What’s a pre-production meeting?
A pre-production meeting, otherwise known as a pre-pro or PPM, is a crucial step in the production process, to ensure the brief and client expectations align with the Creator’s treatment and execution.
In other words, it’s a chat about the details to get everyone on the same page. And it can make or break your content by preventing costly mistakes.
The following guide will help you prepare and know what topics to cover in your PPM. There are no hard and fast rules here, some of the tips may be more important, or not relevant, for your particular production.
And of course, if there’s more you want to know, just add it to the agenda!
Who should you have in your PPM?
The Creative team will likely organise the PPM, and from their side should have in attendance anyone who will be core to the production including Director, Producer, Production Manager, etc.
From the client side, it helps to have key decision makers and anyone who will have day to day contact with the production.
When should you schedule your PPM?
You may choose to have more than one PPM, but the first could be considered the kick-off for the production.
The next PPM will be further down the line when you have more elements locked in, more detailed questions that need to be answered and decisions made about the shoot and post-production (editing/graphics) process. The final PPM should be at least 2 days before your shoot to give all stakeholders time to handle any actions.
What should you discuss in your (Kick-Off) PPM?
Below is a list of things which may need to be discussed in your first PPM. Note that not all will be relevant to your production – use it as an outline of an agenda that you can add to/remove from. It should help to provide a structure to your meeting.
- Recap of the idea/treatment. This is a great opportunity to iron out any nuances in the idea so everyone is aligned on the vision.
- The creative team may share draft scripts, storyboards and visual references.
- Recap on deliverables per the brief ensuring that the creative team are aware of all requirements for the production and content – when it comes to a shoot, no-one likes surprises!
Key Dates & Milestones:
- Discuss any key deadlines and payment milestones.
- Discuss if any clients will be attending the shoot so they can be considered in the planning of the shoot day/s.
- The creator will present an overview of the production and post-production schedule to fix/review the schedule and final delivery.
- The creative team will summarise notable people involved, including director/DOP and key crew.
- Are any special skills required (eg. food stylist, local fixer, translator, etc.), client spokespeople or ambassadors, etc.?
Talent Casting, wardrobe, hair & makeup and props:
- A discussion about the people who will be in the content, are they professional talent? Or real people? How will they be ‘cast’, and what (if anything) will they be paid?
- What kind of diversity should be represented in the casting?
- What is the decision making process to shortlist and confirm talent?
- You may also discuss initial wardrobe, hair and make-up references, any colours and styles to avoid (consider brand colours, cultural sensitivities, etc.).
- What props do you need for the shoot? Do you need to provide products, if so, how will they be incorporated/shot?
- Discuss planned locations and consider any requirements that could impact the schedule or cost.
Travel & logistics:
- What kind of travel logistics should be considered?
- Are there are any physical products that need to be shipped somewhere for shooting?
- Does accommodation need to be arranged? Who will be arranging it?
- This is an opportunity to align on colour grading, graphics, post-treatments, end frames, logos, etc.
- Do you need to provide your Creator with any files e.g. CGI of a brand/product/logo sequence?
Legals & Insurances:
- Align on all legal requirements to ensure no costly mistakes. Do you have any particular requirements for release forms and Insurances? Genero’s terms require the creator to have the following insurances, where applicable;
- General / Public & Product Liability – cover for personal injury and property damage to members of the public and other third parties such as clients, talent and suppliers (but it excludes employees and automobile accidents).
- Professional Indemnity / Media Liability / Errors & Omissions – cover for errors and omissions in regard to film production including unintentional unauthorised usage of copyrighted materials, characters, titles, formats, ideas, plots, various forms of plagiarism, and unfair competition, invasion of privacy, and defamation.
- Employer Liability – covers employees working on set.
- Weather: If required – eg. an outdoor shoot, or must shoot on specific days and can’t be rescheduled.
You’ve had your PPM, what now?
It helps to take accurate, detailed notes of each PPM and at Genero, we encourage our clients to upload those notes to the messaging chain in the Platform as an official, binding record and to ensure everyone is on the same page.
These notes and tasks can be revisited in regular catch-ups or the next PPM which might be held closer to the shoot.
At the end of your PPM, it’s best to discuss next steps and timings. Everyone should know what they have to do, and when.
Remember – the devil is in the details when it comes to your PPM.
There’s no such thing as too much detail and there are no silly questions. Nailing your PPM will avoid any potential headaches from the outset, and getting it right will go a long way towards a smooth production process.