Pre Production

a. The idea

Whether you are making a drama, documentary or animation you must start with a good idea.

Top Tip: To know what the film is about, not just what happens in it, you need to define its theme. Think of a single statement that sums-up the story’s spirit, not its plot. It could be a cautionary message like, don’t judge others before you know the whole story or it could be a statement like love conquers all or taking drugs is wrong.

b. Script

When writing your script you should consider three main points:

1. Structure

Most films are based on a three ‘act’ structure as they have a beginning, middle and an end.

2. Characters

You should think about what kind of people are in your film? What makes them do things?

3. Dialogue

What will your characters say and how will they say it?

Top Tip: Think about the sort of audience you want to be able to show your film to. If you are making a film for younger age groups to view, then remember swearing might not be appropriate.

To find out more tips and hints for writing the perfect script download David Griffith’s First Rights Guidelines and A Crash Course in Screenwriting from the download section to the right of this page.

For more information about structure, style and characters click here for help developing your story.

c. Storyboard

The storyboard is a plan of your film with drawings or photographs which will help you to imagine how your finished film will look.

It may be useful to visit the location where you will shoot your film when you are making your storyboard to get a better idea of how you want your shots to look. A good storyboard will save your group time while filming.

d. Casting

The cast is the group of actors who star in your film. You need to hold auditions, like interviews, to find the best actor to play each character.

Top Tip: Think about how much time your actors will need to give to the film and make sure they are confident they will be able to give you this time.

e. Budgeting

Films cost money to make. So where’s the money coming from and how will it buy everything you need?
It is very important to keep a clear record of how much money you have to start with and where you plan to use it.

Write everything down and keep track of what you’ve spent. Have two columns – one for Budget (how much you have to spend) and then an Actual column (how much you actually did spend).

Top Tip: To save money borrow items where you can, check charity shops for costumes, offer to credit local businesses on your film in return for locations or equipment. But keep some money aside for food and drink – you need everyone to be on top form!

Read more information about budgets from The BBC Film Network.

f. Scheduling

Get organised! A schedule is a plan of what will take place at each stage of your production.

When scheduling always remember that things might not go according to plan. There could be bad weather, poor available light or people could turn up late. So build extra time into your shooting plans for this.

Top Tip: Before every day of the shoot, create a call sheet – this tells the cast and crew exactly what is going to be shot the next day. It should also have everyone’s contact details on, and a designated production mobile number.

Evaluation – we want to know!

Don’t forget we want to know how you got on with your filming. Why not download Mediabox’s Evaluation Toolkit on the right hand side of this page to see how you can effectively evaluate your project and feedback what it was like to make a film!

Next Step: Production