When a studio film receives a greenlight for production, it means the studio has committed to spending the necessary funds to shoot the film; or in the independent world, it indicates that production financing has been secured. At this point, the next phase in the life of a screenplay begins. This phase is called pre-production or ‘prep’ for short. The prep period is the period when the filmmakers begin researching how to actually mount the production: where to shoot, how much it will cost, and which crew members to hire. If the prep period is used wisely and effectively, the principal photography phase has a much better chance of proceeding smoothly. When the prep period is wasted and time is not used effectively and efficiently, a production may face many costly delays and conflicts.
The number of weeks necessary to effectively prep a film for photography is driven by a number of factors:
• the physical needs as detailed in the screenplay
• the budget of the production
• the director’s ability to make decisions
• the available locations