#pre-production

Prep Meetings (BTH)

Story Meeting

Required: WR/DROptional: PR/PD/DP/ED

This meeting is an opportunity for writers/directors and the Writing & Directing instructors to reflect upon the story. It’s an opportunity for the director to convey their vision and explore it with the faculty. The meeting will be primarily conceptual — more about dreaming than practical logistics — but we will touch on production elements where relevant.

  • Post the latest draft of the script to the show’s Slack channel at least 24 hours in advance.
  • Optional: Any visual references that might be helpful.
  • Optional: Any casting hopes or possibilities.

Casting & Locations Meeting

Required: DR/PDOptional: PR/DP

This meeting with the Acting & Directing instructors will begin the work of bridging the gap between dream and reality: how a mental image of a character might be brought to life through the casting of a specific actor, and how a creative vision of the story world might translate into the practical mechanics of building it. It is still an exploratory meeting, but one tailored towards how you might accomplish the grand vision — especially with regards to locations and casting possibilities.

  • Post the latest draft of the script to the show’s Slack channel at least 24 hours in advance.
  • Update the Scope Breakdown (Google Sheet) in advance of the meeting.
  • The characters:
    • Post all casting breakdowns before this meeting.
    • Bring pictures of your intentions.
    • If you’ve already cast a role: show a photo and discuss the qualities they bring to the role.
    • If you’ve not cast a role yet: share the feeling that a famous actor/artist may evoke for you, and then show your own approximation to that feeling from our own casting resources.
  • The world: 
    • Bring pictures of your intentions. For example, if Tallahassee must double for NYC, show pictures of the NYC you imagine and some possibilities in the nearby area for where you might shoot. Or, if a space ship is to be built, show some reference images and discuss how you will approach fabricating it. 
    • Address the plan for any other specifics that could be complex, such as VFX, props, make-up, costumes, etc.
    • Be prepared to also think outside of the box for alternative solutions — to enhance the storytelling, maximize production value, and/or address practical challenges.
    • Be prepared to think about how to reduce scope, if needed.

Production Logistics Meeting

Required: PR • Optional: DR/PD/DP

This meeting with the Head of Production is a follow-up to last semester’s logistics meeting. It will focus on reviewing what’s been accomplished since the last meeting and identifying what’s left to do, setting a plan in place for tackling any unresolved logistics.

  • Update the Scope Breakdown (Google Sheet) in advance of the meeting.

VFX Meeting

Required: DR/PR/VFX Supe (if applicable) • Optional: PD/DP

This meeting with the VFX instructors is only for shows that are planning visual effects. It’s a follow-up to last semester’s VFX scope meetings and will focus on the reviewing and approving of the show’s VFX breakdown.

  • Slack the VFX breakdown to JStone at least 24 hours in advance.

Director’s Prep

Required: DR/PD/PR/DP/1D/2D/AR

This meeting with the Directing & Cine instructors will focus on the practical plan for how the holistic vision for the film will be executed. These preps will take place a few days before the start of production, so all cast and locations should be locked. The exact format of the prep will be decided upon by the faculty and the creative team of each show; it could take place at a key location or at the school. The goal is to make this a practical, productive work meeting to help the shows get prepared for the shoot (rather than a dog-and-pony show) and students will have the flexibility to present their plan in a manner that best suits their process and the priorities of the show.

In advance of the meeting, students should share prep materials for the following in the show’s Slack channel and should be prepared to discuss them at the prep session:

  • The latest draft of the script with numbered scenes (shared at least 24 hours in advance).
  • Update the Scope Breakdown (Google Sheet) in advance of the meeting.
  • A director’s statement: a simple, one-page document that clearly states the filmmaker’s vision.
  • Visual references that convey idea behind the film: e.g., mood boards, tone clips, and/or look books.
  • Any other materials that the director may think are helpful in conveying their vision.
  • Definitive casting choices. Rehearsal notes, if present.
  • A cinematographic plan from the perspective of both the director and their DP. Any tests would be very much appreciated.
  • Coverage plans for each scene: e.g., storyboards, overhead diagrams, and/or lined scripts. 
  • The production board (header board and a strip for each scene in shooting order) and a provisional set-up schedule.

