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How To: Budget Filmmaking Part 3 – The End of Pre-Production

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This is Part 3 of TechWench’s series on Budget Filmmaking, in previous instalments we have covered the importance of your script, planning and your network of filmmaking fellows. In this episode we will cover inventory, location scouting and the logistics of organising a shoot.
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Inventory

This may seem like a bit of a misnomer if you are planning your first production but let me assure you it isn’t, it’s vital to have a defined inventory of what you will require to create your film. Vital. You have your vision, you have your script, you have your storyboards and you’ve made the friends you’ll need to realise your film. Now you need to list exactly what you’ll need for the film, this inventory should cover; props (want your character to drive a car? You’ll need a car), costumes (per character, per scene) and necessary equipment (a whole article in itself) as a minimum. Be extensive and catalogue the location of all your necessary props (should you be borrowing them, which, chances are, you will be) so that you know what to collect, from where, at what time for which specific scene. This is where some filmmaking etiquette early on can help you in your filmmaking career, ask well in advance if you wish to borrow something, give them specific dates you wish to use it, promise to return it by a certain date and deliver on that promise. Getting yourself a bad name for losing or returning props or equipment late can get you a bad name early on meaning that people will be less willing to help you further down the line should you work with them on other projects or need to reshoot any scenes.

Location Scouting

This is a process that you will have a rough idea for when you are writing your script, you will obviously be writing scenes and those scenes must obviously occur somewhere. It is best not to aim too high on this front and there are a number of considerations which you must be aware of. For example; you set a scene in or around a school. Considerations; is it day or night in your scene? Are there children visible in your sequence? How long do you require the set for? If you’ve set your scene in the day then you will have to work around the school, they will not interrupt regular proceedings for your personal project. If there are children visible you will have to get permission slips from the parents for EVERY visible person under the age of 18, a massive logistical task which may best be avoided. Are the children audible? Shooting your scene at break time or recess will generate a lot of noise on your audio track; this is a consideration for shooting near schools as well as on the grounds themselves. Consider when you want the location, for how long and what you want to change about that location. Visit your potential locations regularly to see how they appear throughout the day as lighting may be good in the morning but bad by noon, a consideration pending on how long you plan to shoot there. Do you need to book your location? If it is public grounds then maybe not, if it is private property the owner may wish to see some insurance coverage before they allow you to film there. As with all things; be considerate. You may have found the perfect office block to film a chase scene through but will the company want you disrupting business? Keep your name clean in case you need to reshoot at any point or use the location for other projects.

Logistics

Ok so you’ve got your scripts sorted, production roles filled and your inventory is full of guns and wizard hats, let’s set up the camera now, right? Wrong. Now you need to create your production schedule, the itinerary for your production phase; this needs to cover exactly what or who will be needed when and where. The success of your production schedule will act as a good measure of how successful you are at fulfilling the role of producer. Organising all necessary costumes, locations and actors and getting them all to show up at the same time is akin to organising smoke and why a good production schedule is absolutely paramount. Once this is thrown out of whack the rest of the production will suffer so be sure to create it with leeway, book anybody, anything, anywhere well in advance of your planned shoot. Be considerate of your production team here also, chances are expecting them to film 7 nights a week will lead to bad morale and lower productivity as a result.

That about covers it for the pre-production phase of budget filmmaking and from the above we can see the importance of planning your production to the nth degree and with fluidity in mind. Be sure to join us in the next episode which will deliver some killer tips for selecting your equipment, how to cut costs but not cut corners!

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