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So you want to make a movie! Let’s say you’ve already written a screenplay
you want to shoot, or found a story you’d like to adapt. Or maybe you just have an idea that you think
would make a good film. What’s next? There are a few steps you should take to sharpen
your idea and get all the pieces into place to make production go as smoothly as possible. Most filmmakers go through this process one
way or another, whether you’re making a big-time studio blockbuster or a no-budget
indie with your friends. It all begins with an awesome pitch. [Opening Music Plays] A pitch is a brief, verbal description of a project you’d like to make. It’s supposed to be persuasive: You’re
trying to get people excited about your idea, usually because you need their help. We pitch things all the time. Kids try to persuade their parents to buy
them a dog or a car. Employees make a case to get a promotion or
a raise. And people try to convince their friends to
see the new Superman movie. But in addition to getting people on board
with your project, a pitch can be a great way to help you figure out if your story works
in the first place. Is the concept compelling? Is the climax satisfying? Do the characters feel real and three-dimensional? By gauging someone’s response, you might
decide to alter the plot, or re-think the entire film. And you can pitch an idea to just about anyone! The late screenwriter, author, and educator
Blake Snyder suggested telling your film idea to as many strangers as possible – bank
tellers, Uber drivers, the person waiting in line behind you at the grocery store. He believed that you’d get a more honest
reaction by pitching your story to someone you don’t know. Your mom might love whatever you tell her. The woman sitting next to you on the plane? Not so much. On the other hand, sometimes you might need a little encouragement. And even if your parents and friends don’t
give you honest critical feedback, the act of telling your story out loud can help you
understand it better. A lot of filmmakers even pitch their movie
ideas to themselves: in the shower, in the car, or pacing around a room while talking
to their cat. Bottom line is, stories get better the more
you tell them. You can identify the pieces that work and
figure out weaknesses before you start producing anything. On the practical side, a pitch can get you
thinking about the resources you’ll need to bring your story to the screen, and help
get your film made. Screenwriters might pitch an idea to a producer
or a studio executive, in hopes that person will pay them to write the script. Directors might pitch a project to a studio
or an investor to raise money to shoot it. And filmmakers often pitch their movies to
well-known actors, hoping to persuade them to star in the film. Developing a pitch can also help you ballpark
your film’s budget. Not just in terms of money, but also how much
time it will take, how big a crew you’ll need, and what sort of special effects or
extra equipment you’ll require. So how do you craft a movie pitch?Well, there’s
not a single formula, but there are a few ingredients that most good pitches have. First of all, you should deliver your pitch
with excitement and confidence. You want your passion for your movie to be
infectious, and you want whoever’s listening to believe you can pull it off. Second, you might compare your film to other
successful movies that explore similar worlds or have similar tones. We call these comparisons, or comps for short. Like, you might pitch The Martian as Cast
Away on Mars. Or maybe The Edge of Tomorrow as Groundhog
Day by way of Independence Day. Comps aren’t meant to limit your story or
make it seem like a copy of something else. The goal is to convey the scope, genre, and
tone of your film. Another thing most pitches include is a logline. This is a one-sentence summary of your movie
that includes the genre, a description of the protagonist, and a concise outline of
the plot. The logline for Jaws, for instance, might
go something like this: when a killer shark starts eating members
of a tourist beach town, the new chief of police must overcome his fear of the water
to save his community. Next, your pitch should include some information
about the characters and story. This isn’t a painstaking scene-by-scene
description – just the main plot points, key character moments, and enough of the emotional
arc to communicate why the story matters. Some pitches can include visual aids: posters,
photographs, or even pre-designed trailers. These work best when the film is set in another
time or place, like fantasy or science-fiction movies that need a lot of world-building. Your pitch could also suggest some casting
ideas. Would Reese Witherspoon be great for your
satirical comedy? Is your gritty noir perfect for a brooding
Idris Elba type? Even if you don’t expect to have A-list
actors in your film, it can give your listener a clearer idea of what the movie will look
and feel like. Plus, you never know. Lucy Liu might be their second cousin! Finally, the pitch should tell us who you
think will watch the film. How big is the potential audience? What kind of resources will you need to market
and distribute it? Is it a short film that you hope to screen
