Brainstorming, concepting, planning, and getting ready for your story to hit the screen. That’s what the pre-production phase of production/filmmaking is all about. Everything that gets done in the beginning can make or break the success of what is about to be created. Right here is where some of the most important decisions and influence is going to take place. All of this happens before you ever even pick up a camera.
Pre-Production for films and short films will include doing a script breakdown to understand what individual scenes will require while in production and post-production. This phase of production also includes making detailed storyboards so that when your crew is in the field, everyone will know exactly what to capture in-camera with the post-production needs in mind.
Pre-Production for documentaries and reality programs is a busy time of locking in good stories, booking on-camera talent, and doing critical research so that the entire team is prepared to go into production ready to make a deeply impacting project.
During the pre-pro phase in either genre, crews need to be locked in, locations need to be secured, and budgets need to be created.
Producers have overall control on every aspect of a project. They organize the cast, oversee the crew, choose the shooting location, and make sure that everyone working on the project is on the same page. A huge responsibility for the Producer is to foster an environment in which the creative talents of the cast and crew can flourish. Producers are therefore ultimately accountable for the success of the finished project. Producers are in charge of the budget and making sure that the money is used where it counts: on the screen! Producers must be good businessmen, strategists, motivators, negotiators, and creative visionaries, with the ability to spot and deal with potential problems before they materialize. In many ways, they are the brains behind the production. Many times they are the creative center and keeper of the vision for what is being made.
Associate Producers contribute greatly to the production process because they are responsible for specific elements delegated to them by the Producer. It is the A.P.‘s job to make needed things happen to realize the Producer’s vision. This diverse role may encompass brainstorming/development, supervising casting, wardrobe and make-up, supervising post-production, or coordinating the work of the various visual effects artists. In fact, they may carry out any production work (anything) that the Producer is too busy to supervise personally, and which is not covered by one of the other production roles (e.g. Executive Producer, Co-producer, etc.). Whatever their exact role, Associate Producers must be able to troubleshoot any production difficulties or problems that come within their area of responsibility. It is definitely the A.P.‘s responsibility to know everything about the production that they are handling.
As a Writer you will be crafting scripts for television, feature films, commercials, and episodic dramas. You will learn character development, story arc, and proper scripting formats. You will learn to write for different characters and in different voices. Everything that you write will be shown on television, at arena events, and in films. Writers provide a blueprint onto which the Producer, Director, Director of Photography, Composer and Editor, cast, and crew can graft their creative efforts. Writers must be able to craft a screenplay in which the reader can “see” the film unfold cinematically in their imagination. The screenplay must therefore not only have compelling characters, an exciting plot, and a great premise for a marketable project, but it must also conform to the basic and necessary principles of dramatic construction, as well as to industry expectations regarding format and style. Writers must “pen” highly creative writing, adhere to strict deadlines, and work constructively with other members of the production.
As a Director you will learn how to be a storyteller visually. You’ll be responsible for casting your vision and painting it onto the screen. The Director is the driving creative force in a film’s production, and acts as the crucial link between the production, technical, and creative teams. Directors are responsible for translating the film’s written script into actual images and sounds on the screen–he or she must visualize and define the style and structure of the film, then act as both a storyteller and team leader to bring this vision to reality. You’ll also become skilled at how to pull strengths out of the people you work with and get the best performance out of them.
Discover the world through the lens of a professional camera. Become skilled at how to use it to paint the screen. As a Director of Photography, see things through the use of creative angles and artistic composition.
In the field: Shoot scripted films, be part of a huge camera crew covering stadium events, learn to shoot documentaries, and work with some of today’s most popular Christian music artists.
In the studio: Shoot a weekly half-hour television program.
In all situations: Learn to shoot for the edit.
Create and light sets using a three-point lighting system with accessories including gels, gobos, flags, etc. Learn how to create the right atmosphere and mood using different colors, contrasting highlights, shadows, and patterns, and how to light a green screen for compositing. Apply lighting theory as you design lighting schemes for interviews, shoots on location, and ENG (Electronic News Gathering) field shooting.
In the field: Handle microphones, remote mixers, and manage the audio as it’s captured live in-camera for interviews, scripted shoots, sound FX, and live events.
In post: Learn to mix and sweeten on Pro Tools, then lay it back to video.
Also, engineer the recording of voice-over artists as they make projects come alive.
