Casual Films offers a comprehensive range of pre-production services. As a full-service video production agency we’d be thrilled to take your idea from concept to social cut-down, but also offer our pre-production services in isolation.
On this page we break down each of the steps that lead to filming, and how we can help you realise your idea.
The brief is a crucial part of the process because if you write a solid brief, you’ll end up with a great film. Try to get as much information into your brief as possible so your video production agency receives a clear picture of what you’re trying to achieve or what you want your film to do. Think about the message and importantly, your audience. Make sure all your stakeholders are invested and aligned with the direction early on. It’s less costly and more efficient to get everyone on board at the start so try not to rush your brief to get the project underway.
If you’re having trouble writing your brief our executives can help you formulate it free of charge. They’re video consultants and each has worked on thousands of briefs, so they know what works and what we need to know to move the project into the development phase. With a clear brief we are often able to produce content that looks more expensive because we spend less time going back and forth to figure out how to make all the stakeholders happy. A good example of a film with a clear brief was a piece we made for RB called Are You Listening?
Along with an idea of budget and deadline, we had a crystal-clear brief including what they wanted to achieve, who the audience were and tone, along with references of films they liked or disliked. From this brief were able to produce three distinct and creative routes that all hit the mark and fell within budget. The film went on to win gold awards at film festivals in Cannes, London and New York.
The creative ideation phase is when you work up the ideas for your film or animation. We go about this part of the process in different ways depending on the size of the budget and the deadline but whatever the size or shape, a little creative thinking up front goes a long way. Our creatives lead this part of the process and they pull in influences from the different departments. We’ll brainstorm ideas with our editors, animators and sound engineers so we have input from the post-production team as well as the filmmakers and producers. Once the ideas have been thrown around, the creative will take away the notes from the session and begin the creative development. A strong creative is the key to success and will give a film or animation a better chance of standing out. A good example of a strong creative is our film for the facilities management company, Mitie.
They wanted a modular film that could be broken down into sections, we also needed to include all the employees and feature the building and FM side of the business. Our creatives came up with an office-wide mannequin challenge approach that involved the entire office. As you can see from the final result, the time invested in the idea and development phase resulted in a strong final film with a clear idea behind it.
Creative development is taking the best idea from the ideation phase along with the messaging in the brief and combining it to create a fully formed approach that will set your brand video apart from the competition. Producers work closely with the creatives during this phase to make sure the production will still fall within budget and hit the deadline. For a simple film or animation, the creative development usually takes around two days but for wider campaigns involving strategy, photography or design, the process can last up to one or two weeks.
Concept development is a process of working up an idea or concept to solve a specific problem. All the great and memorable campaigns were successful because they were built around a strong idea so it’s key at this stage to have an experienced team. Our creatives are deft at understanding complex subjects and turning them into simple, creative narratives but this is a collaborative and exciting part of the process so once we have worked up the initial concept, we will work with you closely to develop it further.
Whether it’s film or animation, text on screen or a voice over, most projects start with a script. A typical corporate film script is split into two – the story or voice over on one side and the visual description on the other. You can think of the script a bit like a blueprint for the production so it’s important that we lock this in place before we move onto the next phase. From scripts that pull on your heartstrings to slapstick comedy and spoken word poetry, our creatives have the scriptwriting experience to get the tone right and understand what works.
A well-crafted script can lift a typically dry subject and turn it into an emotional and impactful call to action.
Sometimes the creative route focusses on an authentic employee voice. In this instance, along with our producers, the creatives will interview the employees beforehand and write up a series of questions along with a guide script for the film. This means the final product feels authentic and you don’t need to ask Geoff from accounts to give a Tom Hanks level performance.
The storyboard is a graphic representation of how your video or animation will unfold shot by shot. They are made up of illustrations in squares, with a few lines under each box describing what is happening in the scene and what is being said. It’s worth investing in a storyboard because along with your script it acts as a roadmap for the production. The benefit of having a visual aid like this is that it makes it very clear what is happening in each scene and all the departments from pre through to post-production have a clear idea of what the vision is, which in turn will save you time and money.
While every video production agency and their team is unique, an experienced storyboard artist can typically turn around a storyboard for a 60 – 90 second film within a few days. It is often a good idea to work up a storyboard for an art-department led approach to ensure the aesthetic is on point.
A shot list is particularly helpful for bigger productions with multiple settings and serves as a detailed checklist while on location. They are typically broken down into several sections - the description of shot, interior / exterior, type shot, camera move and angle, subject and script reference.
The shot list also helps you to order the day and ensures you are shooting to an effective schedule. So, as an example, if you have three different scenes with the same characters in and the scenes all take place in one location, you will want to film those scenes back to back on the shoot day to save time and money.
Once we have produced a detailed shot list during pre-production, we’ll sit down with you to run through the list alongside the schedule and script to make sure you’re happy with the plan.
Shot lists are also invaluable to keep track when filming a branching narrative or gamified interactive content.
Along with the description of the creative and a sample script, we will include a mood board. This consists of a selection of images that convey the general tone or style of the film or animation. A mood board can be quite fluid and is often used as a guide or jumping off point to discuss how the film will fit in with your brand or website.
We typically include examples of wide shots, macro shots or close ups along with screen grabs from inspirational films or even just a texture or colour that gives an impression of how the final film will look.
This film we produced for Ferrero is a great example of a film developed from a mood board in the pre-production phase.
Video art direction is normally something our creative team and producers can look after to help keep the costs down, but occasionally art direction is a cornerstone to a creative approach. If it is a complex set or build we will bring in an art director to oversee this part of the process.
