Production Prep (BTH)

Before the prep day:

No later than noon on the day before the prep, the Producer is responsible for sending a clean copy of the script (with scene numbers) in PDF format to each member of the faculty thesis committee.

On the prep day:

In order to go as paperless as possible, everything except the screenplay will be presented digitally on the classroom monitor. Be sure to download any materials to the desktop computer for presentation.

Hard copies of the screenplay — with title page, scene numbers and lined script — will be handed out at the beginning of prep to each member of the faculty thesis committee.

If there are any VFX shots or if a camera other than the primary assigned thesis camera is planned to be employed in the production then the hard copy signed VFX approval forms must be shown to the Thesis supervisor.

The presentation will include:

  1. The Producer’s visual presentation file
  2. The Director’s visual presentation file
  3. The Director of Photography’s visual presentation file
  4. The Production Designers’ visual presentation file
  5. The screenplay with scene numbers and the beat-by-beat breakdown
  6. The UPM breakdown script
  7. The production board (header board and a strip for each scene in shooting order)
  8. The shooting schedule

In addition to the above requirements the Cinematography, Editing and Production Design faculty may require additional items in either electronic or hard copy form. Please see those faculty members for additional requirements.

Be sure that all above requirements are ready and provided to the appropriate faculty members at the time the prep is scheduled to begin.

Director’s Prep will occur in four separate sections and in the following order:

  1. Presentation of the movie.
  2. Faculty Q&A.
  3. Presentation and discussion of storyboards.
  4. Creation of an action plan.

The producer, director, production designer, cinematographer and 1st A.D. must attend the prep. (The production team may determine that the attendance of other crewmembers is necessary, and may invite them to prep as needed.)

Section I — Presentation of the Movie

The purpose of this section is to give the thesis film’s producer, director, production designer and cinematographer an opportunity to present the film to the faculty – uninterrupted. We will start the prep with the director addressing any notes addressed or not addressed after concept prep. After that, both cinematographer and production designer will do their presentations.

Let images speak for themselves in both cases.

Address the Cassavetes experience, and also if any information regarding the crew drills exercises: please share with us any findings, what you learned.

Producer will do the final presentation, showing the temp strip board and a brief resume of it.

Students will make presentations to the faculty in the following order:

1. The Producer will introduce the title of the film, and the crew positions held by every student in Director’s Prep. This should be done quickly, and without formality; it’s intended to give the faculty an orientation to who is doing what.

2. The Director will present a outcomes of concept prep, and what has changed/has been achieved. Then a quick visual pitch of the story to the faculty. The Pitch should be in story order and be supported by visual slide, which illustrate the essence of the directors vision for each moment of the pitch. The director will also present their casting choices, with audition videos ideally, exercise and only as last resource with stills.

Remember that these are images that you have found and or created for visually illustrating your pitch of the story. The images are meant be representational of “key story beats” to illustrate and evoke the feeling of the moment in your story.

The most important thing is that you TELL the story as a storytelling, using the images as background support for your PITCH.

3. The Production Designer will continue to present a brief visual illustration of the major design aspects as it relates to the world and characters of the film.

The presentation will begin with the world in which the story takes place. The presentation should include:

  • Photos representing the locale of the story.
  • Photos of every actual location the action will occur.
  • Photos of any key elements (such as picture vehicles).

After locations, the Production Designer will present photos and/or actual examples of key props/set dressings and the wardrobe for the main characters, with a focus on how the wardrobe helps illustrate the history, emotional construction and objectives of each main character. The presentation should include:

  • Photos or illustrations of the characters wardrobe/hair/makeup.
  • Any particularly relevant props and/or set dressing.

The Production Designer’s presentation should emphasize how the design of the world will illustrate – or serve – the overall expression of the story and its main characters (who they are and what they want).

