Budgets & Strategy: Part II

So the pitfalls of pre-production all come down to planning.  It's not enough just to "know" what you need.  You need to write it down, figure out how you are going to acquire it, and have an alternate plan in place incase it's not going to work out.  

There is plenty of production software out there.  I've discovered one called Celtx, which is perfect because not only is it FREE (and just because something is free doesn't mean it has value), it is actually really good.  I like to think of Celtx as scriptwriting software on steroids.  Without going too much into the features (you can go to their site to do that yourself),  it is able to categorize items and give detailed information on props, actors, characters, sets, vehicles, livestock, etc.  It also allows you to create backgrounds for your characters, and lets you define why your scenes are important.  

The key feature of this is you can use it on the internet, and create a group that can access all the files off of the Celtx servers.  You can make it public or private.  This is essential to keep everyone in the loop.  

If you're more web-savvy, you may consider setting up a forum can only be accessed with a password.  Aaron Martin did this with Archangel Alpha, and it grew quite a bit with everyone pitching in ideas and posting their progress.  We would post links of relevant information or similar works.  He would also make the script updates available to everyone and I would post pictures of concept art as I was able to do them.  We would post our concerns or bring up potential problems as pre-production went on and Aaron would address or solve them.

One thing I've learned from a video game development project I helped out on back in 2003 was the scheduled calendar and milestones.  The group director will set up what they want to accomplish and by what date.  This is a milestone.  They would assign the best talent to accomplish the milestone, and it became very apparent who the responsibility went to.  Granted, filmmaking is a little bit more organic, but the idea of having things in place by a certain time can really help you out.  See what people can bring to the table for  you.  They might offer alternatives to something you can't quite acquire that's in your script.

How I do this is after I have a finished script, I go through and break it down.  I see what's most doable first, and set up my shooting schedule around what I can get together the easiest.  I than set up milestones in order to get set up for those days.  If a milestone can't be reached before the shoot date, I need an alternate shoot on that day and arrange for it.  Worst case scenario, I'll plan on what cut-aways can be shot with available actors- or if the location becomes unavailable (for whatever reason) have a back up plan to shoot another scene- and give some slack for rehearsal time.

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