Writing a production brief by Edward Lui

When a client contacts us with an idea or project they want to bring to life, one of the first things we suggest is to sit down, grab a cuppa and come up with a detailed brief and overview to ensure that we both share the same vision and requirements for the project in question. A detailed brief will help us to tailor the ideas to suit your required brief. It will also help you to bring all the relevant information together so that the final film becomes more easily defined.

"Preparation is the key to success."

Below you will find a guide on what to include and consider for your brief.

Deciding on the length of a film or a video will depend upon many factors and will include: the budget available, how the film or video will be used, who is the target audience along with the type featured content and possible story. We can advise you on appropriate durations for your project.

A good starting point can be to identify films and video styles that you like.

Filmmaking can be broken down into three main stages

1. Pre-production and writing a brief

Developing ideas, identifying the story and locations and planning for filming. If your film uses actors or models, you may need to work with your filmmaker to develop a script, a storyboard and to organise a casting session.

2. Production

Live action filming and creating any complex graphics/animations created/music compositions if required.

3. Post-production

Creating the narrative with editing, applying text and effects, sound mixing, colour grading, sign-off and delivery.

The pre-production brief

What is the purpose of making your film?

This could include: to improve funding; promote engagement for a specific project; to sell a product or service or to raise awareness of a project or cause.

How might the film or videos be used?

  • Will you be using the film as part of a social media marketing campaign or as part of a wider marketing strategy with advertising?
  • Will the film be shown at meetings and presentations using a computer or projector?
  • Are you sending the film out as part of a mail drop on a pen drive or Blu-Ray/DVD?
  • Will you be delivering the film to any specific media channels or online e.g. YouTube?
  • Will it required to be in a specific resolution e.g. 4K (requirement for Netflix)
  • Will the film be uploaded onto your website?
  • Have you considered if the film could be suitable for a film festival?

Answering these questions will ensure your film will be suitable for the uses for which you commissioned it.

Writing the pre-production brief

Summary

If your brief is more than a few pages long, consider writing a brief overview at the start to summarise the whole project.

Background

Is there any background information on the project or film that could help us better understand the project and your requirements?

The Brief

Describe the film’s content as you envisage it

What is the target audience? What are the key messages? Do you have any specific filming requirements? Are locations known and/or fixed? Will you be using a location site, require a suitable hired studio or will you be filming at your place of work?

Outputs

How is the content to be delivered? What is the duration and technical spec? Refer to any specific standards for guidance. Do you also require a copy of the complete set of raw footage delivered at the end?

Timeline

List any key briefing, filming or delivery dates. Is there a schedule for the films completion or specific filming dates? Target key activities and events that you require filming.

Budget

Is there a fixed budget or are you asking for quotes? List what is your budget or budget range and what it does/or does not include. For example, does it include studio hire, extra crew, music licensing, and crew food and travel expenses or will these be added as extras as required?

Pitch

You might ask us to present a pitch for the creation of your film. A pitch is a form of words used when trying to persuade someone to buy or accept something. Ideally, you should detail what you are looking for in a pitch to be submitted i.e. a description of the proposed work; a production schedule; a summary of relevant experience and technical knowledge required; examples of similar work and a breakdown of costs. It could also be helpful to add your evaluation criteria if you are asking more than one person to pitch for the one job.

Useful Information

The more information you can provide, the better we will gain from the brief therefore delivering a more targeted film. If you have specific thoughts about what you don’t want then you could write them here, as that would help us to propose alternative ideas.

To Finish

Spending time thinking about your film and developing your ideas into an outline brief ahead of filming will make sure that you end up with the film that will meet your requirements. It will also help your filmmaker deliver the project to your brief and budget as well as being technically and creatively correct for its future uses.

If you have any questions or would like advice on anything regarding your video production or post-production please do drop us a message.

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