4. The Cinematographer will present a three-to-four minute illustration of the “Cinematographic Plan” of the film. To show found and/or created photos and videos (including the Cassavetes workshop scene), the Cinematographer will demonstrate how color, light, shadow and visual language will illustrate the story. The presentation should include:

  • Visual References: Present an illustration of the visual plan for the film. You may also include movie clips (website link), paintings, stills, artwork, AC articles, anything that visually echoes the story’s look/visual mood. These references should reflect lighting ideas, contrast ratios, color, camera movement and shot design.
  • Mood: In writing, identify the emotional intent of the film and be prepared to explain the visual elements you plan on incorporating in your cinematography that support the emotional intent of the director. Describe any changes in mood and how you plan to support, enhance, underscore visually.
  • Format: Please describe your format choice/s. Please delineate your reasons behind each format choice. This applies to both framing formats (16×9(spherical), 2.4:1(widescreen) and digital capture formats (4k, 2k, DSLR, RED Lake, Etc.). Note any camera systems utilized other than RED should be a colored storyboard to indicate VFX and be prepared to discuss the story-based reasonings of this additional camera system.
  • Color Temperature Plan: Describe all the different lighting environments and the scene(s) that are set within that environment. For each of these major environments, write a brief description of how you plan to balance the scene/sequence’s color temperature.
  • Exposure/Filtration Plan: Outline a general exposure plan for each major lighting environment within you story. Note proposed shooting stops, expected footcandle readings at middle grey, expected ISO setting and contrast ratios you are aiming for associated with each environment. Also indicate any filtration you intend to use and the reasons why.
  • Specific Production Challenges: Describe any major lighting, rigging, power, location and/or camera challenges that need larger development and be prepared to explain how you propose to overcome these challenges.

5. The Producer will return with a three-minute presentation going through the Production board scene by scene in shooting order with the planned CALL and WRAP times for each shooting day including the plan for the use of any overtime.

As the producer goes through each day they should discuss all pre- production accomplishments and challenges related to each scene, with a plan for how the team will meet each challenge.

The Producer should focus on all concerns that any objective person would have about the production (e.g., a difficult location, an exotic animal, a dangerous activity, etc.). The goal is to anticipate the faculty’s concerns and address them before the Q&A begins.

Section II – Faculty Q&A

Faculty will ask students questions related to the presentation of the film in Section I. Students must be prepared to address in detail every story, script and production concern the faculty may have. The First Assistant Director will take notes during this section, making certain to document every faculty concern and related resolutions. It is important that the 1st A.D. has a complete understanding of any and all topics of discussion (the production team will rely on the 1st AD’s notes to address concerns after Director’s Prep). So the 1st AD should be prepared to stop the Q&A at any time for clarification.

This section will take as long as necessary for the faculty to have a complete understanding of the story, screenplay and production. (The directing faculty member will watch time and make certain to end this session with enough time to accomplish the next section.)

Section III – Presentation and Discussion of Storyboards

The purpose of this section is to give the director an opportunity to present the film to the faculty – frame-by-frame. Storyboards will be presented as a visual representation of how the film will play when it’s completed (e.g., the first storyboard should be the first image in the completed film), and SHOULD NOT be presented as a representation of coverage.

Directors will present storyboards one scene at a time – uninterrupted – describing the action and dialogue that happens in each frame. After each scene, faculty will ask questions and raise concerns. All other production members should be prepared to participate in the answers to the faculty’s questions. Directors will continue to the next scene only after all of the faculty’s questions/concerns have been addressed.

Any storyboard that depicts a camera angle that is intended to be shot as a visual effect, or is intended to be shot with a camera that is different from the primary thesis camera issued, must be either scanned from a yellow page or paper or have a large yellow banner applied under it in the Prezi.

The First Assistant Director will take notes during this section, making certain to document every faculty concern and related resolutions. It is important that the 1st A.D. has a complete understanding of any and all topics of discussion (the production team will rely on the 1st AD’s notes to address concerns after Director’s Prep). So the 1st AD should be prepared to stop the Q&A at any time for clarification.

Section IV – Creation of an Action Plan

The 1st Assistant Director will review with faculty and students every problem identified during prep. Together, faculty and students will determine who will be responsible for solving each problem before production begins. The 1st AD will create a list of these problems and responsible persons, which will become the “Action Plan.” Before the end of the day, the 1st AD will email the film’s Action Plan to each member of the faculty participating in the Director’s Prep. In the days following Director’s Prep, everyone will work to complete the Action Plan.

Prior to the first day of production, the 1st AD will email the completed Action Plan to the faculty, with a description of the resolution(s) for each problem identified.

If the action plan is not complete and submitted 12 hours before the first shooting day’s call time then the show will be penalized by the reduction of some or all of the shows overtime/PU days/special equipment privileges to be determined by the faculty production supervisor.