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Filmmaking Phases: Ideation and Pre-Production

Filmmaking is a science and an art, requiring equal parts technical know-how and creativity at various times during the five phases of filmmaking: ideation; pre-production; production; post-production; and distribution.

In keeping with the philosophy of this blog, we’re going to focus on the first two phases and drill down into what defines them as unique steps within the filmmaking process.

Phase One: Idea Generation and Development

Inspired ideas don’t come to everyone easily and not every idea will be worth investing time into, which is why ideation is so important. The point of this phase is to explore the potential of your ideas and find those that excite you most.

Ask yourself on what topics you can lend a unique perspective to. What issues or notions would you like your audience to think about? What experiences can you share using an interesting or unorthodox approach?

Generating ideas and developing concepts should be a free-flow process where anything goes. Don’t limit yourself and forget about formatting.

Focus on building a believable world by developing a strong central theme and refining plot structure. Your ultimate goal here is to get a sense of what you want to say, and how you will say it.

Another thing you’ll want to do plenty of is research. If your ideas are taking you to a different part of the world you’re not familiar with, make the added effort to understand that locale’s socio-economic and political climate.

When you’re ready to commit your ideas to the page and start your script, give some thought to the characters, dialogue, sights and sounds.

Your scene descriptions should contain enough information to situate the reader, but not so much that they do the work of the director and other professionals.

Once you have your finished script, you can move onto the pre-production phase and future-proof your film project so that it makes it to and through production.

Phase Two: Pre-Viz and Logistics Planning

The importance of this particular phase cannot be overstated. As you devise your plan of attack with regards to the logistical and creative aspects of production, be sure to make provisions for any unfavourable scenarios that may crop up.

First up is casting. Remember that the actors you choose to embody your characters will be critical to the success of your film project. Schedule one round of auditions and as many call backs as you feel you need before proceeding and engaging in script reads.

Next, you’ll want to develop a shooting schedule. Approximate the number of days you think you will need to get the film in the can — including additional days for recording ambient sound — and do this in as cost-effective way as possible.

Other things to take into account during this phase include location scouting, designing and dressing sets, developing a shooting script and commissioning storyboards.

While your budget will determine what you will be able to do to a large degree, any time and money spent here will almost always be time and money well spent. Just keep track of your budget and you’ll be fine.

And that’s pretty much it. Good luck!

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