We should start with what we mean by pre-production. Dictionary.com says pre-production is “the steps necessary to prepare a film for production, as casting, choosing locations, and designing setsand costumes.”
I would add that is it also the discovery, research, collaborating, and ‘syncing’ process even before that.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of this type of pre-production. Yet we would like to emphasize a few reasons for its value.
When beginning work with anyone, we should always assume a ‘getting to know each other’ phase. In companies, there is often an on-boarding process for new team members. And I’d suggest there be one on at least some level with contractors as well. After all, the idea usually is we are on the same team.
And when a project is on the table, bringing everyone involved up to speed on lists like the following is crucial:
If expectations, roles, storyboards, timelines, etc are all in place before the crew and cameras start filming, life is good!
Filming usually takes less time when everyone knows what is the aim and can define whether or not it was captured. Rethinking a shot or sequence will most likely happen on some level (that’s life) but re-visiting things too much can drag things down. It gets expensive in both money (contractors, rent, etc) AND in the creative energies of those involved. And everyone will wonder why the planning and rethinking didn’t happen before!
Alternately, plan! It’s even more fun in the end.
This of course needs a qualifier as things can change even after a shoot. (Ex. a new CEO steps in, an opportunity for advertising somewhere with a different format requirement just to name a few)
But based on our experience with large and small companies, the editing and finishing process is cut down dramatically by good pre-production. There will be less revisions as editors are not taking a ‘stab in the dark’ and hoping the end-client likes it. You get to the gold quicker in other words.
And for finishers, audio engineers, color graders, etc. they understand the vibe and feel from the ‘go’. It’s a powerful well tuned process.
When the shots are organized, the cast is spot on, the marketing team and film team are on the same page, then the director and crew can really focus on getting the best takes. And confidence will come through in the end product.
As opposed to hoping you get something you will be proud of, the pre-production and vision turn into reality!