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C&I Studios Blog Tips from Film Professionals on Pre-Producing a Documentary

Getting a production ready to go can feel overwhelming. You have to decide what the story is, who will be in it, what they will say, how you will shoot it and so much more. But there are some basic steps that every documentary filmmaker should take before heading into production.

Documentaries are incredibly popular right now. Even corporations and other businesses are getting in on this media trend, and for good reason. Read why in “Why Creating a Documentary is Good for Corporate Business“.

Documentaries, like any other film or series, need to be prepped in pre-production before filming begins. It might be even more important to follow through with pre-production when it comes to documentaries or docuseries. You want to make sure that you have the right information, the right people to feature, and a list of necessary shots to make an impression, to name a few.


Here are a few tips from film professionals on pre-producing a documentary:

Do your research.

Know your subject inside and out before you start filming. This will make the pre-production process much smoother and will help you avoid any potential pitfalls.

Having the right information is absolutely crucial to a documentary project. Research can help you determine what the story is, who the key players are, and what needs to be included to make your project complete.

Build a team of experts.

You will need a team of experts to help you bring your project to life. This team should include a producer, director, cinematographer, and editor (at the very least). Each member of your team should be an expert in their field and will be able to help you make decisions throughout the pre-production process.

You’ll also want experts on the subject of the documentary. These may be the people you end up interviewing, or they might just be consultants who can help you with the research process.

Create a shot list.

In order to ensure that you get all of the shots that you need, it is important to create a shot list. This list should include both external and internal shots, as well as any special shots that you might need ( aerial, time-lapse, etc).

Your shot list will be your roadmap during production and will help you stay on track while you are filming.

Get organized.

Create a production binder or folder to keep all of your important documents in one place. This will help you stay on top of things and avoid misplaced items.

Some items that you might want to keep in your production binder are: a shot list, production schedule, research notes, contact information, and release forms.

Plan for the unexpected.

Sure, this one is a cliche, but that doesn’t make it any less important. No matter how much you plan, there will always be some element of the unknown. It is important to have a backup plan for everything, just in case something goes wrong.

For example, if you are planning to interview someone who is unpredictable, it is always a good idea to have a backup interviewee lined up. That way, if your first choice cancels at the last minute, you will still have someone to talk to and interview.

Manage your budget.

Filmmaking can be expensive, so it’s important to stay within your budget. Budgets are crucial to the production process and can make or break a project.

Create a budget early on in the pre-production process and do your best to stick to it. This will help you avoid any financial surprises down the road. Keep track of your expenses and always get quotes for potential purchases. This will help you stay on track and avoid any unexpected costs.

Collaborate with others.

Filmmaking is a collaborative process, so it’s important to work well with others. Be respectful of other people’s time and opinions, and be willing to compromise when necessary.

Remember, you are working towards a common goal, so it’s important to be a team player. Try to see things from other people’s perspectives and be open to new ideas.

Be flexible.

Things will inevitably change during the course of production, so it’s important to be flexible. Be open to making changes to your plans and be willing to adapt on the fly.

Rigidity will only lead to frustration, so embrace the changes and go with the flow. This flexibility will help you stay on track and avoid any unnecessary stress.

Take your time.

Rushing through the pre-production process will only lead to problems down the road. Take your time and make sure that everything is planned out before you start production.

All of the planning and preparation that you do during pre-production will pay off in the end. So, take your time, do your research, and make sure that you are ready for anything.

Pre-production is an important phase of filmmaking, so it’s important to do it right. By following these tips, you can set yourself up for success and make the process a little less daunting. Just remember to stay organized, be flexible, and take your time. With a little bit of planning, you can make your dream project a reality.

How Can I Make Sure that Pre-Production for my Documentary is Done Right?

Hiring a professional production studio will make all the difference when it comes to your documentary’s pre-production.

The studio will already have a team in place that is familiar with the pre-production process and can help you get your project off the ground. They will also have the necessary resources and equipment to make sure that your project is a success.

A professional production studio will also be able to provide you with helpful advice and feedback during the pre-production process. They will be able to help you fine-tune your plans and make sure that everything is in place before you start production.

Hiring a professional production studio is the best way to ensure that your documentary’s pre-production is done right. With their help, you can focus on making your project a reality.

C&I Studios s one of those production companies. We have amazing crews and studios that can make sure that every detail in your project is accounted for, no matter how big or small. We also have a wealth of resources and equipment that can be used to make sure that your project is a success.

If you are looking for a production company to help with your documentary’s pre-production, look no further than C&I Studios. We are a full-service studio that can help you with every step of the process, from start to finish.

Contact us today to learn more about our services or to get started on your documentary project.

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