You might know what you want to shoot, but how long will it take to do it? Here is how to create a simple shooting schedule so you'll have the answer.
Every director should have the capacity for spontaneity, the ability to deal with the unexpected during a shoot. On-the-spot ingenuity, however, is not enough. You'll greatly improve your chance of success - and save time, money and energy to boot - if you use the pre-production phase to craft a detailed plan of attack. If you take the time to create an accurate shot list, consider details like location availability, and fashion a shooting schedule accordingly, your shoot will go much faster and smoother - and your cast, crew and client will thank you for it.
Focus on the Project
No exact formula exists for creating an effective shooting schedule. Every project has different parameters and considerations. For instance, you might need less time to shoot an hour-long corporate video, which consists of interviews and demonstrations in a studio, than you'll need to shoot a four-minute music video that requires lip-synching and varied locations.
So, before plunging into a scheduling frenzy, you must first consider what footage you need in order to complete the project. Based on the client's wishes, the purpose of the video, the intended audience and your own vision, you should prepare a shooting script, with helpful video cues and audio notes. Skip the fancy storyboards and focus instead on crafting a specific shot list - covering everything from establishing shots to cutaways - and, if necessary, a few lighting diagrams to ensure faster setups during the shoot.
This will also help you to determine your equipment needs. For example, if you're shooting a promotional video for a construction company, you might want smooth shots that require a crane or dolly. Conversely, if you're covering a concert from various angles, you'll need multiple cameras, each equipped with a stabilizer.
To figure out how long it could take to shoot your entire script, consider that, on average, one page usually equals one minute on-screen. Of course, the exact timing depends on the exact nature of the project. Dialogue-heavy scenes, for instance, tend to go faster than those filled with action. From here, consider how long it might take to prepare each scene, including lighting, equipment and set arrangement. To ensure smooth set changes, consider shooting establishing shots first, followed by talent close-ups and cutaways.
The key is to be realistic, not overly ambitious. Though shorter schedules are often less expensive - requiring less money for renting equipment, purchasing food and compensating your cast and crew - it's far better to overestimate how much time you'll need than to rush the production. So, allow some extra room in the schedule, and be honest with your client about your expecta…