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Are Floor Plans Worth it for Your Film?

If there’s any pre-production document that’s seen less use in recent years, it has to be the humble floor plan — that top-down blueprint of a filming location.

Traditionally, these were essential for directors to appropriately plan how they were going to capture sets rigged with practical effects when they only had one take to get it right.

What’s interesting about this is that there is a clearly established relationship between architecture and action, and the successful directors were those who utilised a variety of visual materials to explore their shot sequences.

So why are floor plans getting left off the pre-production checklists of so many independent filmmakers? And perhaps even more importantly, should they be?

Reasons Floor Plans Might be Overlooked

In trying to identify the possible reasons for why floor plans — as opposed to storyboards — are continually overlooked in today’s filmmaking environment, we have to look at what’s changed.

The independent filmmaker’s ideology has moved away from sourcing funds via personal savings, equity offerings, pre-sales agreements, gap funding and deferred financing agreements and towards the crowdfunding model.

And while it might not seem like this has anything to do with the fall of floor plans, the viability of crowdfunding has forever altered people’s approach to making and releasing films — which has a lot to do with the law of supply and demand.

If the average Indiegogo contributor or supporter on Patreon isn’t upset about the fact that floor plans are not making the rounds as part of any behind-the-scenes offerings, why should filmmakers bother with them?

This is, I think, the crux of issue at hand, and its fine.

As much as I love drafting pre-production documents, I don’t see the value in creating floor plans for those films that are dealing with micro-budgets and sometimes no budget at all.

Other Practical Considerations

Many, if not all of the filmmakers I know are visual thinkers in the best sense of the word. (Though a lot of them are also screenwriters now that I think about it.)

This combination of Writer and Director seems quite prevalent in the independent filmmaking community and as such, it should come as no surprise that some are comfortable going off script in pursuit of the perfect shot.

So here, where shooting scripts are a little more flexible, floor plans tends to fall by the wayside.

Is There Still a Case to Make for Floor Plans?

It really depends. Most filmmakers will be working with a single camera due to how expensive they are to buy and hire. Adding additional cameras would do two things: ramp up the cost of production and increase the margin for error exponentially.

Whether you think your film could benefit from floor plans is completely up to you. They’re not strictly necessary and if you’re still on the fence, just ask yourself if your time and resources may be better spent elsewhere.

Only when a director is working with a DOP and multiple cinematographers could I see an argument in favour of drafting up floor plans. But if this were the case, those floor plans would only make up a handful of the pre-production documents you’d need.

Managing Your Film Project’s Pre-Production

If you’re still in the early stages of planning and need help with any aspect of pre-production, feel free to contact us and make an enquiry!

Also note that for Perth, WA-based films, documentaries and commercials, we are able to extend our services to include Production Coordination as well.

Now get out there and do some location scouting! And if nothing else, take some good reference photos.

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