Our Pre-Production Template at Waves Media

May 1, 2019

What are the steps in working a video project with our clients, cast, crew, and audience? Today we are submitting part of the process which we use, though we alter it and have variations from time to time.

Using 3 main headings we break up each step under one of the following:

  1. Pre
  2. Production
  3. Post

Today, we will explore the ‘pre-production’ phase.


Initial call/contact

This could be in person or on the phone. The goal is to get a basic understanding of the project, the scope (timeline, extent of work) and the budget perhaps. An aim here should be to have enough of an understanding to:

  1. know if this project is a fit for partnership and whether it should progress at all from this phase
  2. start putting together what it will take to do the project (both money-wise, and practically). 

Proposal and/or Treatment

There may be multiple meetings or phone calls along the way but before you put too much actual work into the project some numbers should be agreed upon. This should include expectations and details of what each party will take responsibility for and what will be involved. And very important: what the agreed upon goal(s) are for the project!

Storyboard and Concepts (Often Continuation of the ‘Treatment’ Phase)

This could be basic document write-ups or more elaborate sketches. We love this simple app we’ve used before should you want to check them out.

Showing the client that we ‘get’ the message and agree upon a concept and storyboard. Last project we did we submitted 6 concepts of which 2 were accepted for example. Variety is good here. Throw in the “crazy” idea or two as well – you just never know!


After concepts and storyboards and scripts are agreed upon or underway enough to move on: casting. The cast may be team members or clients of the company itself. If professional acting is required: our team sends out emails to actors/actresses or agencies we know with details and requirements. Then virtual auditions are submitted and reviewed. This often is just iPhone recordings shared via dropbox or other file share service.

Location Scouting

You may know or have a location for the shoot already. If we need a residential setting we love using Airbnb.com

The pictures are a big help too on AirBNB (and they save on traveling around checking out spots!) Just be up front with homeowners on the usage and make sure they are good with it.

Other location scouting ideas: 

  • Actual video studios able to handle the live set or even a simple green/white/color backdrop
  • Companies with premises that would fit. Offer them a promo video of their space in return for allowing you to use the facilities.

Shot Lists and Production Planning

Schedule out the shoot and what shots you hope to get. Generally keeping shot gathering general can be helpful. But if you do this (heh, even if you don’t) make sure you have cushion/padding built in. And of course build in breaks, meals (cast and crew will want these!), and review times. 

Rest and Review

It’s crucial to have review time built in before you get to the film day. This could be simply a touch base phone call or a sit down with your crew to go over the flow of the shoot and work through any kinks ahead of time.

And then finally pre-shoot: get a good night’s sleep because the project has only just begun!

More on the following phases of a project later – stay tuned.

Waves Media, a Boston based video production company