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Weekly Video Tip: Why is Pre-Production Important?

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By Stephen Schweickart

Most amateurs think that shooting a video is a piece of cake. They think they can just pick up a camera, find a location, and start filming like they own the place. Well guess what? That’s not the case. If you do that, you’re begging the universe to dump every problem it can think of on you, and your shoot is going to fall apart. This, my friends, is why pre-production is so important.

You’ve got to shake that John Wayne “I can do anything” attitude and sit down and make a plan. There’s a lot to think about when you’re running a film shoot, and not having some sort of outline of events will get you way behind schedule before you can even say “ACTION.”

First and foremost, you’ll need a script. This is generally the first part of pre-production since if you don’t have a story to shoot, how do you plan to film anything? Workshopping the script into a clean concise message—whether it be a narrative or an informational video—is paramount for creating a successful video.

Another huge step is storyboarding, but you are obviously already storyboarding pros since you’ve watched our video about that process. If you haven’t seen our video on storyboarding, click here and go scope it out. But trust me, having a shot list before you get to a shoot is key.

Make an equipment checklist. Why? Because if you don’t, you’ll pack up your gear, drive over to your location and that’s when you’ll realize you forgot batteries, or a specific light, or some other thing that you definitely didn’t write down. Make a list, check it twice, and you’ll thank yourself when you don’t have to rush around town trying to find something to replace an item you forgot.

The last thing I’m really going to try and hammer home is permitting. Sounds really fun, right? No, it’s not, but it’s an essential part of shooting on public property. Want to shoot in a park? Then you need a permit from your local film office, otherwise the second your tripod legs hit the dirt, the 5-0 are going to roll up on you, and while you’ll most likely wind up with an interesting story to tell, your day will be wasted and you’ll be stuck hauling your gear around to another shoot that hopefully you get properly permitted.

On top of all that, you need to make sure you’ve got food and drinks for your cast and crew, power to run your lights, enough tape or SD card media to cover your whole shoot, and a host of other things that if not thought about beforehand will bring your shoot to a grinding halt one way or another. So take our word for it, pre-production is the most important phase of making your video. Do it right, and you’re almost guaranteed a successful shoot.

Stephen Schweickart is the co-founder of VScreen. For more information on this topic, visit VScreen’s site at http://www.vscreen.com/.

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