Now that you've tested your gear and you've got an idea for your story, it's time to come up with a plan or "framework" for your shoot. What to Shoot—is the focus of this section, after all.
So far, you've come up with a story idea or theme for your short film, documentary, or vlog series. That's a great start. However, getting into the details of each story will take at least a little effort in the form of turning your ideas into words on a page.
For filmmakers, the best way to turn story ideas into words on a page is to come up with a story structure, write a screenplay or create an A/V script, then, in many cases, create a storyboard to help prepare and realize each scene. Preparation of these items will help guide your shoot to success.
You can create a story from one of the story ideas you have made in the last step. Once a fully realized story is created and divided into scenes, you can transfer those story ideas to either a narrative screenplay or an A/V screenplay. All stories have very similar components. At a minimum, stories have three parts. To learn more, see this page.
Writing a Screenplay or A/V 2 Column Script
The screenplay is the single most important creative element of a motion picture.
For those crafting short films or narratives, a screenplay can help you construct the needed plan. Most people use a screenplay creation software program like Celtx or Final Draft for writing. You can learn screenwriting format and just use a word processor, but that's rather foolish as these applications are so helpful for both the writing and creative processes.
For those crafting other kinds of videos like a vlog, commercial or a documentary, constructing an "A/V" or "2 column" script might be more helpful in visualizing your shooting plan.
This video shows how to setup and compose a 2 column script. Basically, you will be writing down the video content in the left column, and the audio content in the right column. You can create a simple 2 column setup with any word processing program, but applications like the ones I mentioned earlier can assist you with more options and planning tools.
Each page of scripted dialog in either format turns out to be around 1 minute of screen time.
Of course, you could head to any shoot with no planned script. Maybe you just have a rough idea and you're going to engage in improv. While that's fine in a lot of instances, planning ahead of time as much as you can frees your mind up from worrying about other things. You also ensuring that you have the building blocks you need to create a compelling story once you start editing.
Working from your list of scenes (your 3 x 5 note cards), provide words in the form of dialogue and descriptive words which will be the basis of your screenplay or script. You enter these words into the screenplay software or the A/V 2 Column script. From the script, you can create a storyboard if you will be needing one.
Creating a Storyboard
Constructing a storyboard can also assist you in visualizing the shots you need ahead of time, especially in the case where the story requires carefully planned shots, like in a narrative film or commercial.
It's also a great tool that pays off at the shoot. With a storyboard you can convey to others the kind of shot you want to lay down, as well. Even if you are not that great at drawing, don't worry about it. Just do your best. My storyboards look like chicken scratch with a lot of stick figures and arrows to most people, but they really help me decide what I want to do with the scene ahead of time.
The other handy thing about a script is that it can act as a general guide as to the different setups that you're going to shoot.
Now that you have the basic components of your shoot ready, and have a screenplay or A/V script written, it's time for final plans for the shoot day.