Pre-production, also known as the planning stage is the point at which you think of the story you would like to tell, and how you imagine you can tell that story through the medium of film. Now, you’re welcome to your own opinion, but we think that this is by far the most important part of the process: quite simply, everything hinges on the quality of your idea and its presentation. When you conceive your idea, try to keep it simple: can you pitch it in one sentence? If not, it’s too complicated.
Once you have your idea, break it down and flesh it out with a script and storyboards. It can be surprisingly difficult to stay ‘on message’- in other words, to stay true to your original idea- but this is no bad thing, because all stories evolve. It’s also at this point that you start to think about where you might want to shoot, and who you might want to play each character (although this choice isn’t so hard if you’re at the beginning of your career- you can only really ‘hire’ your friends).
Once you know what you’re going to shoot, you have to shoot it. This is production. As part of what could be called post-pre-production, you have to make sure that your equipment is up to scratch for what you’d like to do: is each shot feasible? Do you need stands, tripods, different kinds of lenses? Consider this before getting started.
Once you’re shooting, remember that it’s better to shoot a little too much rather than a little too little. A good rule of thumb might be that when shooting a small budget film, for every one minute that makes it into your film, three minutes will be left on the cutting room floor. But for now, focus on the following key things: framing, light, focus and sound. If you get these parts right, you can’t go far wrong.
Editing your film is just as important as filming it. This is when you polish what you’ve created, so that it’s coherent in message and tone; this process is what changes a good idea, and perhaps good execution during filming, into a good film. There are different ways to approach editing, but if you’re a beginner, do try to keep it simple.
The first thing to keep in mind is continuity and pacing between shots. This means two things: first that the story is told beat by beat throughout the film, both coherently and consistently, and second that basic details like whether the main character is wearing a hat or holding it in his hands do not change between successive shots. It’s also possible to an extent to edit colour, lighting and sound in post-production, although no amount of editing can fix bad filming. That being said, follow the basic filmmaking process step by step and your film will become something that’ll tell an audience your story.!