.:Thoughts on Production – Chapter One

February 6, 2008 at 12:53 pm (production) ()

Before, I mentioned how I begin my editing process. I realized while writing the article that I kept wanting to throw in how I go about starting a new project. So, welcome to the new series: Thoughts on Production.


Let’s begin with the end product in mind, shall we? What will the completed work accomplish? Feature length film, short film, YouTube, DVD… plenty of options. So, firstly, start with the scale. How long is the story you want to tell?

If you have a script written with industry standard margins (usually written with software like FinalDraft or the free Celtx), the general rule of thumb is one minute per page. It can vary, depending on if your script is dialogue heavy or very descriptive, but it’s at least a starting point.

So, now we have something of an idea of how long your finished product will be, which should help you decide where the final product will be (internet or DVD). Let’s move forward.


Regardless of whether you are making a narrative or a documentary, look around you for what you can use. Be it people, locations, items, vehicles, etc. Use what you have when starting out. Production can get expensive, and if you are just learning the ropes, beg, borrow or… well, don’t steal, but start out small if you’ve never undertaken a production before.

My first production was a silly short story that my college friends and I made during the finals week of our freshman year. We shot until we figured we had told the story well enough… there was no script, and we had a loose concept of what would be funny. It wound up being 20 minutes long, and really didn’t do much of anything beyond make people laugh at how odd we were.

The second project was a serious one, and was scripted out to 35 pages. It ran 37 minutes long, and I relied on friends to be cast and crew, and used locations that I had access to (or asked to have access to for free).

Third project… I got too ambitious, had a 55 page script, then while we were into production, the major location that I had wrangled due to a friend knowing a guy who could get us in fell through. It was the basis for about half of the shots of the movie… time went by, my actors grew out or chopped off their hair, continuity was gone, and the movie was abandoned.

Let that be a cautionary tale for getting too big too fast. I’ll leave you with these three ideas:

1.) Determine the finished format.
2.) Use what is cheaply available.
3.) Use what is (and will stay) available.
I hope to continue this series, and I hope this was helpful for focusing your ideas on going out and making something wonderful!

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