at film festivals, or a blockbuster that will open in two thousand theaters? Preparing a pitch that covers all these points
can improve your chances of getting your movie made, while also making the story clearer
and stronger. Now, let’s say you’ve honed your pitch,
written your script, and collected all the resources you need to make the film. Next, you have to get ready to shoot it. We call this part of the process pre-production. It’s the unglamorous work of making all
the creative decisions and logistical plans you can before the cameras start to roll. Depending on the size and scale of your film,
there are hundreds or even thousands of choices to make. During pre-production, you’ll cast your
film. Whether you’re convincing family and friends
to act for you, or working with a casting director and watching audition tapes, you’ll
need a person to play every character. That includes lead actors, supporting actors,
and background actors to be extras – pedestrians on the street, diners at a restaurant, or
fans at a baseball game. You’ll also need to assemble your crew. These are the artists, technicians, and craftspeople
who will physically make the movie, from a cinematographer to oversee the camera department,
to an assistant director to make sure you’re staying on schedule and on budget. There are a ton of people that can be a
part of the crew, and we’ll talk about all these roles in more detail in later episodes. And besides assembling a dream team of people,
you’ll also need to establish the look of the film. You have to figure out things like the color
scheme, the lighting plan, and when it takes place. To tell your story, will you need unique props
or costumes? Are there special effects involved, and how
do you need to plan for those during the actual shoot? You’ll also need to find and secure all
of your locations during pre-production – whether you need to build futuristic spaceship sets,
or if you can just shoot in your mom’s basement. And that’s only a fraction of the questions
you should be considering: Does your lead actor need a dialect coach
to learn a Dutch accent? Do you need a stunt coordinator to plan your
big action sequence? How many sandwiches will you need to order on day three to feed your cast and crew? Pre-production can be an exhausting process,
but also an exhilarating one. Even though you haven’t shot a single frame
yet, you’re already making your movie! And one of your biggest assets while making
all these decisions is that screenplay you’ve polished to perfection. Either you or your line producer will do a
breakdown of the script. This is essentially a big list of every character,
location, prop, costume, vehicle, and any special needs of your film. If you’re doing this on your own, a handy
trick is to take a highlighter and mark every single noun in your script. That way, you can make sure you’ve accounted
for all the things you need to gather to make your film, no matter how incidental they
may be. Once you have a breakdown, you can figure
out the film’s shooting schedule, which details what scenes you’re going to film
and when. Like, let’s say you’re making a movie
based on the board game Clue.Armed with the breakdown and shooting schedule, you’ll
know things like: on day five, you’re going to be shooting Scene 14. You should plan out when and where the cast
and crew are expected to arrive on set, down to details like meal breaks and transportations
times. You’ll need most of your leading actors:
Colonel Mustard, Mrs. Peacock, Mrs. White, and Mr. Boddy. You’ll need your actors to be fully costumed,
and you’ll also need some props: a candlestick, a lead pipe, and a knife. You’ll need some fake blood too, because
this is the scene where Mr. Boddy’s been stabbed. And it all takes place in the “Study”
location, so that needs to be ready to go too. Now, all this information will be compiled
into a call sheet. This is a document given to every member of
the cast and crew before the next shooting day, so they have everything they need to
get prepared to work. Call sheets also include a weather forecast
for each location, times for sunrise and sunset, the addresses of nearby emergency services,
and maps from the set to things like the hair and makeup trailer or the restrooms. Finally, call sheets have contact information
for nearly everybody in the crew. This comprehensive document is a culmination
of all the work of pre-production. Armed with it, you’re finally ready to get
down to business and make your movie! Today we talked about what goes into a movie
pitch and who you might share it with. We learned the basic steps of pre-production,
from assembling your crew to building your schedule, to best set you up to start making
your film. And next time, we’ll visit the set and explore
what the crew actually does once the cameras start rolling. Crash Course Film Production is produced in
association with PBS Digital Studios. You can head over to their channel to check
out a playlist of their latest amazing shows, like PBS Idea Channel, Indy America, and Gross
Science. This episode of Crash Course was filmed in
the Doctor Cheryl C. Kinney Crash Course Studio with the help of these nice people and our
amazing graphics team, is Thought Cafe.

