Digging a Hole Instead of Doing Preproduction

Updated: Feb 17

If you know me, you know I am a planner. I rarely do things off the cuff or without warning. I leave that to my beautiful wife. If I am going to do something, I want to make sure it can be done.


Man standing in front a cork board looking frustratied

That is especially true with filmmaking. I know there will always be things you cannot plan for and some of those will be happy accidents but I want to know what I am getting before I start to shoot.


What does that all have to do with digging a hole?

On my short film, Help Me First! I did complete pre-production including creating a Filmatick for the entire film.


Every single shot.


Hill view manor

After I found my location in Hill View Manor, just outside of Pittsburgh, PA, I measured the rooms I needed and scouted the exterior. I even had plans for the place with dimensions and everything. Since I am familiar with the Maya animation software from Autodesk, I built my sets in 3d with exact dimensions.


This was done so that I could see if I could fit my cameras into the rooms I wanted to shoot. No sense in trying to shoot in a room with actors if you cannot even fit your crew!


One of the exterior shots I had planned had an incredibly low camera angle, looking up at one of the characters. I wanted grass in the foreground and the character looking into the camera. I put the shot together in Maya and it looked spot on.

Camera Crew on set for the Film Help Me First

Until I looked in another view from the side. The camera was completely IN THE GROUND. How was I going to shoot this? This was a ridiculously small budget and I was quite sure I could not dig a trench just for one shot. The idea of grass covered table was brought up but once again, why do it for one shot?

The shot was cut. Before we even got on set.


I loved the look of that shot but there was no way I was going to get it. So, I figured out different angles and got something I liked.


ALL OF THIS was before any of the crew stepped on set. I saved a TON of time and aggravation by planning it all out ahead of time.


Preproduction has always been something I must do before anything I write/direct/produce. I cannot imagine doing without it.


It is either plan like crazy or get busy digging a hole.

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