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Film-making toolkit

Film-making can be a complicated process that involves the use of multiple people with differing skillsets. These guidelines will help you deliver to a successful film and maximise its potential by distributing it effectively.

There is a four-step process to making a film:

1. Pre-production

Step 1: Budget

Your budget will determine what is achievable, so identify this as early in the process as possible to inform the scale and ambition of the film you aim to create.

Step 2: Purpose

Identify what you want your finished film to do. What message do you want it to deliver? How do you want people to react?

Step 3: Schedule

Identify your deadline and work back from that, allowing enough time for each stage in production and distribution. During production, build in extra time for contingency between shoots.

Step 4: Filmmaker

Identify the people who have the skills to realise your vision and can deliver it within your budget.

Step 5: Storytelling

Storytelling is the most overlooked, yet most important aspect of creating a successful film. You should always plan a structured story to build your film around. In this way you'll be able to plan the scale, ambition and length of your film before it’s shot.

Use the story-building document (Word document, 200KB) to craft your story. From these documents you will have a film treatment – a document that will clearly identify to the filmmaker what it is you want to create.

The majority of films rely on interviews to tell their story. You should guide your interviewee with carefully crafted questions to draw out the message you want to convey. Producing a script, usually for a voiceover, would be part of this step too.

Step 6: Collaboration

Use the expertise and passion of the filmmaker or production company you’re working with to develop your script. They will advise how to tell your story visually and may create a shot list, storyboard or pre-visual animatic to aid production and post-production.

They will also identify the methods, techniques and technology they will employ while shooting your film.

Step 7: Location

Identify and arrange access to locations for filming and secure the use of any props.

Step 8: Casting

Good casting ensures the people you pick are good on camera and can convey the message you want to tell.

2. Production

The work you have carried out during the pre-production stage should prepare you and the filmmaker/production company for a relatively stress-free shoot.

Step 1: Be on the shoots

As you know the University better than anyone, your presence on the shoot is invaluable. Nine times out of ten you will be able to provide logistical solutions to any problems that might arise.

Step 2: Model release forms

Ensure everyone featured in the video signs a model release form, whether they are being interviewed or shot for a cutaway.

Step 3: Coverage/b-roll

Getting lots of cutaways (b-roll) or action/environment shots will make your film visually dynamic. Use your knowledge of the University and work collaboratively with the filmmaker and the subject to identify further scenarios or situations that can be shot. You can never have enough cutaways when editing in post-production.

3. Post-production

After working closely with the filmmaker/production company over the past two stages, there should be no surprises when it comes to crafting your final film.

Step 1: Editing

The editing process will be the most involved aspect of post-production. The editor will aim to create a union between the script you created in pre-production and the rushes shot during production.

The first draft you'll receive is the rough cut, and the last is the final film. There are two conclusions to an edit: the first when you are happy with the message being delivered and the second when you are happy with the accompanying visuals and sound.

Step 2: Music

Work with the editor to identify and buy the rights to the music you want to use as a backing track.

Companies such as The Music Bed or AudioJungle offer a great-sounding, professionally recorded, yet relatively cheap solution.

Step 3: Graphic and titles

Identify what titles and graphics you want to use prior to the edit. Keep everything brief and reduce facts down to keywords. Use the standard University opening titles, lower thirds and end credits for consistency.

4. Distribution and promotion

There’s no point going to the expense and effort of creating films if you haven’t got a plan in place to get it seen by as wide an audience as possible.

Step 1: Cross-pollination

Identify any other marketing collateral the film could sit alongside as part of a suite. In printed material, signpost people to watch the film via the use of augmented reality, QR codes or links.  Online, upload to a site like YouTube and then embed into content on websites and social media channels.

Step 2:Promotional materials

Build hype on social media prior to the launch of your film by teasing elements from it, whether it’s a great-looking still, or a ten-second soundbite from an interview. You can also use this when your film is released to visually signpost and entice people to watch your film.

Step 3: Closed captions (subtitles)

If you want your film to reach an even larger audience, consider getting a translator to transcribe the dialogue from your film into another language so you can upload subtitles.

Step 4: Multiple formats

As well as uploading your film online, make sure you have a file copy to hand for people to use on laptops or within presentations where an Internet connection is not available.

Filmmakers / production companies

We work closely with an approved set of filmmakers who understand our distinct cinematography and approach to storytelling.

If you decide to use a new supplier for film and video, please ensure they read the University's visual identity guidelines before starting a project.

Sharing and distribution

All film content created should be uploaded to a University YouTube channel. Once on YouTube the video can be easily shared and also embedded into websites and other social media channels. By embedding the YouTube video you will drive all viewing figures to your YouTube account. This not only builds your viewing figures but publicly endorses your videos popularity as viewing figures for native CMS videos uploads are usually hidden. 

YouTube also provides an effective hosting solution that ensures high quality and a high reliability of playback on nearly all devices compared to native CMS video uploads which can sometimes be incompatible or suffer from playback issues.

Videos can also be uploaded directly to your Facebook account to take advantage of features such as content recommendation, which gives preference to its own video player.

A file copy of the video should also be made available, though not necessarily publicly so that playback can take place where an internet connection is not available.

Contacts

The Division of Communication and Marketing’s Film and Imagery Coordinator, David Gennard, can offer guidance and support on the filmmaking process.