoot? Will you be renting something that will force you to get everything done in a certain time frame? If I’m switching between jib, tripod, slider, shoulder rig etc. I like to plan according to that as well. Nobody likes breaking down a jib and switching to a shoulder rig 20 times in one day. Shoot all of your booming exteriors first, and you won’t have to worry about that.
There are other things to consider of course, but trial and error will lead you to your preferred method. I like to create a spreadsheet that contains the shot type, characters, equipment, time of day needed, and any other considerations. Another helpful trick is to color code. I usually color code by location, so when I look down at the schedule it is easy to find what we need to shoot at that location, and so on. There are apps to help you with this whole process, but of course a simple pen and paper will do as well.
One of the last things to consider is any tricky shots or effects you will have to pull off. Do some testing to make sure you can pull it off the way you want! Make sure you have the technical skills, and your equipment can give you the results you need. There is nothing worse than having a big grand finale shot with tons of effects, camera movements, and choreography that falls flat the day of shooting because you weren’t completely prepared. Get out there and recreate that shot ahead of time, edit it together, and make sure you have what it takes to make your big idea a reality!
Once you have gotten this far, you should be just about ready to shoot! Of course there are a few steps we left out such as auditions and rehearsals, but that will vary by project size and budget of course. Starting out casting your friends will rarely give you the best results, but at least it will give you an outlet to get out there and get your feet wet!
Part 2 will be all about production, with some examples from One Eight 7! This is where the real fun begins, so don’t miss it!
Again, feedback and shares are more than welcome! Just #LiftRI to join the community!