If there are any areas where there are still things that need to be figured out, students are encouraged to be candid about it so that we can use this prep time to discuss a plan of attack for those unresolved tasks.

The 1st AD will be tasked with taking notes during the prep, making certain to document faculty concerns and related resolutions. The 1st AD should have a complete understanding of any and all topics of discussion. They should be able by the end to enumerate the points made and possible alternatives after the meeting. They will also be responsible for the creation of an Action Plan to address notes, even if it means finding an alternative solution.

Slack Channels (D2)

Each show will maintain a Slack channel for the duration of the project. The goal of this channel is to foster and enhance the creative/logistical efficiency of all team members and to share materials with the faculty.

Please follow these instructions for the creation and use of the channel:

  • No later than the beginning of a show’s pre-production time, the Producer must create a Slack channel titled “Prod#-year”. For example: 01D2-2021
  • Producer invites all the creative team members and all faculty associated with pre-production, production, and post-production.
  • Producer posts the latest version of script at the time of channel creation. This will be known as Version 1. Please relabel the document “Prod#-Script Title-Version#”. For example: 01-Flip the Script-Version#1
  • Producer lists all crew members and their roles.
  • The creative then uses the channel to share materials, in accordance with the director’s prep guidelines.

Director’s Prep (D2)

The Director’s Preps for the D2 cycle will take place primarily at the shooting location(s) in order to address the real-world, practical dimensions of shooting the film in as concrete a manner as possible. In advance of the prep, to get everyone oriented to the show, the ATL team will post materials to the show’s Slack channel. On the day of the prep, before arriving at the location, the Director will meet with Jed to discuss the creative vision for the film and the Producer will meet with Tony to review the production logistics. All of the ATL team and the prep faculty will then convene at the location to workshop the shooting plan for the show.

Slack Channel Content Requirements

In preparation for the Director’s Prep session, the ATL team should post materials to the show’s Slack channel. This will help the team and the faculty all get on the same page about the show. Posts should include:

Producer:

  • No later than the beginning of a show’s pre-production time, create a Slack channel titled “Prod#-year”. For example: 01D2-2021
  • Invite all the creative team members and all faculty associated with pre-production, production, and post-production.
  • Post the latest version of script at the time of channel creation. This will be known as Version 1. Please relabel the document “Prod#-Script Title-Version#”. For example: 01-Flip the Script-Version#1
  • List all crew members and their roles.
  • Provide a parking plan with directions (due no later than 2 hours before the location scout call time).

Director:

  • Script changes:
    • Ensure there is always the latest version of the script in the channel by posting new versions in the channel promptly upon completion. Use the same naming convention, for example: 01-Flip the Script-Version#2
    • No more versions of the script can be submitted after On-Location Prep have been completed unless faculty authorizes it.
  • Casting photos or audition clips for all principal actors.
  • No later than 12 hours before the location scout call time, the director will submit a Prelim shot list. This list is developed very generally in collaboration with the cinematographer.

Production Designer:

  • All the major props that are needed for the show.
  • All the major props that have been acquired for the show.
  • All wardrobe and hair/make-up looks that are intended for the show.
  • Any wardrobe and hair/make-up tests that have been prepared.
  • Important set dressings intended and/or found.

Cinematographer:

  • Detailed location photos, including exteriors of location and interiors of shooting areas.
  • Look Book (due no later than 12 hours before the location scout call time):
    • State the genre of the film you are shooting.
    • Using Shotdeck, for each slugline create a series of film stills that inspire your lighting choices. They should include contrast context, window treatments, moonlight treatment, sun orientation, tonal range, etc.
    • For each image explain why that image was chosen, this is for lighting only.
  • Luminance Plan, Color Plan and Story Plan (due no later than 12 hours before the location scout call time).