A Grip’s responsibility is to build and maintain all the equipment that supports cameras. This equipment, which includes tripods, dollies, tracks, jibs, cranes, and static rigs, is constructed of delicate yet heavy-duty parts requiring a high level of experience to operate and move. Every scene in a project is shot using one or more cameras, each mounted on complex, expensive, heavy–duty equipment. Grips assemble this equipment according to meticulous specifications and push, pull, mount, or hang it from a variety of settings. The equipment can be as basic as a tripod standing on a studio floor, or more hazardous operations such as mounting a camera on the jib. Grips work closely with the Director and the Director of Photography to ensure that all positioning or movement of cameras is achievable. Grips are usually responsible for pushing the dolly and must create smooth movements that do not distract from the onscreen action.
Gaffers are in charge of all the electrical work on a production, leading the team who install the lighting equipment and arrange the power supply in order to create the desired lighting effects. Gaffers work closely with the Director of Photography to visualize in a practical way the “look” they are trying to achieve. Gaffers help in the selection of the best lights and equipment for the production.
They must be able to suggest and interpret ideas, and develop a thorough knowledge of a wide range of equipment and of its operation. They position the equipment and operate the lights during the shoot. Gaffers need to be committed to completing the job, often in difficult circumstances.
Production Assistants are the backbone of any production team. They do whatever is needed, performing small but important tasks in the office, around the set, and on location. Their duties may involve anything from office administration to crowd control, from public relations to cleaning up locations. Production Assistants are assigned by the Producer and by other production staff, such as the Production Manager, to assist wherever they are needed on productions. Their responsibilities vary considerably, depending on where they are needed. Duties typically include: arranging lunches, dinners, and transportation, photocopying, general office administration, and distributing production paperwork. On-set duties typically include: acting as a courier, helping to keep the set clean and tidy, and distributing call sheets and other paperwork. On location shoots, Production Assistants may also be required to help to coordinate the extras, and to perform crowd control duties.
The Vault handles all tapes and media coming into and out of CCM. Those working in the vault know the location of all media relating to specific jobs at hand. They log new tapes and other media into and out of the library. They check that all media are labelled accurately and unambiguously. They must be able to read, understand, and generate to industry standards, the labels and documentation which accompany tapes and media. They also ensure that all relevant media is distributed to the appropriate personnel at the correct time and in suitable formats. They generate, update, and maintain up-to-date written and/or electronic records and databases of all media. They may be required to research the availability of archive footage, and order and monitor the delivery of relevant media from external sources. They monitor and order appropriate tape stock.
This is a critical area that affects every project that CCM makes.
Assistant Editors provide basic technical and practical support for Editors so that they can concentrate on the creative aspects of Post-Production. Assistant Editors also help with spotting and rectifying mistakes and omissions in the Post-Production process. Assistant Editors may carry out some simple cutting and editing work as required. They manage all media, which includes auto-conforming media, digitizing material for editing, ensuring that there is sufficient storage space for the work at hand, and controlling and monitoring the movement of material in preparation for editing. They are also responsible for logging and storing tapes, recording reports, and printing labels. They must understand compression, and be able to utilize Video Tape Recorders (VTR’s) in normal and abnormal settings.
Logging all footage that is shot is an indispensable part of the Post-Production process. Every clip of footage that comes in needs to be logged and described so that editors, producers, and others know what is available to make the story that everyone is envisioning. Being part of the team that knows about all footage that is available is to be a keeper of some of the most valuable knowledge. When logging is done correctly, it saves time and money, and allows every collaborator to know exactly what they have at their disposal to tell their story.
The way a story unfolds and grabs the attention of the audience is one of the most important elements in filmmaking. To ensure that the story flows effortlessly from beginning to end, each shot is carefully chosen and edited into a series of scenes, which are in turn assembled to create the finished film.
Edit using industry-standard Avid software—the same software used to edit most professionally edited movies and television today, including The Hobbit Trilogy, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Lincoln, and Silver Linings Playbook. Work on everything from short form narrative to promotional to reality documentary pieces.
Create dynamic motion graphics for multiple screens seen at huge arena events, as well as motion design and special effects for short films, TV series and specials, and music videos using the following software:
• After Effects
Build motion graphics that come alive! Animate entire scenes, music videos, or full short films. Use powerful, fully featured software like Maya, 3D Studio Max, or Cinema 4D to make your creations come to life. If you’re really pioneering, get into full character animation including rigging, textures, and layouts. Your capabilities and drive are what will dictate all that you will get out of your CCM experience.