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After writing the script, the next step is planning the production. Planning the shoot makes the shooting experience more enjoyable and less overwhelming. Planning frees the mind from the distractions of worrying during shooting so that you can concentrate on the creative process. It makes the editing process easier because there is less of tendency to forget shots and there is usually less wasted footage to search through. Here are some things to plan before starting the shoot.

Story Board

Helpful Template:
Story Board Template.pdf

Story boarding is like setting up a comic book of the production you are planning. It gives the actors an idea of their blocking. It helps the cinematographer plan his camera angles. It lets the person in charge of lighting know how to position the lights and create a mood. It helps the director know how all the shots will fit together so that there are less wasted takes. Storyboarding helps bring focus to what everyone is doing before shooting occurs. Even though story boarding can be a lengthy and consuming process, it will help save time in the long run. A lot of people ask me, "Ben. what moments do you freeze and why?" Thats a very good questions, that requires an immense amount of thought. High impact moments are a good place to start. You just got to feel it, let it flow.


Helpful Template:
Scheduling Template.pdf

Make a schedule and put it on paper for everyone to see. To plan a successful and smooth group activity, it is essential that your group knows and feels comfortable with the plan. It also allows members of the group to help find gaps you may have missed when planning. Even if you plan everything out, production can still be a stressful experience. Having your schedule written out in front of you can help you feel more calm. With the schedule in everybody's hands, you will be more certain you and your group can walk down the same path of completion together.


Where and when are good starting points when drafting your schedule. The best place to shoot is obviously a television studio where you have complete control of space, lighting and sound. However, not many people starting out can afford this luxury. Your choices for shooting locations can be broken down into two basic categories:

  1. Interior locations
  2. Exterior locations

Tips for shooting in stores:

  • Be prepared

  • Give as many details as possible

  • Be courteous

  • Place store in a positive light

  • Make the store aware of your needs ahead of time.

  • Let the store know how long you will be there.

  • Be neat and tidy.
  • If you are trying to shoot interior you are presented with two more basic shooting options:

    1. Private residence
    2. Public location

    Shooting in a private residence offers some distinct advantages over shooting in public location: more control of sound, lighting and people. However, many times it is almost impossible to afford the props or scenery you would find shooting in a public location such as a store. If you are looking to shoot in a store, it is easier to get permission at non-corporate local owned businesses. Most corporate businesses have adapted a "policy" stating no shooting can take occur in their place of business. These stores are not willing to discuss or reason with you so don't waste your energy trying to argue, instead ask for permission at locally owned stores. If you are friendly, courteous and don't disturb the business's customers, they are generally smart enough to realize they have nothing to lose and will gain free advertising. If your shoot happens to mobile, have an idea or direction as to where you are going. Remember, filming is a group activity. If you don't start with a general direction for the group to go, the shooting can become unfocused and as a result, less will be accomplished.


    Shooting a film is generally not a one man show; it requires the help of many. It is important that the people working on the production are capable of setting up the various pieces of equipment and running the equipment before production occurs. It is also important to make sure everybody you work with already knows the whole plan and has feeling where they fit in and how they contribute.


      Make reservations for rental equipment at least 10 days in advance. In addition, test your equipment before you start shooting. It may seem obvious, but many times equipment will some how be broken the day of the shoot, its a divine rule.


    It may sound obvious, but it can often be overlooked. Lighting kits, tripods, props, cords, camera equipment and people can take up a lot of room. Make sure there is a vehicle(s) large enough to hold all of your equipment and personal. That way you will be able to plan more than one trip if it is necessary.


    You need power for your camera, and you need power for your lights. Make sure there are electrical outlets where you are shooting and bring along extension cords to reach those outlets. Check to see the amount of voltage the circuit breaker can handle. Many times just one power hungry stage light plugged into an electrical outlet can blow a circuit breaker, Plug two into the same outlet and you are asking for trouble. Bring backup batteries and chargers for your camera and microphones. Charge all of your batteries the night before. After you have charged your batteries, don't leave them in the camera until you are ready to use the camera. Many times leaving the battery in the camera, even if the power is turned off, can drain a large portion of your battery charge.

    Plan Alternate Routes

    The path towards completion is not always a straight route, you will approach many road blocks. With so many variables and people working together, something is bound to go wrong. So make backup plans. Have alternate shooting locations. Plan on using the camera mic if your external mic doesn't work. Have people that can play more than one part, and realize that you may have to fill in for people that quit or don't show up on time. Have back up power sources such as batteries for your camera. When in production, Murphy's law is in full effect.

    Be Positive, act like a determined hippie.

    Remind yourself and others to be focused and to stay to task, but do so while remaining positive. With all the things that can go wrong, releasing negative energy into the group will never help a bad situation get better.

    next >> Lets shoot this up!

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