Pre-production is tough. I’ll be the first to admit it, grabbing your camera and jumping straight into filming not only feels natural, but is also an extremely easy thing to do. Unfortunately the end result normally speaks for itself, when you’re left with a video that is at best sub-par. Some of the most successful things we do in life are normally strategically planned and intentionally executed. Your videos should be no different. Though you may “wing it” and produce decent results from time to time, chances are that you will be disappointed and have to spend more time re-shooting / re-editing, or even worse, re-doing the whole project.

Here are a few things you should do before jumping into any project:

  1. Short Discovery: Who is your audience, and what is your message? How long should the final video be? Where will you be filming? Do you have permission to be filming in that location? What style of video are you going for? Will there be interviews? These are just a few of the MANY questions that must be addressed before even considering turning on your camera.

  2. Create a Shot List: So you’re back from filming and hand off the footage to your video editor. As they sort through your footage, they realize you forgot an important shot or two. It’s happened to almost everyone, but it doesn’t have to become a habit. Writing a down a simple checklist of shots that are necessary may not only save you time, but your editor will be extremely thankful you did so.

  3. Visit all Locations Beforehand: Every location you shoot at is extremely unique and brings forth its own set of challenges. Whether it be bad lighting, excessive noise, or lack of space, these are not things you want to learn about on the day of your shoot. Going to a location and snapping a few pictures and even taking some quick video will help you determine if it is suitable for your project, and if so, what equipment you may need to solve any issues.

  4. Create a Rough Script: Scripting your video will ensure you have captured all the necessary content from your talent, as well as work as an aid along side of your shot list to ensure you don’t forget any important shots.

  5. Evaluate if you Have all the Necessary Equipment: After completing all the tasks above, you will have a better idea of what equipment you may need to successfully film your project. For example, if you know you’re shooting a sit down interview, it may be wise to come prepared with at least two cameras, one for a wider shot and the other for a close up angle, this way you know that you have two shots you can cut between during editing. The last thing you want is to show up to your shoot unequipped with the proper tools to get the job done.

Going through these simple steps in pre-production will help ensure that fewer mistakes are made, as well as help increase the production value of your video tremendously. Save yourself lots of time, and potentially money, by not skipping straight to production, but focusing in on the details of your project. I can promise, you’ll never regret doing so.


This blog is part of an ongoing series that will give you short tips and tricks to help take your videos to the next level. This series is intended for beginners and enthusiasts, so I will try my best to explain topics clearly, without getting deep into technical details. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at sam@activelamp.com and I will gladly help answer any questions you may have!