Video Production – Planning and Logistics
In this post and next, we’re looking at the planning and logistics process that goes into making a film or video. Primarily we’ll be looking at what a video production agency will be doing during this phase, but also, we’ll have a look at how a client can best support the agency, and in doing so, get the most from their commission.
The agency project manager (or producer/production coordinator, depending on their title) who looks after this process will have a number of areas they will need to organise, and it’ll be firmly leaning towards the logistical side of things. They’ll work alongside the creative team or Director, but won’t be looking to influence that too much (although they might have some input around the feasibility of a filming scenario and how the allocated budget is spent). Primarily they are there to make sure everything is in place and ready for the shoot.
Every video production agency has their own way of going about things, but we’ve identified a rough order of how we like to organize things, here at Slate and Mortar towers.
Every film needs a location; whether that’s on-site, out in a field or in a studio space, they all require a fair amount of planning and sorting to get confirmed. The agency might like to do a ‘recce’ where they visit the area in advance to see what the filming conditions are like. A location will also need filming dates confirmed and, in some cases, (particularly busy urban areas or for any aerial photography) permits will need to be sourced. The location also needs to be fully accessible for the crew and their filming equipment, with thought given to transport routes and suitability of nearby accommodation.
A film crew will need to be sourced, such as camera operators, lighting technicians, sound recordists and maybe even specialist roles such as jib operators, drone pilots and Steadicam operators. It’s also important to know that crew rates are different depending on where the content will be played out (so TV adverts are costed at a higher rate than digital/online). Other criteria when sourcing crew includes what the budget allocation will allow (so whether there are camera assistants on the shoot), locality to the filming location and of course, availability.
Once a crew is sorted, they’ll identify the equipment they want to use and, in some cases, that’ll mean rentals. This’ll mean that it needs to be sourced from a hire company and delivered to the location of the shoot in advance of the filming day, so a good courier company is good to know!
The video production agency will work closely with the client to identify and source the talent and/or contributors. If it’s a fictional approach this will likely mean actors, so casting agencies will need to be contacted, character profiles provided, and much like the crew, availability and fee’s sorted in advance.
If it’s talking heads, again the agency will work with the client to identify and approach the right people, check availability and ideally, arrange some pre-interviews so that the material on the day isn’t new, which can greatly improve filming efficiency on the day.
For filming days, the producer will put together a ‘call-sheet’ which is provided to all cast, crew and on-site clients. The call sheet is the primary shooting document for the day and will contain all relevant information, such as all contact details, maps, shot lists and most importantly the filming schedule. This will detail everything that’s going on in the production, right down to the smallest detail. It’ll include times people arrive on set, where they should be at what time, who is involved in each particular filming scenario, what props or kit is needed, and of course, times lunch.
The detail involved in these means that they remain fairly fluid and can be prone to a sudden change, but every producer worth their salt will try and get a schedule locked in as early as possible.
So as you can see, planning a film shoot is a fairly complex process, but if all of the procedure and process are in place, then it doesn’t necessarily have to be stressful. However, sometimes there are unforeseen variables added into the mix, such as deadlines being altered or creative decisions changing, and this creates potential for the process to become a little more difficult, with implications on budget and deliverables.
In next week’s article we’ll look at how a client can avoid this, and how a client can support their video production agency during this process, ensuring that they get the best possible value for their money.
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