Sample Pre-Production Studio Feature Schedule

Below is a sample pre-production schedule for a small to medium-sized, character and story driven motion picture being financed by a film studio. It represents a standard by which most simple, easily-executed films are prepared. More complex films — those whose screenplays may dictate heavy visual effects, international locales, multiple-city locations, period settings, pre-recorded musical sequences, accelerated release dates, and other factors — usually require lengthier pre-production schedules (12-26 weeks and sometimes longer).

At this point, the budgeting, scheduling, staffing and location scouting of the production are conducted. At the same time, all key crew deals, equipment rentals and location agreements are negotiated with the goal being to insure that the budget of the film is not exceeded.

The Line Producer, Unit Production Manager and 1st Assistant Director will prepare a number of shooting schedules and budgets for the film, with input from the Director. This will give the creative team an idea of how the picture can be made and at what cost. The director and producers will discuss various ways of lowering the budget without sacrificing the artistic integrity of the project. The goal here is to bring the “appetite” (the creative team’s scope and vision of the film in terms of dollars) in line with the budgetary agreement for producing the film.

• Open production office (on-site office of director, producers, & crew)
• Start producer(s)
• Start director
• Start casting director
• Start location manager
• Start assistant location manager
• Start unit production manager (UPM)
• Start production coordinator
• Start production office production assistant (PA) #1
• Start production accountant
• Start production designer or art director

• Start set designer
• Book tentative dubbing, looping & scoring dates

• Start assistant production accountant
• Start costume designer
• Start set decorator
• 1st location scout with director, producers, UPM, location manager, production designer (may be called a ‘tech scout’ or ‘recce’)

• Principal locations meeting (called a ‘show and tell’)
• Blueprints meeting with model/illustrations
• Review of budget meeting
• Legal/insurance meeting
• Shipping meeting (if location shoot)

• Start 1st assistant director (1st AD)
• Start men’s & women’s costumer
• Start leadman (key assistant to the set decorator)
• Start prop master
• Start construction coordinator
• Start transportation coordinator
• Lock major locations
• Declaration of cast insurance (start cast medical examinations)

• Start director of photography (DP) for 1 wk prep prior to permanent hiring
• Get equipment bids (camera/grip/electric)
• Final budget review by each department
• Begin set construction

• Start 2nd AD
• Start production office secretary
• Start production office PA #2
• Start assistant prop master
• Start special effects (SPFX)) supervisor
• 2nd location scout (add DP)
• Finalize script
• Finalize cast
• Finalize in writing hotel arrangements, including rates and blocks of space

• Start script supervisor
• Start swing gang, (responsible for set furnishings)
• Finalize (‘lock in’) cast deals
• Shoot screen tests (depending on type of show)
• 2nd presentation of show and tell of principal locations (if necessary)

• Start cast rehearsals
• Start stunt coordinator
• Start key makeup artist
• Start key hairstylist
• Start DP exclusively
• Start 1st assistant cameraman
• Start gaffer (chief lighting technician)
• Start key grip (chief set operations technician)
• Start transportation captain
• Final approval of budget
• Final location scout (‘Tech Scout’)
• Unit production meeting
• Makeup, hair & wardrobe tests

• Continue cast rehearsals
• Additional makeup/hair/wardrobe tests (if necessary)
• Load trucks
• Ship equipment
• Start remaining crew:
o Set production assistant (pa)
o Best boy electrician
o Additional makeup artist
o Lamp operator
o Additional hairstylist
o Best boy grip
o Camera operator
o Dolly grip
o Second assistant cameraman
o Second company grip
o Stills photographer
o Editor
o Sound mixer
o First assistant director
o Boom operator
o Apprentice editor
o Utility cable man