Do This Before You Start Any Film Project

Filmmaking is a collaborative effort. It's important to find a group of equally passionate and talented individuals to buy in to your particular vision and to see the project through from start to finish. This requires that you be a strong communicator. In addition...

  • You have to be passionate.
  • You have to be energetic.
  • You have to be knowledgeable.
  • You have to be prepared.
  • You have to be clear.
  • You have to be confident.
  • You have to be organized.

Without any of the above qualities, you will find it difficult for others to get excited about your idea. 

In my work as a video shooter/editor for a large non-profit, every video produced has to be strategically planned. We have to answer several questions about the video during the development stage so that everyone understands why the video is being produced, and how it will be used once complete.

With that in mind, here's what I normally include in my proposals, whether I'm developing a video project for St. Jude, or a non-fiction independent film.

  1. SYNOPSIS - Give a brief, one or two-sentence overview of what the project is.
  2. RATIONALE - What's the need? Why are you making this film?
  3. OBJECTIVE - What goals are you trying to meet by producing the film?
  4. SETTING - Describe where the film will take place. What's meaningful about it?
  5. STYLE - What is your creative vision for the film? How will it look and feel?
  6. CHARACTERS - Provide an overview of the people you will highlight throughout your story and why viewers will care about them.
  7. TIMELINE - Give a general overview of the full production schedule. No need to break it down into days and weeks. Give the reader a 30,000-foot view.
  8. PRODUCTION NEEDS - Does the production team have any special needs or requirements? Are there any major hurdles that need to be jumped? Giving people a sense of potential problems that may occur will help you find solutions and work-arounds before they become major problems.

What have your experiences been in writing and presenting creative proposals for film projects? Leave your tips in the comments section below.