I am a firm believer that to produce a well made product, a lot of research and planning occurs behind the scenes. This is no exception when it comes to making a quality video. A significant amount of time should be spent on pre-production and should be allocated within the overall budget. The areas of I will cover include making the contact/ meeting, scouting location, storyboarding/ writing.
Making the contact with the client sets the tone for the entire shoot. This is where a groundwork of the project is laid out between the client and the studio. It is always important to start off on the right foot with the client by being professional and courteous. When meeting with clients, I begin to ask what the vision for the story should be? What is the product? What is the message they want to send, do they have an idea how they want it to look? Questions similar to these will help in the brainstorming process. More information is always a good thing, even if there is too much. Rule of thumb: It's better to make sense of things by removing all the clutter, than to make something you don't have any reference to go off of. Once I feel like I have enough information to have a starting point then I start to work on finding locations.
During the meeting, I discuss about the theme of the video and the look of it. Do they want it to be a corporate style shoot, a lifestyle shoot, or a mixture of both? The subject matter will tend to dictate what type of shoot it will be. Once I have determined the type of shoot it is going to be, I start thinking of possible locations to shoot. Corporate shoots tend to be more set in an office setting, while lifestyle shoots typically are set at multiple locations. Once I have an idea of possible locations, I begin to reach out to different places and to discuss about the proposed shoot. This can get a little tricky because depending on locations, permits are needed, some owners do not want to use their place of business, legalities such as waiver forms, insurance etc. All these things need to be considered when finding a location. It is always good to have different options and backup plans. Once a location or multiple locations are locked down, the next thing I like to do is go to the physical sight. This part is important because it allows me to get a layout of the building, anticipate any problems during the shoot, what equipment is needed for this particular location, and get a sense of how the overall shoot will look and feel. After seeing the location then it is time to start the writing/ planning process.
This part of the pre-production process is where the concepts and ideas are put on a paper, either as a script or a storyboard. The client may have a script drafted already so that always helps. The script takes care of the narration part, where as the storyboarding visualizes each shot selection for the video. Essentially, a storyboard is a sequence of drawings, with some directions and dialogue, representing the shots planned for the production. With the storyboard and/or script in hand, I go over it with the client to meet approval or make any necessary changes. Once everything is approved, then we can finally take the concept and execute them with the actual production.
The pre-production process might not be as glamorous when it compares to the production and post-production aspects of creating a video, but nonetheless, being well prepared going into a shoot will make everything else go a lot smoother.