Location Scout Day

  • When no more than two locations have been locked for scouts, Producer will post in the channel the location/s address and time of arrival for the prep.
  • Director meets with Jed at the school at 2:15pm (or 75 minutes before arrival at the location).
  • Producer meets with Tony at the school at 2:15pm (or 75 minutes before arrival at the location).
  • ATL and faculty meet at first location at 3:30pm.
  • It is not required, but it is strongly encouraged to enlist the help of other people (cast actors, friends, family, BFA students, etc.) to stand in for actors while the scenes get blocked at the prep. If no help can be found the Producer and Production Designer will stand in as the actors.
  • Each department head will keep notes for ideas, concerns, etc. for each scene discussed at the location with the faculty.
  • If there’s a second location and time permits, the ATL and faculty move onto the second location immediately after the prep wraps at the first location.

Budget (Doc)

Each student will be allocated $140 to go toward documentary production expenses. These funds can be used in the following categories:

  • Petty Cash (which includes production design, production supplies, music or stock image licenses). You can pay for these expenses out of pocket, then get reimbursed.
  • Travel (if traveling away from Tallahassee, can include fuel, airfare, lodging, car rental, and meals). With the exception of fuel and meals, the school needs to book these expenses directly for you in advance. Do not pay out of pocket for any of these if you plan to use the school funds. You can pay for fuel and meals out of pocket, then get reimbursed.
  • Services (if you need to hire someone, like a composer). The school needs to pay for services directly, and this must be initiated at least 1 week prior to services beginning.

In order for the funds to be released to you, each student will need to submit a Budget Sheet to the Head of Production showing how you intend to use those funds. Once the budget is approved, instructions will be provided on the process for using those funds depending on which category your expenses fall within.

This is a “use-it-or-lose-it” budget.

Doc Schedule Overview

Jan 6 – Feb 26Development & Pre-Production
Feb 11-12Doc Group Production Meetings
Feb 15-19Individual Meetings
Feb 23-26Doc Group Greenlight Meetings
Feb 25-26Equipment Check-Out
Feb 27 – Mar 18Documentary Production
Mar 22Equipment Check-In
Mar 19-29Paper Edits
Mar 30 – Apr 14Post Production
Apr 18Documentary Screening

Documentary Production Plan

Instructions

Having a smart plan for production in the COVID era is essential. Each show will need to create a production plan that addresses COVID-19 safety concerns. Getting approval for production will be contingent on presenting a satisfactory production plan at the show’s green light meeting.

Part 1: Documentary Subjects

For each subject who’ll be on camera, answer the following questions. If the answer is yes for any given question, explain how you’ll mitigate the increased safety risks.

  1. Are they in an elevated-risk demographic for COVID-19?
  2. Will they need to be maskless for interviews or b-roll?
  3. Will they need to be in close proximity with other subjects or crew members?
  4. Will they need to perform any actions that require shouting, coughing, singing, or physical exertion?

Part 2: Shooting Locations

You’ll need to develop a plan for mitigating safety risks at each shooting location. The most important part of this will come later, with a tech scout at each location. For now, answer the following questions for each shooting location that you’re considering.

  1. Is the shooting location interior or exterior?
  2. Is the shooting location a large, open, well-ventilated space or a cramped, closed, poorly ventilated space?
  3. Is the shooting location public or private?
  4. Do you anticipate any difficulties in doing a tech scout in advance of the shooting day?

Part 3: Travel and Accommodations

How you travel with your crew poses its own safety concerns. If the answer is yes for any given question, explain how you’ll mitigate the increased safety risks.

  1. Will any crew members be traveling outside Leon County?
  2. Will any crew members be using mass transit, such as buses or planes?
  3. Will any crew members be carpooling?
  4. Will any crew members be doing any overnight stays outside of Leon County, such as Airbnbs, hotels, or parents’ houses?

Part 4: Schedule

Using the Google Sheet that Tony Ciarlariello will provide, each group will need to make a comprehensive, day-by-day schedule that outlines all tech scouts, shooting activities, travel, and accommodation for all of the group’s shows.

