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Pre-Production Tasks for the Digital Video Producer

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/1/2011

The pre-production of a digital video is the main planning phase, and this is really where the producer asserts their authority over the production. Learn about some key tasks the producer does to coordinate pre-production.

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    The Dungeon Master

    A producer’s responsibility on a film starts well before a film begins primary photography. Since the producer is the grand overseer of the entire film or video project they need to be working on it from the very first moments of an idea. During pre-production there are a number of activities that a producer often takes under their wing.

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    Idea

    The basic idea for the film is often proposed or orchestrated by the producer. This is not to say that it is necessarily of their own creative mind, but that they sought it out or were sought out by its creators. Then he or she presents it to financiers, studios, or distributors to get the green light. It is at that point the producer is in control, making hiring decisions and changes to the script or treatment. Securing all rights, deals, and options that are needed are up to the producer.

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    Development

    From here he oversees how the project begins to be developed. If a script is not already written for the idea then the producer will hire a screenwriter. A director must be selected if one has not been already, and from here the rest of the positions as well. As the creative team begins working on the film preparation the producer oversees it and makes sure it stays within the vision that they sold to financiers.

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    The Business of Digital Video Filmmaking

    The producer is often considered more a business position, and much of this characterization comes from their preparation of the budget and schedule in pre-production. Once the director, art department, and photography department have worked out a creative vision then it is up to the producer to make most of the practical decisions to make it work. They do hire out much of this work, but they still have to oversee and coordinate all subordinates that make decisions. Money, locations, financial and legal documents, and many other the other realistic considerations are a responsibility of the producer’s office. Much of this gets farmed out by the producer to positions like the unit production manager, the line producer, and the office staff.

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    Approval

    All schedules, shooting scripts, and other creative plans for production must be approved by the producer before you enter production. With this the producer hopes to set the tone and expectations for the rest of the production and distribution cycle.