The Pre-Production Process


So it’s time for some content? We’ll be happy to help, but first, a few things to help us all collaborate as successfully as possible! Investing in video is an exciting journey that involves multiple phases, each crucial to the overall success of the final product. The pre-production phase, often considered the blueprint of the entire process, is where ideas begin to take shape, and plans are set in motion (video pun). As a client, understanding what to expect during this initial stage can significantly contribute to a smooth and successful production experience.


The pre-production phase typically kicks off with what we’ve dubbed a “discovery call” between the client and the production team (lots of people call it that, so we can’t take credit for the name). This is a crucial step where expectations, goals, and the overall vision for the project are discussed. Clear communication at this stage is key to ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards a common goal.

One of the primary objectives of the “discovery call” is to define the purpose of the video and identify the target audience. Understanding the message you want to convey and who you're speaking to helps in shaping the creative direction of the video. This phase involves brainstorming sessions and discussions to outline key themes, messages, and calls to action. At SplyceHouse, we like to start with the end in mind, then reverse engineer from there.

Scratch, cheddar, green, Benjamins…whatever you like to call it, now is when we talk money. Establishing a realistic budget is crucial for a smooth production process. The budget will help determine a lot of variables and will give us a scope of possibilities. This includes outlining costs for equipment, talent, location, and any other resources required. This is where we really love it when our clients think of us as a service provider, as opposed to a commodity. We know the end result is what you’re here for, but we aim to bring a level of experience and professionalism to the table that will create an experience as enjoyable as the final product. 

Let’s figure out when we can dive into the production phase. This involves coordinating our calendars with yours (and anyone else who needs or wants to be there). Location availability, talent schedules, client preferences, and many other factors (even weather) can affect a production schedule, so it’s best to prepare as much as possible and have backup options. 

The industry-standard, at least in St. Louis, tends to be a 10-hour work day for productions. That’s how we roll at SplyceHouse anyways, and we want you to get the most out of those 10 hours as possible. When scheduling, really consider anything we call a “time suck” and decide if it’s necessary, or if there are any other options or solutions. This is where we can provide insight on how to maximize the time you have in order to achieve the best ROI.

Now it’s time to put pen to paper on the creative side of things. Not every production will require a script and/or storyboard, but many do, and they go a long way in streamlining your production day (AKA, maximizing value as previously mentioned). It is also noteworthy that the order of these events is very important, because once you finalize the scripting phase, it becomes increasingly difficult to move backwards in the process.

So once the concept is solidified, the scriptwriting and storyboarding process begins. This phase involves crafting a compelling script that aligns with the project's objectives. Storyboards are visual representations of how the video will unfold, helping to visualize shots, transitions, and overall flow (when it makes sense to utilize them).

That being said, a lot of what we do at SplyceHouse falls under the category of “docu-style.” More often than not, when you take more of a “real life” approach to filming, a script + storyboards don’t necessarily exist. The “script” is often represented by an outline + a series of interview questions that will generate most of the content. It is not uncommon for us to show up, film some interviews, film some b-roll, then head back to the edit suite and put it all together. This approach, when done properly, is very effective — but looks a little a little different than a more traditional, commercial-type of production.

Cast + Crew:
Now we need people. If the video involves actors or on-screen talent, pre-production is the time to select and cast individuals who will bring the script to life. Simultaneously, assembling a skilled production crew, including directors, cinematographers, editors, and (often times) many other positions, ensures that the project is in capable hands from start to finish. This step is something that we can handle for you at Splycehouse, but we love as much collaboration as possible during this phase, especially with casting, as our main job is to bring your vision to life. That being the case, we always want to keep the ultimate goal of the video in mind when selecting cast and crew.

This is also when equipment often enters the equation. If there’s any special technological needs, fancy lights, funky lenses, or a filter to make everyone look like an Instagram model, now is the time to figure that out. While equipment might have come up during the budgeting step, now is the time to start making decisions and locking in the appropriate gear with the appropriate crew.

If we’re taking a more “docu-style” approach to the production (as we often do at Splycehouse) then this part of the conversation gets a little streamlined. There are typically no actors with this approach, but instead, real people doing real things. We generally interview these people to help produce the content (A-roll), then follow them around for supporting imagery that will help visualize that content (B-roll). This is a pretty drastic, over-simplification…but you get it.

We need a set. Choosing the right location and designing sets are critical elements in video production. Whether shooting on location or in a studio, careful consideration is given to the visual aesthetics that will complement the narrative. This phase involves site visits, addressing logistical concerns, and making necessary arrangements. Sometimes location scouts are unnecessary or impossible (especially with the “docu-style” approach we’ve talked so much about), but idealistically, at least the director and cinematographer can get a look at the environment they will be filming in during the pre-production phase. This is just another preparation that will ultimately lead to a smoother production day and a better end result.


Embarking on a video production journey is an exciting collaboration where our clients become partners, contributing to the creative process from concept to execution. The pre-production phase serves as the cornerstone of our partnership, where ideas flourish, plans take shape, and visions come to life. Whether we're creating a full-blown, cinematic masterpiece of a commercial — or we’re riding around with a franchise owner to highlight a “day in their life” — the preproduction phase is equally as important in both scenarios, and paramount to a successful production. Now, let’s go make something!