ASSESS THE SAFETY CONCERNS

As you work on each section of the production plan, assess the level of COVID-19 safety concerns for each answer and then change the color of the answer according to the following criteria: 

GREEN – Standard level of COVID-19 safety concerns

YELLOW – Warning of possibly elevated COVID-19 concerns

RED – Alert of definitely elevated COVID-19 concerns

Documentary Tech Scouts

Under normal circumstances, it is not uncommon for documentary filmmakers to shoot in unfamiliar or uncontrollable locations. The COVID era is of course far from normal, however, so we must pay much stricter attention to how shooting locations are scouted, prepped, and secured. One of the most important steps in this process is performing a tech scout at the location, ideally at least a day in advance of the actual shooting, so that a safety plan can be developed for how the production day will be run.

Prior to the Tech Scout

As early in the process as possible, begin to gather information about any locations you are considering. This will enable you to anticipate more things in advance of arriving at the location for the tech scout. For example:

  • If possible, visit the location in-person to scope it out, take photos, and make some preliminary notes about how you’ll use the location.
  • If it’s not possible to scope it out yourself, ask the owner or someone with access to the location to send you photos or video walkthroughs.
  • See if you can get hold of a floor plan and measurements, so that you can start mapping out the production zones. Looking up the street view and satellite view on Google Maps can also be helpful too.

At the tech scout

The tech scout should ideally be completed at least one day in advance of shooting at the location, with all crew members present. If that is not possible, you’ll need to get approval in advance from Tony to do a tech scout on the same day as production, and you’ll need to allow for at least one hour to complete the scout.

  • Treat locations as if they are infected and use PPE accordingly. Do not touch items native to the location while scouting unless absolutely necessary.
  • Have as much conversation outdoors as possible.
  • Try to maximize space and air flow when selecting spaces to shoot. Plan to film outdoors as much as possible.
  • Create a plan for maintaining a secure perimeter at the location for a controlled work area, free from outsiders to the production.
  • Create a sanitization plan for the location:
    • What surfaces need disinfecting?
    • Who will be responsible for doing this?
    • When and how frequently will it occur?
  • Map out spaces for:
    • Parking;
    • Staging equipment;
    • Green room (if needed);
    • Shooting spaces;
    • Outdoor mask-free zone – with room for physical distancing;
    • Lunch – with room for physical distancing.
  • Assess and determine:
    • If any spaces will make physical distancing difficult;
    • Access to bathrooms and hand-washing/sanitizing stations;
    • Whether any special considerations need to be made regarding air flow and/or HVAC, especially in Zone A areas.

Documentary Equipment Approval

Production Paperwork

Instructions

This form must be completed and submitted to the Head of Production (Tony Ciarlariello) before a show’s greenlight meeting. The purpose of the form is to ensure that there’s a plan in place for all equipment use out in the field and to ensure that any personal gear is suitable for production.

Equipment Transportation Plan

This section is document where production will occur and the means of transportation for all school equipment. Note that the EVA1 camera and batteries cannot be checked if traveling by air and must be brought on the plane as carry-on luggage. Be prepared to any questions about the specifics of the transportation plan at the greenlight meeting.

Equipment Back-up Plan

Provide a plan for how you will continue with production if the EVA1 camera or any other essential equipment goes down while you are out in the field. This may include use of personal equipment to complete the project or, if local to Tallahassee, working with the ER to get equipment replaced or repaired. Note that the ER will not typically be able to mail equipment to another city if the show is outside the school’s studio zone.

Personal Equipment

In order to maintain consistency of image fidelity and to serve the learning outcomes of the project, the EVA1 camera should always be used as the primary camera for production. There are instances, however, where productions may wish to use a personal camera (e.g., as a b-camera or for shots that cannot be executed with the EVA1) or other, supplemental, personal equipment. Use this section to provide make/model/specs of any personal gear and an brief explanation of why this gear is needed for the film. Pay particular attention to personal camera specs to make sure that the captured media is compatible with the post-production workflow.