100 thoughts on “Pitching and Pre-Production: Crash Course Film Production #2

  1. Thank you for your great courses. Loved this and History of Film and I hope you do more film related courses in the future. Just a note that in some productions, Especially in indie films, it's the first assistant director (First AD)'s job to do the screenplay breakdown. Thanks again, best wishes form Iran.

  2. oh gosh. I knew that a lot of work goes into making films but my goodness I didn't realise it's that much. Shoutout to everyone who does this

  3. I heard for movies/shows where there's a big reveal the call sheet might be intentionally incomplete. Certain cast members left off. In case someone leaks the sheet. Can they make cast/crew sign for the call sheet as well?

  4. Ok Lily, you got me. You're just as good as Craig, good job!

    But John Green is always the best. Nobody can beat John Green.🏇 <—(This is a mongol riding a horse)

  5. You can start by telling the story to yourself, too—out loud—reread dialog—out loud—jump about—see, hear, whether pieces stand alone arcking to the rest of the story… 'til the story flows right—because, if that, doesn't work, you'll lose sober audiences taking tangents you didn't mean, developing ideas you didn't fill out, multitasking their friends sitting there….

  6. Hey guys Ive been working on this channel with my best friend and we are making content about history and currently we are going to upload a history of college football and we are working on a history of Islam series would appreciate it if you check the channel out and have a good day

  7. Damn, this is interesting. It's, like, something I was slightly interested in when I sometimes watch credits (like, "What the heck's a Best Boy or a Key Grip?"), but I didn't know it was EXTREMELY interesting until I started watching this. Good call, Crash Course.

  8. I couldn't find part 3 of the video. If it is not up yet, when will part 3 come out.
    Also, do you think someone studying and working in computer science and data science could pursue career in film making?

  9. This series is awesome! My dream is to be a writer and producer, maybe even direct. its super informative and is exactly what I needed!

  10. Would be nice to hear about the factors that determine the order in which scenes are shot. Mostly I suspect this is determined by the sets or locations.

  11. One tip: ALWAYS TAKE CARE OF YOUR CREW. feed them. If it's cold have tea ready, if it's hot, cold water. Always have crisps with you.

  12. You guys should do a video for aspiring filmmakers on where and how to go about pitching their idea. Maybe provide us with more details on how to get a hold of studios in order to pitch your idea.

  13. Isn't storyboarding (previsualization) an aspect of pre-production as well? That is when all the camera angles drawn out shot for shot.

  14. PLEASE use a de-esser. I completely understand that sharp s's are normal and fine, but in a recording they are SO sharp and are causing me physical pain.

    I really, REALLY love watching these series, but I can't handle the sound, it just hurts too much.

  15. I knew that films are complicated to make but it's dizzying to learn about just how many people are involved and all the things they need to keep track of. Knowing this, I can definitely see how different members of the cast and crew can get very different impressions of the film they are making, if they're involved in completely unrelated locations or stages of production.

  16. Will we also learn the responsibilities of the main people involved in making the film Like for Example what is the job of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Assistant Director in particular? etc etc

  17. You talk about a director making a pitch and a film maker making a pitch. What is the distinction between a director and a film maker?

  18. I wrote an outline of a movie script that's mostly about the process of pitching that movie itself, and also about time travel because reasons.

  19. Pitching is the easy part. Learning from experience, pre-production is the single hardest part of the process.

  20. The post-it with the A + B = Idea thing is beautiful. I almost made a student film based on a napkin that said Jurassic Cop on it.

  21. O.M.G! Thats Crazy and this has been done with the millions of movies out there…WOW damn!

  22. This is very interesting. I like how clearly and calmly you explain it. I've always wondered about what went into making a movie. Thanks!

  23. Man the way you ask "So, you wanna make a movie" with those charming eyes sounds like the inciting incident for a super kooky movie where an energetic girl drags an apathetic guy into producing a movie, because she wants to break out of her comfort zone and he is having anxiety issues that need to be resolved.

  24. I'm enjoying this series…very informative. But I ran across theft problems with some of the best in the business. I was told they are bigger than me and can steal whatever they want which is exactly what they did. It's a Catch 22 in Hollywood…
    Writers need a better way to protect their work. For future scripts I'm using them as the blueprint for a book and putting an ISBN on them and building a website to promote using social media. This way I make some money back and my stories build an audience which is better evidence than they said, I said.

  25. Film directing is my long term goal . I want to make my own movies. I want to meet Steven Spieldberg, John Waters, Ava Duvernay, Tyler Perry, Spike Lee, & Lee Daniels. I want to learn more about film directing, executive producer, & more I need to get into Film , I need to go to Film Festivals I never been to one

  26. Take camera invent twirled plot !and go it is excuses money … expensive lenses cameras …main thing IDEA and Bueteful Women!!!

  27. Hollywood producers NEED to take this crash course, LOL. There is really no excuse for making flops these days. From the pitch to the script to shooting the first few scenes, there are many stages where you can identify a flop before it goes too far.

  28. The shooting schedule @6:30 says Ones/Twos in a column. Does this refer to the shot being a "one" shot or a "two" shot? Or is this about something else?

  29. If your film is not already copyrighted, then telling it to people on the street is not a good idea.

  30. As someone who went to school for finance, I was exposed to almost 0 fine arts anything. I decided post-graduation to rectify that, and have worked my way through about 90% of all the Crash Course videos.

    This one was one of my favorite, as I got to see the technical job details for a very foreign field.

  31. Very interesting! I would also mention that breaking down the script should be one of the first steps to figuring out the budget for your film and from there tailoring the script should you need to lower the budget. It's helpful to know approximately how much you estimate the film will cost to make when pitching the idea to others.

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