Ok, one more diagram from this year’s San Antonio Film Academy. I gave a lecture on pre-production planning as it relates to live TV, documentary production, and feature films by describing the logistics needed for a number of hypothetical projects. Since most of the attendees were primarily interested in feature films (74% according to audience polling), we spent the most time on this chart:
If I was given the funds to greenlight a pre-existing script, and we planned to make a medium-budget, average film, the schedule would probably look something like this. Obviously, for simpler projects, less time would be needed; a smaller budget would mean less legal and financial work; a smaller cast would mean less time casting and rehearsing, and fewer locations would mean less scouting and set construction.
However, the 4:1 ratio of pre-production to principle photography is what I feel comfortable with for dramatic (feature or short) productions. In my experience, it usually gives enough time to plan out everything needed. Of course, we could compress the pre-production schedule drastically, and then take a longer, very loose, improvisational, unscheduled approach to actual production, but this inevitably ends up being far more expensive in the long run and produces an inferior product. Always plan us much as you can as far ahead as possible.