F1 Specs

Content specs

Page count2 pages (minimum)
3 pages (maximum)
Story runtime2:30 (minimum)
3:30 (maximum)
Credits runtime1:08
Total runtime3:38 (minimum)
4:38 (maximum)
Quantity of scenesNo limit
Quantity of locationsThe script can include a variety of locations as sluglines, but you’ll need to plan to be able to shoot them all at one actual location
Quantity of characters2 characters
ChildrenNo
AnimalsNo
WeaponsNo
StuntsNothing that would typically call for a stunt coordinator
IntimacyNothing that would require a closed set or typically call for an intimacy coordinator

Production specs

Shooting days1 day
Length of workday12 hours
Earliest call time6:00AM
Latest wrap time12:00AM
Night shootsNo
Locations per day1 location
Distance to locationWithin the studio zone
Pick-up daysNo

Capture specs

Camera packagePanasonic AU-EVA1
Frame rate24.000p
Sensor modeS35 MIX2.8K
Capture resolution2048 x 1080 (2K)
Capture aspect ratio1.90:1
Approved mattes1.37:1 • 1:85:1 • 2.39:1
Capture formatMOV
Codec422All-Intra 100M
Gamma/color presetSCENE2 (eV-LOOK2)
Sampling4:2:2 10-bit
Bitrate100 Mbps (VBR)

Data allocation

Pages per day3 pages
Shooting ratio20:1
Data rate0.8 GB/minute
Data per page16 GB
Data per day48 GB
Total data48 GB
Dailies per day60 minutes
Total dailies60 minutes

Post-Production

Picture Edit

Pic edit softwareMedia Composer
Pic edit days7 days
Pic edit locationThird floor labs

Sound

Production soundSingle system
Sound design softwareMedia Composer/ProTools
Sound design days1 day
Sound design locationThird floor labs
Sound mix daysNot applicable
Sound mix locationNot applicable

Visual Effects

VFX scopeNo visual effects
VFX softwareNot applicable
VFX daysNot applicable
VFX locationNot applicable

Color

Coloring softwareDaVinci Resolve
Coloring days1 day
Coloring locationThird floor labs

D1 Specs

Content specs

Page count1 page (minimum)
2 pages (maximum)
Story runtime1:30 (minimum)
2:30 (maximum)
Credits runtime1:08
Total runtime2:38 (minimum)
3:38 (maximum)
Quantity of scenes2 scenes (no more, no less; story must take place between dawn and dusk on a single day)
Quantity of locationsTwo separate spaces within one physical location
Quantity of characters2 characters
ChildrenNo
AnimalsNo
WeaponsNo
StuntsNothing that would typically call for a stunt coordinator
IntimacyNothing that would require a closed set or typically call for an intimacy coordinator

Production specs

Shooting days1 day
Length of workday10-12 hours
Earliest call time7:00 AM
Latest wrap time9:00 PM
Night shootsNo
Locations per day1 location
Distance to locationWithin the studio zone
Pick-up daysNo

Capture specs

Camera packageRED
Frame rate24.000p
Sensor mode7K FF
Capture resolution2048 x 1080 (2K)
Capture aspect ratio1.90:1
Approved mattes1:85:1
Capture formatMOV
CodecProRes 4444 HQ
Gamma/color spaceRWG / Log3G10
Color processingIPP2
Output color spaceRec. 709
Output tone mapMedium Contrast
Highlight roll-offMedium
Sampling4:4:4 12-bit
Bitrate302 Mbps (VBR)

Data allocation

Pages per day2 pages
Shooting ratio20:1
Data rate2.6 GB/minute
Data per page52 GB
Data per day104 GB
Time for Wild Lines/Room Tone5 minutes
Data for Wild Lines/Room Tone13 GB
Total data117 GB
Dailies per day45 minutes
Total dailies45 minutes

Post-Production

Picture Edit

Pic edit softwareMedia Composer
Pic edit days4 days
Pic edit locationPost Hall

Sound

Production soundSingle system
Sound design softwareProTools
Sound design days3 days
Sound design locationPost Hall
Sound mix daysNot applicable
Sound mix locationNot applicable

Visual Effects

VFX scopeNo visual effects
VFX softwareNot applicable
VFX daysNot applicable
VFX locationNot applicable

Color

Coloring softwareDaVinci Resolve
Coloring days0.5 days
Coloring locationPost Hall