Production Prep (F3)

The purpose of the Production Prep is to workshop the shooting plan in the most practical way possible. Rather than creating a slideshow and delivering a formal presentation, we want you to walk us through how you practically intend to achieve your vision in the actual space. (Please make sure you have access to a location for the prep. If you’re unable to gain access for the prep, please inform Andrew as soon as possible so that we can devise an alternative plan.)

Production Preps will ordinarily take place primarily on location, on the afternoon of the third day of pre-production (check the weekly schedule for exact times). The full above-the-line team (DR, PR, DP, PD) should be present. If at all possible, please arrange for your actors to also be present for rehearsal at this prep; if you wish, you may double this meeting as your required rehearsal. Failing that, please arrange for stand-ins to be present.

It is the responsibility of the above-the-line team to be as prepared as possible for the Production Prep. What this means for a specific show may vary, depending on the creative vision of the show and the nature of the practical logistics that need to be figured out.

The most important thing is to be proactive in thinking things through, both creatively and practically. You might not have every detail figured out before the start of the prep, and that’s totally normal. If you can be clear about communicating your vision, as well as communicating where you’re still facing challenges in executing that vision, the prep will be a productive time to identify opportunities, anticipate challenges, and work through a plan of what needs to happen.

Production prep materials

We don’t want the preparation for the prep to be filled with unnecessary busy work. For example, if you’re not quite ready to storyboard the film because you’ve only just locked the location, we don’t want you to put the cart before the horse and waste a bunch of time on doing storyboards you’re never going to use. Conversely, if you find storyboards helpful to your own process and an effective way for you to think through your film and communicate what’s in your head, we want you to have that opportunity to present your boards.

The following are typical of the kinds of materials that are helpful at the production prep, but each crew member should use their own judgment about how best to prepare:

  • PRODUCER:
    • Address and directions for the on-location prep.
    • Provisional set-up schedule.
    • Headshots of all actors in important roles.
    • Location Hazard Assessment Checklist for all locked locations.
  • DIRECTOR:
    • Annotated shooting script: Mark up with beat notes. Also indicate where VFX occur.
    • Overhead diagrams showing camera positions for each scene’s proposed blocking.
  • PRODUCTION DESIGNER:
    • Multiple-angle photos of all locked locations.
    • Photos of key design elements, such as props and costumes. (You can alternatively bring physical samples to the prep.)
  • DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY:
    • Lighting plans for each scene. These can be included in the overhead diagrams.
    • Reference stills for the look of each scene.

Feel free to also share any other materials that you think could be helpful for communicating the shooting plan of the film, such as storyboards, previz, tests, etc.

Please make sure that key materials — especially the script and the location address — are posted to the show’s Slack channel no later than 5:00PM on the day before the prep.

Production prep process

The ATL team will meet with Andrew at 2PM in Prep Room 2 to review the Production Prep materials and provide a 10,000ft view of the film. There will be no formal presentation as part of this, but each member of the team should be prepared to discuss the vision for their contributions to the movie. 

At around 2:30PM, we’ll drive out to the location for the prep. The rest of the prep faculty will join us at the location, where the bulk of the prep will take place.

At the location, we will work through the following:

  • BLOCKING AND COVERAGE
    • The Director will block the scenes to be shot at this location with actors or stand-ins. The Director will then explain camera coverage for the scene as blocked. All other Production Members should be prepared to participate in the answers to the faculty’s questions.
  • CINE AND GEAR
    • The Director of Photography will present the specific lighting plan of the movie to capture the blocking and coverage as presented previously by the Director. All other Production Members should be prepared to participate in the answers to the faculty’s questions.
  • OTHER LOCATIONS
    • The Director and their team will then explain the coverage for any other locations, primarily using the overhead diagrams and location photos.
  • SAFETY REVIEW
    • The Producer will summarize all of the safety considerations for each scene at each location, including any new safety concerns that may have come to light during the course of the Production Prep.