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Film preproduction overview

Film Preproduction - Overview

You are now entering the phase known as Film Preproduction. This time is only next in importance to creating the Great Script. Once you start shooting during Production the money is going to start to flow and anything you didn't throughly plan is going to go wrong. Thank you, Murphy's Law!

Take advantage of this last chance to get all the details right when it is just you and your closest collaborators working for free. At this time you will put on your producer's hat in anticipation of being able to switch to a director's hat when you start production.

Get a great script.

This was already covered in the previous section but it can't be emphasized enough. Make sure it really is a great script! Don’t continue until you are sure you have a script that tells a great story. Get confirmation from knowledgeable people.

Budget and Financing: Establish that there is a market for this film if is going to be an expensive feature film. Just because it's a great story doesn't mean enough people want to see it to make it worthwhile to film. When you're a success you can do vanity projects. Until then do very low budget shorts that you can finance unless you have a very saleable idea.

Do a script breakdown to help in creating a budget. Determine what areas may be difficult or expensive. Can any parts be eliminated? Revise the script as necessary. No matter how big the financing you still need to make every dollar count.

Make your budget. Actually figure out what it is going to cost, even for a low-budget short you are financing yourself. Filmmakers always need to be aware of what it costs to make a film. Create a business plan and get financing if you are wanting to make a feature that is beyond your means to finance.

A most important part of your business plan is your marketing plan. It will do no good to create the world greatest film if no one gets to see it.

Buzz: If you want to someday sell your film you need to get people interested and talking as early as possible.

Director: The film's director is very busy during preproduction with analyzing the screenplay to form the vision and gathering the rest of the creative team. Among the other jobs that need to be done during preproduction are scheduling and locations.

Crew: Gather the crew. Find great people to do the job. Get them enthusiastic and signed on.

Equipment: Camera package, lighting, sound, etc. Craft services, equipment rent or buy, etc.

Casting Actors: You'll need great actors to make a great film. Be sure they are committed to the duration, including any necessary ADR. Here's how to find them.

Rehearsal: Get the actors together and instill in them the vision.

Do the final production board and schedule. Make sure everyone knows what is expected of them.

Happy Filmmaking!

Useful Sites for Filmmakers

Other Sources of Filmmaking Info

MovieMaker magazine covers the entire art and business of independent filmmaking. The web site has many valueable articles and a subscription is a bargain for all you get. offers a filmmakers FAQ, forum, software downloads, used equipment listing, links and store. has articles, forum, software downloads, opinions of film schools from students and links.

Greg Pak, Filmmaker has a few articles and lots of links. offers some news, a forum and links.

Knowledge Hound, Film has links and annoying popups.

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