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How Pre-Production Planning Drives Successful Video Shoots

Updated: May 26, 2023

Hiring a video production company means joining teams of talented people to bring your content ideas to life. When bringing so many great minds together, you must be intentional in your approach to the creation process because not all videos created are inherently useful or effective. Videos that are worth budgeting for are the ones that deliver a return on investment, and those videos can only be achieved with thorough planning and execution at every stage of the production process (pre-production, production, post-production). While each stage of the production is important, pre-production is crucial because it lays out the foundation of the content and sets the tone for the entire project. One of the critical components of pre-production is the pre-production planning meeting between the video production company and the client.

In this blog post, we will cover the importance of pre-production meetings, hit on what a typical planning meeting entails, outline what all effective pre-production meetings have in common, and provide a set of questions that you can reference to make sure you are getting the most out of your planning meetings.

White Cloud Media Group pre-production planning meeting with Jon Garcia, Geekdom Program Manager
Pre-production planning meeting with Jon Garcia, Geekdom Program Manager

Most pre-production meetings are scheduled once a project has been booked and the agenda for the meeting is determined by the complexity and needs of the project. For instance, if you want to produce a commercial with actors and a commercial set, you will very likely need to have multiple pre-production meetings dedicated to working through the initial concept, creating mood boards to establish the look and feel of the video, storyboarding out the scenes, writing the scripts, holding rehearsals, talent casting and location scouting, and production management meetings to walk through the needs on set like hair, makeup, equipment rentals and crew required.

For most corporate and nonprofit videos, however, a one to two-hour pre-production meeting should be enough time to develop the project plan and discuss all of the elements of the video and production in more detail. While each production company may run their pre-production meetings a little differently, the intention for holding them is the same, and they are helpful for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. Re-establishing the project scope and setting realistic timelines for filming and producing the video in order to keep everyone on schedule and the project within budget.

  2. Crystalizing the vision by discussing the goals, objectives, and desired outcomes so the production team can produce the content that meets their client's expectations. This pre-work also reduces any misunderstanding that might lead to a misunderstanding in the editing room with editors who may or may not be on-set for production, ultimately improving the efficacy of the video.

  3. Identifying potential challenges with any aspect of the production, for example, location limitations, scheduling conflicts, competing deadlines, permits, and weather or holiday constraints, and provides troubleshooting time to derive workable solutions that prevent production delays and protect the production quality of the video.

  4. Establishing a rapport early and is the first step in building a collaborative client/creative relationship that fosters trust throughout the project. While always very important, these meetings become critical in productions with sensitive or personal subject matter. By taking the time to walk through the subject matter and desired messaging, the production team can better understand how to facilitate the interviews and offer ideas ahead of the shoot. It is also a chance for everyone to become more familiar with one another before going into production day with people running around behind hot camera lights.

Screenshot of client project
Sample of a client project board

You will know if you had a productive planning meeting if you can answer the following questions:

  1. What is the purpose of this video?

  2. What is the story and key message(s)?

  3. Why should your audience care?

  4. What are the main takeaways and CTA?

  5. How will the video be constructed to achieve the above?

  6. Is the theme, look, tone, style, and overall treatment of the video established?

  7. Who will you designate to be on camera?

  8. Why are they the right person for this video?

  9. What will they say, and will they need coaching before for the interview?

  10. Have locations been confirmed?

  11. Has a filming date been set?

  12. Who from your team will be involved in the editing process?

  13. Did you discuss the long-term use of the content and how can it be repurposed?

  14. Did you narrow in on the support images, data, supporting footage, and photos you need?

  15. How will you measure the success of the video?

  16. Did you set expectations and a timeline for the projects completion?

The importance of comprehensive planning ahead of production day can't be overstated, and we suspect that if you have read our post up to this point, you agree. These meetings are the cornerstone of all good video content, and we take pre-production work seriously because it helps our team do their best work and deliver on our promise of helping clients achieve their business goals and see a return on their investment.

Pre-production meetings force you to take the time to thoroughly plan out every aspect of the project and identify potential issues while also increasing creativity and efficiency. Whether this is your first video project or your 30th, make this planning a priority, and make sure that the creative partner you hire includes at least one of these meetings in your video package.

When you set clear expectations for a project, review the scope of work and solidify a timeline, collaborate on the messaging and treatment of the video, and identify potential issues and bottlenecks before filming, you will better manage your time and your project budget.

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