We're almost there, folks. Almost to the actual filming of your web series, with someone calling 'action!' and 'cut!' and good-looking people bringing your words to life. But we've got one more step: pulling together everything you've done and everything you've gotten during the first six steps of this process and making a plan of action. That's right, it's officially pre-production time.
Technically, most of what we've talked about so far in this column has been pre-production, since pre-production is literally everything that happens before a camera starts rolling. Semantics. Onward!
By this point, you should have your script, your people, and your equipment, so the final piece of the puzzle is determining where in the world you're actually going to film. In order to find these places, you're going to have to location scout, or go to a series of locations, take pictures, and make decisions. Bring at least one other person along on these excursions, and if possible, bring the director, the director of photography, and the sound person, because all of them will provide valuable insight beyond how something looks in frame.
A few things to keep in mind when location scouting:
You've already made breakdowns for your props, characters, and locations, so now it's time to do one last round. This time, you'll be breaking down your script into filmable chunks. I'd suggest starting by breaking the scenes into locations, then breaking those down by which actors need to be there.
I polled Twitter for the average number of script pages different web series creators ended up shooting, per day. The results may surprise you, because they definitely surprised me. In general, on a traditional film shoot, you can expect to shoot 5 pages a day. This accounts for all the lighting changes, filming angles, and takes. However, according to Twitter, the average web series shooting day (at least for low-budget, often vlog or found-footage projects) is closer to twenty. Kate Hackett, creator of the award-winning series Classic Alice, told me she averaged about sixteen pages a day, and RJ Lackie's award-winning show Inhuman Condition averaged closer to forty. Keep these things in mind when you go about planning your own shooting days, and make sure that you leave yourself enough time for actors to mess up, for multiple takes, and for more complex set-ups like stunts, motion shots, or changing locations midway through the day.
Then, once these are done, make shooting scripts or scripts broken up by shooting day. That way, actors can focus on memorizing those particular lines, and your crew gets a better idea what they need to be prepared for, instead of needing to jump around the full season script.
It's time for the absolute worst part of any film project! Some have compared scheduling cast and crew for low-budget film shoots to herding cats, but I bet those cats don't all work retail with alternating shift schedules and no flexibility. Some suggestions:
Purchase, steal, or borrow the rest of what you need for props, wardrobe, and equipment. Remember to write down everything you spend, whether it's food for a production meeting or a set of fake throwing knives. Knowing what you're spending the most money on will help make smarter financial decisions in this production and all future ones. Pro tip: most of your money will go towards food.
My friends, with all this complete, you are now ready to go into production! The most exciting and terrifying part of any film project. Next week, we'll go over the basics of production, how to prepare and run your set, and the week after that, we'll go through the most common production disasters and how to solve them.
This article was originally published on TVWriter.Net, Larry Brody's guide to writing for the medium everyone loves to hate.
Bri Castellini is an award-winning filmmaker and the Community Liaison at Stareable, a hub for web series. Looking for your next favorite show? Head to Stareable.com to browse and read reviews of thousands of web series, all in one place.
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