For the art direction in this stop-frame animation we produced for the Money and Pensions Service, we brought in a paper craft specialist who created all of the props from paper and then remained on set to oversee the production, concentrating purely on the aesthetic.
A video proposal is the document we send over once the idea has been fully formed along with the budget, schedules, mood boards and sometimes a sample script. We usually include two or three approaches at different price points. We always prefer to present our proposals in person, but we do also send over digital video proposals which we follow up with a feedback call or meeting.
Production planning is the key to success and helps to remove the stress from the time-sensitive production phase. The more organised you can be when planning a shoot or animation, the smoother the next stage will be.
At Casual our execs and producers have produced thousands of films and have planned productions in countries all over the world.
So, if you’re looking to shoot in LA, London, San Francisco, New York, Manchester or Bristol or even further afield like Singapore or Amsterdam, our producers have the network and know-how to plan your production so you can just sit back and enjoy the experience.
In this example you get an idea of how busy it can be once in the studio - a production of this size when shooting stills as well as film requires careful planning and coordination.
Location scouting is when we source the locations for the film and it’s an enjoyable part of the pre-production phase. That said, it involves a lot of time out of the office, travel to potential locations, gathering information and taking photos.
It’s often easier when location scouting to secure permits and access to locations in smaller towns or regional locations than in major cities, so if you’re in Newbury, Sheffield or Nottingham you might find it easier to secure a location than in London.
Whilst location scouting is a lot of work, once we have visited the location, we then have it on file and over the fourteen years in the business Casual have developed a portfolio of suitable homes, offices and exterior locations to pick from to expedite the process.
This film for Vodafone is a good example of how we used several locations across London to portray employees from Madrid, Qatar, Mozambique and South Africa by carefully selecting locations in the UK that looked like an apartment or location from that part of the world we were able to avoid flying a crew around the globe, saving both the planet and the budget.
A production timeline can vary significantly but usually a film or animation can take around 4 – 6 weeks. However, we’ve shot, cut and delivered a project in a day so just tell us your deadline and we’ll come up with a creative that delivers on time.
At Casual Films, when scheduling the project, producers will make sure there is ample time for pre-production preparation, feedback and amends and an extra buffer so we have time to make any last-minute changes.
Once the film is in post-production you have the opportunity to feedback on two versions of your film or animation. We typically schedule around two days for feedback once you have the video, so you have plenty of time to review and comment before we start making amends.
Casting can mean finding the right actors or voice over artists, or it can mean casting the most suitable employee from your organisation to star in your company video.
If we’re casting talent, we can run a session over a couple of days and can interview around twenty people. Once we have completed the casting days, we’ll send over a selection of performers on film for you to choose from.
I’m Out, Leon’s Story is a good example of a casting heavy project. It was essential to find the right talent for this hard-hitting mini-drama.
If we’re casting employees from your business, we can do this over a video call, or we can come down to your office and set up a casting session in a meeting room. Our producers will work with you to find the employees who are comfortable on screen and are best placed to represent your brand.
At Casual Films we try to keep everything in-house so when we’re crewing up a shoot, we’ll typically use our in-house team. That means we can cover the Americas and Europe by using our offices in London, Amsterdam, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
When we’re crewing up for an international project further afield, we facilitate this via our global network of freelancers that stretches across Asia, Africa and Oceania.
Regardless of whether you need a gaffer, sound recordist, director of photography or even just a runner, we have a vetted list of the finest in the industry.
Once the shoot has been confirmed we will pencil the crew for a shoot date and then confirm the booking closer to the time. Crewing the best people is all about establishing a good relationship with trusted suppliers and our producers each have a little black book of the best names in the business.
At Casual Films, we’ll look after each part of the production process. So once the creative is signed off, we’ll then move into booking all the elements you would need for shoot day. This includes the video equipment rental.
We’ve curated our in house video equipment to be easily used for a wide variety of projects. We’ve also developed close relationships with video equipment rental houses in each of the cities that we operate in. This means we’ll be able to secure all the right equipment to create your film from the best places in the city. Between what we have in house and what needs to be sourced, we can create huge efficiencies using a combination of the two. No matter what you need -- cameras, lenses, lighting equipment, grip equipment, we’ve got it covered!
It’s important that your video production kit resourcing is done right & sourced well to avoid unnecessary hassles and hiccups in the schedule on shoot day. Our team’s experience means that we know where to go to get it right, every time.
At Casual, our teams handle budgets big and small. Every project is just as important as another, no matter the size. That’s why our team will go above and beyond to make sure the budget that you provide us with will go as far as it possibly can. Which means that you’ll ultimately get the most bang for your buck.
Our team has years of experience so we know where the budgets can be best allocated to yield the most return and where we can better create efficiencies. We’ll also understand which elements of the film are the most crucial to your end goals and can allocate our efforts and dollars to maximize that payoff.
Any location shoot will require the proper video permits — whether you’re filming just outside your office or in a public place. Having these permits properly sourced is crucial to making sure we’re able to film and capture all that is required on a location shoot day. Usually permits need to be requested well in advance. So, as soon as we know a location shoot will be happening, our team will get to work making sure we have all the right permissions to be where we need to be. Then on the shoot day, everyone on the team can focus on creating the final product. Pro tip: If a video production agency you may be considering doesn’t offer to attend to the legal side of things, that’s a red flag!
Any large scale film shoot will require proper permits and video insurance to make sure that it’s people, it’s equipment, and it’s facilities are well looked after. Since our team has experience working on productions large and small, we’re equipped to source the necessary video insurance documents to make sure everything is properly squared away before undertaking filming. Need to film outdoors? Near water? Underground? With expensive equipment? We’ve done all of the above! And, our insurance is well prepared to create custom policies that can be outfitted to any type of specifications.