Style and tone: know what you want. Your script will determine what sort of comedy film you are making (e.g. straight sketch, gameshow or studio format, silent movie, outdoor vox-pop, physical comedy, spoof etc). Think about which shows you like. Are there any directors you admire? What shows would it most resemble?
Budget: ask yourself some questions first:
- Are you after high production values or a low-budget, home-grown look for web film?
- Are you planning to self-shoot or do you need a crew?
- Can you pay your actors/crew? If not, area you clear about who owns the IP to the sketch and who will benefit from any revenue?
- Are you shooting with professional equipment or would an iPhone suffice for what you want to achieve?
- What location are you planning to use? Do you need to pay a fee for permission to shoot there?
- Do you need any props or scene changes?
- Do you need to plan shots – would storyboarding help?
- What equipment do you need to hire? Think about lighting (especially if shooting at night or inside) and sound.
- Are you planning to edit yourself or do you need to budget for this?
- Do you need financing and if so how? NB. You can raise money through sites like Kickstarter or even MIMOtv if you can convince enough people to invest in your project.
Crew: OK, if you’re not doing a one- man show, you will probably need crew. If you don’t already know the right actors and crew, you can always post your project on sites like ShootingPeople.org, Filmmaking.net, cyberfilmschool.com. If you don’t already have upcoming directors, editors, actors, cameramen etc in your network, many people are keen to build their experience and will work for free. If you can harness free talent, make sure you provide decent food on set.
Equipment: speak to as many people as you know about the type of cameras and sound equipment you might need to achieve the effect you want. If you don’t know anyone in the industry try asking on message boards or phone a camera hire shop. You could try the resource and message board Dvfilmmaker.com.
Video sketch: this is especially important if you’re asking people to give you their valuable time for no money. If you can get hold of a camcorder do a run-through on film, try out different locations, compositions, camera effects and rehearse the action through with your actors until you’re happy with their performance and timing. Basic rule: don’t keep it in your head until the day of shoot.
Remember the rule of PPPPPP (Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Production). Basically you have to play the role of a production manager here: plan everything on paper from your shooting schedule or shot list, to costume/changes of scene, rehearsal dates, through to sound effects.