Lesson #4-Preproduction in a Nutshell

Objectives and Goals- Why are we doing this and what should we learn?

  • Understand Jobs in the Film Industry
  • Collaboratively work together to create and refine a screenplay and see it through preproduction
  • Create an effective usable storyboard for production
  • Undertand the casting process for actors
  • Use proficient communication and design skills to conceive, develop, produce, edit, critique and revise multimedia projects that inform, educate or entertain while meeting accuracy, project and deadline requirements.
  • Compile an electronic multimedia portfolio of original work that includes a resume and a researched career plan focuses at current animation and film industry opportunities

Jobs in the Industry

Step 1- Warm Up (+200 points-Portfolio)

Begin by watching the  GI Joe Retaliation Trailer and then answer the questions below in a post in your portfolio.  If you can not view the link given, try the IMDB link to a collection of trailers by clicking here. 

    1. How many cast and crew do you think worked on GI Joe Retaliation?
    2. What was the budget for this film?
    3. How long did this film take to complete?
    4. Name one job that is necessary to create a film besides the actor, director, and producer?

Visit the imdb.com for GI Joe Retaliation and review jobs(careers) of the Cast and Crew.  For GI Joe Retaliation, it takes 25 pages to print the jobs of cast and crew.  According to the IMDB, the budget for this film was estimated at $135,000,000.  Preproduction began in January 2011 and production ended in November 2011. Post Production ended in 2012.

Continue with focus questions below.  Make sure you include the responses in your portfolio submission above.

    1. a.  What jobs of the cast and crew are you familiar with or what job would you like to know more information about?
    2. a.  How could you see your self working on this film?
    3.  a. What skills are necessary to earn a position on a film like GI Joe Retaliation?
    4. a.  Where do you study to learn the necessary skills?

Step 2-  Research on Jobs in the Industry (+100 points notes)

Visit the link below or use the flash file attached:


Take notes on each category capturing main ideas. The links in blue on the .html  are not mandatory. They are listed for optional research. Links are not present on the flash .swf file.

Step 3- Organizing Jobs in the Industry to the Production Cycle. (+200 points)

Use the Jobs in the Industry Part III worksheet and recreate this sheet on your own paper organizing jobs into a category of the production cycle. Jobs should be identified as preproduction (all the planning before beginning to shoot), production(during the actual shoot), and or post production(after the shoot).  SUBMIT THIS SHEET at the end of the period.

Step 4. Job Skills & Application (+500 points portfolio)

Part I.  Imagine you are just out of college and would like to find work in the film industry. Use the search engines of the websites below to see what kinds of jobs are available for film/video careers.  

Part II.  Then, create a post in your portfolio that includes the job you are applying for and a link to your resume that will be available via Google Documents. If you have not created a resume before, review how to write a resume here.  Remember, your resume should be no more than one page.

Part III.  Write a short 3-paragraph reflection about your overall experience going through this process.

Please remember that ALL labs including Jobs in the INDUSTRY must be completed by Friday November 22.  No late labs accepted.  No Late REFLECTIONS accepted. 

So What are We Shooting?

Step 1-  Select an Executive Producer

Create groups with 8-10 students.  Groups select an executive producer. This person will serve as a group leader and organizer to create their group’s short film.

Step 2- Access the Google Document

Create Google Document to plan film.

Always be professional on the internet. Everything they do in Google Drive is recorded by your keystroke, time , and name.

Step 3-  Subject 

  • Groups will begin this collaborative process by each student individually creating a synopsis (subject) and typing this synopsis under their name in the Google Document. (Page 2)
  • Once all students have submitted their subjects to the Google Document, students will vote on the subject they enjoy the most.  Each student is to place an X next to the name of their favorite chosen subject. Only vote once.
  • Executive Producer will declare the winning subject. Then, as a group, rewrite the subject for clarity and excitment. Make sure it contains character and action. (Page 3)

Step 4- Plan the Script together

  • Complete the Freytag Story Pyramid Graphic Organizer and the information for Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3.
  • List the name of all characters and a short description of the character along with their background.  Create a character profile for each character.
  • Complete Deconstruction of Character worksheet on Deconstruction of Protagonist.

Step 5- Write the Script

Students select a character and begin writing dialogue while students act out scenes keeping character objectives and obstacles in mind.  Remind them to show and not tell.  Complete the screenwriting process together to create one script that is 5-10 pages using Celtx.  Use your story structure as a guide. Submit your script to Google Documents as a .pdf and a .celtx, share them, and then link these files to the preproduction group document.

