You've got a movie to make, congratulations dear aspiring artist! In the following lines we would like to help you with the journey of movie making by giving you a few tips about the joyful and most vital process called pre-production. But just what is this pre-production concept? you might ask. We call pre-production to all the job you never thought you needed to do before you sit in your canvas chair guiding your actors through the dream flick that will revolutionize the motion picture industry. Yes, all the hard work, research and labour that can and will discourage many want-to-be film directors and that you get to enjoy with our professional guidance. Amazing!
Before we set out in this amazing journey to greatness and glory we need to make sure of a couple of things. First, you need to write or obtain a screenplay. Second, you will need money. In particular, the bottom line that separates a really tight budget from a naive hope for a miracle is about $15,000. Assuming that you have both the script and the money, let's get right down to business.
The spirit of the pre-production is the following: get everything you can ready now, before you start rolling film. That means you need to polish your script, find actors and put together a technical crew that can work all the machines, like cameras, tape recorders and lights.
The Big List:
- Use points and screen credit if possible
- Get a Director of Photography
- Purchase film at a discount
Find actors, props, and costumes
Use "points" and screen credit if possible
People are vane. You are certainly not the only one that wants to see his own name in the blinking lights of a theatre or the rolling screen of the credits. Offering the opportunity to work on a real film is often enough bait to bring people on board. Make this question your mantra for the months to come: Who can I get to do this job for free?
And if you can't get them to work for free, you can resort to offering them points. Points are basically a percentage of the film's profits. That means two things: a) you only have 100 of them (in case math is not your thing) b) you need to be extra careful when handling these, make sure you keep enough to yourself.
Get a Director of Photography
This is a person with technical knowledge about the workings of the film equipment, whether that is how the camera works, what film to use or how the lighting affects a scene. This is, most likely, not your description so make sure to get someone that can do the job and can handle all the pretty pictures while you take care of the overall story and the acting.
Purchase film at a discount
Deciding what kind of film is complicated, that is why you will consult with your Director of Photography so you avoid potential errors. Also, you'll find that film is rather expensive. For a standard 90 minutes film, the cost 'could go up to $27,000 on film alone. However you have one ace under your sleeve: you're the underdog, the aspiring artist. Companies like Kodak and Fuji have been known to give discounts to both students and low-budget productions. In doing so they make sure that if you do succeed and are the hottest new thing, you'll still be using their products later.
Find actors, props, and costumes
Start with your friends, you can surely find someone with relatively good acting skills. Also, they are the easiest to persuade to act for free in your production. The cheap way to get your hands on props and costumes is to borrow from friends and family. Of course, if you're looking for a particular fancy dress you can go to specialized companies that can help you. It pays up to have your heroine dress in the best clothes for the job, but remember you have a budget and you need to stick to it. The trick is to find that elusive medium that allows you to walk the fine red budget line. If you are so cheap that you are buying all your wardrobe at a party supplies store, you know you have gone overboard. There should be plenty of ways to acquire affordable props and clothing without too much sacrifice to the quality of the materials.