Pre-production talk.. My 10 steps...
So what are ideas anyway? I like to think of them as little micro beasts flying around the air and we just need to catch one and hope that it sticks.
Believe it or not.. without really trying at all you have ideas ALL day long!
Sure, the level of ideas may not always be riveting in the means of creating and solving global warming BUT none the less... you and your brain are an idea making machine!
So today I wanted to chat about my crazy ideas and how I personally take those ideas and put them in motion.
Now let’s be clear.. I don’t think all ideas are great ideas... Example. I’ve always thought creating a nose beanie was THE BEST idea ever! But puh-lease no one wants to cover the middle of their face with a crochet slab. And how would it stay on anyways? ... #crushed the nose will have to withstand the cold another day after all.
My point is.. you have to sift through your ideas and when it sparks unwavering excitement and passion and “can’t stop” kinda momentum ... you have to follow it and follow through with it.
I believe this is how I live my life... and how Tap That was born.
I could go on and on about this.. but today I want to focus on pre-production and my formula - starting from idea to shoot day. (We will talk production another time).
1. An idea strike's - Not just any idea.. THE idea! You can't stop thinking about it - It gets you up in the morning and keeps you up late at night. It could be just that.. a great concept, or it could be a piece of music that inspires you.
- Write it down
- Expand on the idea
- Map out and story board
- Ask yourself questions. What do you need? Is there a storyline?
2. Get together your core production team -
This for me is one the most important steps. When I lock down my Cinematographer and On-Set Director to talk specifics on the project and discuss what is doable, I really see the idea take a new level and I can focus on building the concept.
For example: The first Tap That video I created was called Salute. The rain scene was something I could not live without, closing out the dance video with this scene was mandatory to my vision. And you know what, we made it happen. But, this is not always the case, there are a lot of things you have to take into consideration. Some of which are safety (The 3rd video I wanted us to fall from heights onto a mattress with petals falling around us - This did not happen) also location/permits, and budget play a part.
This is also a great time to set into motion a goal of when you wish to shoot and put a tentative hold on your team. After all, if you don't set in those dates, you really aren't working towards the goal.. you can just keep putting it off. Give yourself a timeline, so you can work towards it effectively.
3. Choreography and Rehearsals - I tend to not even begin teaching until I have had these initial meetings. I will have the routine completely mapped out and solid ideas of location before I start rehearsing.
In most cases I have the routine at least half way choreographed when I start teaching my girls and then I see where it goes from there. A lot of the time I like to see what naturally flows out and if you are pressed on doing it in one sitting, I feel like you lose the magic.
I'm a big fan of style, it may be the same choreography but how it lives in each dancers body is so intriguing to me. I love seeing how the choreography sits with everyone and seeing it evolve into what you see in the finished product! It really helps to have a kick ass squad that are pure dynamite like the Tap That Squad.
4. Location Scouting - This is a biggie! It has to all work hand in hand with your vision. And if you can get a location that gives you several backgrounds and sets in one... You are winning!
I feel like unless you are given a big budget to work with.. you are always negotiating rates! And its worth it, because you have a vision and you only have so much coin to work with. So you want to make sure you are putting the money in the right places. AND in my experience, most locations will try to work with your budget. And if they don't, keep looking cause there are others that will.
One of my favorite locations to date, was on video 4 "Mz Hyde" Rock video. It was EXACTLY what I wanted. The biggest draw card was a chain-link cage. I knew with the right lighting and some smoke, just how epic it could be. And what really made it a deal maker was that it had other locations I could use. Eg, An alley way with graffiti, the car park and staircase. It was pricey, however they did bring it down and we negotiated in some equipment. The only downside was I had a very specific time frame that I could use the space for, and going over time was not an option. Super important on shoot day to have an AD who stays on top of the time!
5. Securing Equipment - Most Cinematographers have their own equipment as far as cameras go, however sometimes you want a certain camera for whatever reason. eg. Black Magic Cinema Camera or a RED.
And you most certainly will want to be specific about the lighting to capture certain moods. This may also include hiring a dolly with a track system for those smooth moving shots, or even a camera crane.
I tend to use the equipment mentioned above, as well as a fog machine. I love a sweet bit of smoke entering our set.
A great place to find all kinds of equipment is SHAREGRID. I mean you can find everything on this website. I particularly like to still go through actual companies rather than individuals on sharegrid, but it is a super trustworthy site.
6. Costumes -
Over time I have really built up the "Tap That" wardrobe with pieces I dig, however every shoot will require new bits and pieces. Sometimes, Online shopping is your best friend but other times my "go-to" is Angie at La Maison De Fashion. She is a hoot and together we really pull together pieces to make a pop on screen.
What is super important: Be specific. Have a pinterest page or ten! I personally like to do up a mood board of each girl's vibe and color palates. It does make it easier to pull when going through the designers endless wardrobe options. I do also love having at least one of my girls when doing this and if everyone can make it even better!
7. Hair and MUA - Securing the glam team is awesome! In the past we usually get it all done prior and then keep one artist on for touch ups.
What I have found.. a lot of dancers like to fix their makeup.. so sometimes I opt to just have us do it ourselves. But when budget does allow, a stellar glam squad is where it is at! Especially if the makeup is specific.
You can always find groups through facebook, and referrals are everywhere in LA. I mean I just found out the dude living next door to me is a makeup artist... ! What!!!
Also Model Mayhem is another place to find hair and makeup artists wanting to expand their portfolios, so sometimes you my even get it for trade! Woohoo!
8. Paperwork - I know, I know. You want to be creative, not sitting in front of the screen, but guess what.. its important.
- Insurance - trust... you want this!
- Call sheets are a must. (you will finalize your crew prior to this for the call sheet - I don't want to skim past this point, but this is a whole blog post in it its own of crew)
- Release forms and Liability forms
- Don't forget location release forms.
- While you are in front of the laptop, its always nice to send a little love letter to your team and crew. Everyone is working hard for this... its always nice to send a little email out to tell them how much they rock and how together as a team you all are gonna create magic.
9. PRACTICE - The practice does not end leading up to a shoot and the most important thing is that you all feel good and that you are vibing as a team. A good night sleep the night before is EVERYTHING! Also a spray tan . Jokes. But serious!
10. Crafty - No matter what... you always need sufficient craft services and beverages. And if the filming is long enough you will also need to provide lunch or dinner.
Costco is THE place to go. Mass amounts of food to feed the hungry! It's also a fun adventure because they give you samples. Go to Costco with room in your belly!
And as far as main meal services, investigate restaurants in the area of your filming location that cater. And I'd stay away from heavy food, and alway be aware of vegetarian/vegan options. No one wants to eat just a bread stick because there are no other options for them.
Wow... That was a chat.... I feel like I have only scratched the surface of this topic, however, I hope it has been insightful and helpful on some level. Is it a lot off work? YES! But is it worth it? TOTALLY!
Remember, everyone starts somewhere, so why don't you just jump and give it a go if this is your thanggg. You got this.
And also to note, a lot of the things above are a producers job. If you are not keen on negotiating, and doing paperwork and organizing, you can hire someone to produce for you.
But mostly... I say follow your passion and your ideas that make you excited! This is your life.. now go live it!
Pep talk over!
PS. Don't forget to join our TAP THAT SQUAD