Rewrite, Yes!  Again!

You will use Celtx, The Freytag Model, and Deconstruction of Character, and dialogue techniques to rewrite the script.

Step 1. Groups will trade scripts between groups to read and review.

Step 2. After reading, create a round robin by handing out Round Robin Sheets(exposition sheet, inciting incident,rising action sheet, climax, falling action, resolution, character objective, character obstacles, and how character evolves) to at least one person in group.  Depending on group size, students may work alone or with a partner.

For example, I receive a sheet of paper that is titled exposition.  After reading the script from a different group, I write down what I believe is the exposition revealed in the script.  I then pass the exposition sheet to the person on the left and they do the same writing their ideas of exposition below my ideas.  In the meantime, I have received a sheet titled rising action and the process continues.

The round robin will continue until all group members have provided input and all structure and character sheets are complete.

Step 3. All round robin sheets with feedback will be given to original group. Group will review data and then determine rewrites as needed.

Submit the rewrite to Google Drive. Share this file making it visible for anyone with the link.  Then, link this file to your preproduction package.

Casting and Interviewing

Step 1- Casting and Interviewing Student Directions Handout.

Step 2-Application for Key Crew Positions

Students are working in separate groups.  Begin with every student, besides the Executive Producer, submitting their Application for Key Editor, Cinematographer, and Director to the Executive Producer via email.  The sample application can be found here. 

After students submit their applications, the executive producer is to review the applications and hire a Key Editor, Cinematographer, and Director. This entire process should take at most 40 minutes.

Step 3-Introduction to the Acting

Begin by watching the following videos on Acting:

After watching the videos, write a 2-paragraph reflection discussing any experiences you have had with acting, how you define good acting (what are the qualities/characteristics of great actors), and other questions.

Step 5- Auditions for Actors

With the executive producer, cinematographer, editor, and director, choose sides from the script for actors to read.  Everyone besides the cinematographer, director, editor, and producer will audition for character roles.  Pair students as needed and allow students time to work on scenes with partners. After receiving the script, work with your partner(s) until you are called to audition.

Ivanna’s 12 Step Review

Obtain a copy of Ivana Chubbucks 12 Steps or use the link below.  Review the 12 steps and then work with partner on the scene.

Call students into classroom to audition.  Encourage the director to give direction where needed. After hearing all students read, have callbacks and then hire your actors according to performance on audition.

Assignment of all other positions

Assign other duties of the crew to team members.

Update cast and crew on Production Google Document. 

Note! – Please download flash instructional videos to hard drive before playing for optimal viewing.

Storyboarding and Shot List

Begin by watching the AFI film on Storyboarding.  Review camera shots, angles, pov, and movement  with students.

Example of Storyboard

Finding Nemo- Making of and Importance of Storyboard!

Finding Nemo

Storyboard Reverse

Pass out Storyboard Reverse Worksheet.

Watch the first 1-minute of a short film.  Then create a storyboard to match each shot. Make sure you include each shot to tell the story accurately.

After students recreate the storyboards, have them respond to the questions below.

Analyze your storyboard.

  • How many shots did it take to create one minute of film?
  • Why do you believe the director chose these shots to best represent the scene?
  • Do you believe these shots were effective?  Why or why not?

For a list of recent Oscar nominated shorts, visit this link. Our students used the short Curfew (2013).

Storyboarding Activity-

Pass out individual scenes or assign scenes for students to create storyboards.  Students are allowed 20 minutes to create at least 20 shots for their scene.  Shots must include Camera Shot, Angle, and POV as well as beginning dialogue.  Use the Storyboard Template for Story in the resources below.

After 20 mintues, students will join other students who share the same scene and collaborate to make an 18X 20 story board for their scene.  When this project is complete, each scene will have its own storyboard to be used during production.

Scan these images to your computers hard drive and add them to your .Celtx file making a digital storyboard.

Review the .swf file on Using Celtx for Preproduction in the resources panel below.

Shot list-

After Storyboards are created, producer, director, cinematographer, and editor must review storyboards and refine shots.  Lastly, create a shot list which will consist of the order scenes will be shot.


Submit storyboards and shot list to the Google Docs Preproduction file.  Then complete the remaining lists in that file.


Email your instructor when all lists are complete to set up a meeting.  Meet with instructor to review your preproduction package to get approval to enter the production phase of filmmaking. 

Note! – Please download flash instructional videos to hard drive before playing for optimal viewing.


Rubric for Preproduction Package


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