THE PRE-PRODUCTION PROCESS
As content creators, it’s perhaps no surprise that we spend the majority of our time in production, creating the multi-platform material we provide to our clients - from stills, to films to dynamic animated content.
The success of any project is often pre-determined by how well it is planned. We firmly believe that the pre-production of any visual project is the stage in the process which demands the most focus, lateral thinking, imagination and efficient, effective communication. With about 75% of a project happening in ‘pre-production’, it’s essential to ensure that the whole production team know exactly what's going on and communicate clearly when they don’t. We’ve recently incorporated cloud hosting for all our production documentation hosting. This way all mood boards, briefs, references, maps, audio ideas etc are saved in one place and can be accessed or supplied to anyone joining the production effort.
With people in different roles needing to meet many separate deadlines, it’s essential to be able to communicate to them exactly which stage you’re at in the project, and keep everyone in the loop on any changes in direction in order to maintain a healthy, stress-free relationship.
Planning the logistical and creative components of the production whilst cross-examining all possible problems to deal with them in advance saves everyone a lot of time, and - interchangeably - money.
IDEAS AND DEVELOPMENT
We all know that brainstorming and developing a concept is usually how things kick off. But it’s important to document this in some way, as we’ve often found there may be certain elements of an idea that you can revisit at a later stage and add into your project.
It goes without saying that it’s important to keep your production on track, as not doing so is a sure-fire way to lose money. Plan exactly what, where and when you’ll be shooting, and what equipment you will need. This includes a shooting schedule with an exact timeline of the location(s) you'll be shooting, when you'll be shooting and how long for. We believe the right starting point should be the ideal outcome as represented by a visual reference. That outcome then has to be costed, and if it doesn’t fit the budget, decisions have to be made about where the project or client will have to modify their aims to accommodate the available funds.
Whether casting for a photoshoot or a film shoot, selecting the right talent as the ‘face’ of your project is often crucial to its success. The requirements will have been discussed and agreed on in the previous stages, so everyone *should be going into this knowing exactly what they’re looking for. Though, we've often found it never hurts to keep an open mind during castings, too. Being open to discovering talent that may not exactly fit in with your initial concept but, in fact, steers you in a slightly different direction might actually end up elevating your overall project. It's all about knowing when to allow for spontaneity and when to stick the plan.
Creating call sheets might be a relatively small task, but it’s important to get the details correct to ensure everyone on the shoot, both cast and crew, knows where they need to be, when they need to be there and who to contact in case of emergencies.
Always have a Plan-B. Things can and will go wrong. It’s always good practice to create a detailed contingency plan, even if you never end up using it. Any unforeseen events or delays could end up costing you, so always, always come armed with a back-up plan.
THE BOTTOM LINE
We think the importance of pre-production speaks for itself. As creatives, we all want to produce and deliver the best possible work to our clients. After all, this is what will represent us and our brand identity, in the digital world and beyond. But more than that, it is our work ethic and our ability to plan and prepare for the production of the project in the first place that we will be remembered for. As the old adage goes: by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. So, prepare, prepare, prepare!