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Pre-Production Overview

film pre production

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Pre-production is the process of planning and organizing a film before shooting begins. This phase is critical to the success of a film, and it involves many different aspects of filmmaking.

Pre-Production as Mise en Place

chef arranging mise en place

Mise en place is a French cooking term that roughly translates to “everything in its place.” The idea is that a cook should have all of their ingredients prepped and organized before they start cooking. This includes measuring out ingredients, chopping vegetables, and so on. Having everything ready to go before you start cooking can save time and reduce stress in the kitchen.

In addition, mise en place can help to prevent mistakes, such as forgetting to add an ingredient or overcooking a dish. While it may take a little extra time to get everything ready beforehand, the benefits of mise en place are clear.

Pre-production serves the exact same role in the filmmaking process. By taking the time to prepare all aspects of a film’s production, the filmmakers can better execute their vision. Likewise, if they have planned properly in pre-production, they will have everything they need ready and at hand when entering production and post-production.

The Pre-Production Process

There are many different steps involved in pre-production, and we will dive into each of those in the following sections, but for now, we’ll take an overview of what goes into pre-production.

The following are in no particular order; more often than not, they will be conducted either simultaneously or with overlapping timelines.

Shooting Schedule

The first step is to develop a shooting schedule. This includes figuring out the order of scenes, estimating how long each scene will take to shoot, and scheduling time for breaks. The shooting schedule should be as detailed as possible so that everyone involved in the production knows what needs to be done and when.


This is a process of creating visual representations of the film’s scenes. Storyboards can be very helpful in planning out a film’s shot list and making sure that all the necessary shots are captured.

Final Budget

In Development, an initial budget was created in order to secure financing. This final budget will be much more specific and will include all the costs associated with making the film. This is an important step in pre-production as it ensures that there is enough money to cover all the necessary expenses and that there are no surprises during production.


Casting involves finding actors who are right for the roles, holding auditions, and making final decisions about who will be in the film. The casting process can take weeks or even months, depending on the size and scope of the project.

Hiring Crew

In addition to casting, it’s also necessary to hire a crew. This includes finding the heads of each department and then working with them to fill out the rest of their respective teams.

Location Scouting

Location scouting is the process of finding places that are suitable for the film and making sure that they are available to use. Location scouting can be time-consuming, but finding the right locations for a film are important.

Set Design & Construction

If a film is being shot on location, then set design may be minimal or not even necessary. However, if the film is being shot in a studio, then set design becomes a critical part of pre-production. Set designers are responsible for creating the film’s sets and making sure that they are safe and functional.


The next step is to rent or purchase the necessary equipment. This includes cameras, lenses, lights, and so on. It’s important to get the right equipment for the job so that the film can be shot properly.


Once the equipment has been rented or purchased, it’s important to get insurance. This will protect the equipment in case of any accidents or damage.


Depending on where the film is being shot, it may be necessary to get permits. This can include filming permits, location permits, and so on. It’s important to check with the local authorities to see what permits are needed.


Before production begins, it’s important to test all of the equipment and verify proposed workflows and techniques. This includes setting up the cameras, lights, and so on. Testing is important to make sure that everything is working properly and that the final captured image and sound, and their proposed workflows produce the desired results.

Props and Costumes

Another important aspect of pre-production is acquiring props and costumes. This includes everything from furniture to clothing to weapons. It’s important to make sure that all of the necessary props and costumes are acquired before shooting begins.

Wrapping Up

These are just a few of the many steps involved in pre-production. By taking the time to plan and prepare properly, you can ensure that production goes smoothly and that the film turns out the way you want it to.

Up next, we’ll take a deeper look at the art of storyboarding.

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