The Easy Part of film making is pushing the record button

Yes, You read that correctly. The easy part of film making is pushing the record button on the camera!

I know being a Cinematographer all of the technical training, years of work, equipment testing etc that it takes to make great images. I’m also a super big techno camera/editing/lighting geek! However, it doesn’t matter what camera you have, how many K’s you have, the most trick lens, best gaffer in the world, if what you put in front of your lens is junk well your camera will just capture, . . junk. Preproduction! Big word with big meaning to any film, video of still production. You can have the best script on the planet but if the details of telling that story on film are haphazardly attended to you will have a haphazard film.

“if what you put in front of your lens is junk well your camera will just capture, . . junk”

I enjoy shooting teasers and proof of concept short films for up and coming directors. The most common issue I run into working with new directors or writers with limited film making experience is the lack of proper production planning.

Everything starts with the script! The production schedule, shot list, props, location, actors etc, all come from breaking down the script.

In film and TV, a script breakdown is an analysis of a screenplay in which all of the production elements are reduced to lists. Within these lists, are in essence the foundation of creating a production board, which is fundamental in creating a production schedual and production budget of the entire production with any film or television program in pre production. This process is a very tedious and complex task, and is usually the responsibility of the assistant director or first or 1AD within the production staff.

For me as a Director of Photography on any project it’s not enough to just give me a script for a few reasons. A script will not tell me the scene blocking/action and the camera angle or moves the director has in mind. While I have done projects where the director hired me because of my style and allowed me to choose all of the camera related moves, angles lenses that is often not the case. The best situation is a collaboration between the DP and Director. This means as the DP I need to understand the directors vision as much as possible. The details that often come from a script breakdown help with that communication along with look books and story boards.

The bigger picture is when it’s time for principle photography. The last thing any film crew wants is a poorly organized production with a bunch of wasted time. Planning the shoot down to the finest detail will make the shoot days go smoother and often faster ( saving in the budget ) Nothing makes a film look better as now every detail placed in-front of the lens has been planned and properly executed. As a DP with a well produced production it will often afford me more time and/or freedom to make lighting or grip/camera is perfect.

There’s just no substitute from proper planning, especially with it comes to making movies!

Here’s some links that I hope will help.

No film school link