Pre Production

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 7.41.09 AMYour Pre Production Packet for your film should include:

  1. Your crew names and production company name (with contact information)
  2. Your film’s working title
  3. A cast list (names of actors and which roles they are playing; with contact information)
  4. A location list (interiors and exteriors)
  5. A list of props
  6. A list of costumes
  7. Any makeup or special effects
  8. Any sounds that need to be recorded on location or separately (wild sound or sound fx)
  9. Equipment list: Which camera or cameras? Camera mounts–ie tripod, steadicam, jib, or is it all handheld? Lights? Sound equipment (mics, boom, cables)? Make a list down to batteries, chargers, cables, etc! 
  10. Production schedule – all days and times of shooting, and on those days, which shots in which order.

Assignment: Shoot and Write a Photo Essay

“The Country Doctor” Photo Essay by W. Eugene Smith for LIFE Magazine, 1949

Description: Having reviewed photo essays / stories (from National Geographic, Time Magazine, the New York Times and Mother Jones Magazine), it’s time to shoot your own! Your job is to tell a story with images, and write an article to go with your piece.

Essential Questions:

  • How can a story be told effectively in images? How can images add to a written story (text), and vice versa?
  • How does skillful editing affect a photo story (shot selection, variety and order?)
  • How can the photographer both plan and improvise (remain “open”) on location to capture the whole story? How does interacting with the subject and learning more about the story improve the photographs?
  • How does the skillful digital photographer work with the constraints and opportunities presented by the location (i.e., available light, fast moving action, quiet moments, and so on?)


  • Create a 10-20 image slideshow
  • Write a 500-1000 word article describing the story. Include history, quotes, observations–things you can learn from talking to people while shooting and doing some research on your own.
  • Post the story on your blog as a “Gallery” or slideshow, with your text.


  1. Brainstorm and choose a story to photograph. Take us (your audience) into another world, a world we may not know about. The story can be:
    1. Of personal interest, or of importance to your family (i.e. a cultural tradition)
    2. An event (ie a parade, festival, competition)
    3. A place with an interesting history or perspective
    4. An organization
  2. Make a “Shot List” … like a wish list of angles and subjects you hope to capture
  3. Prepare your gear. Charge your battery! Do you need an special lenses? A tripod?
  4. Shoot 100-200 images on location.
    1. Get to know the people there. Get the story!
    2. Take notes on the story for what you’ll write later
    3. Make sure you get a variety of shots (wide, close up, people, things, location shots, action, great light, textures, color…and so on!) Refer back to your “shot list.”
  5. Select your best images and put them in story order. Your story should have a beginning, middle and end.
  6. Develop your images in Adobe Lightroom
  7. Post your story on your blog
  8. Read, watch and comment on all the other stories in class.

Writing the Essay:

  • Overall: Your job is to tell us the story behind the images. The words you write are a companion to the photographs; your photographs should illustrate your writing, and your writing should strengthen your photographs.
  • Length: The essay that accompanies your images should be three paragraphs, 5-7 sentences each.
  • Paragraph 1: Introduce your subject. Answer these questions: Who, what, why, where and when? Who is featured in your story? What are they doing? Why does this person or group of people do what they do? Where does your story take place? When does your story take place? Talk about it’s history, present, and if applicable, future.
  • Paragraph 2 is about your photographing this subject. What drew you to it? How did you chose to approach your subject visually? What was your experience while shooting? Feel free to talk about overall approach, specific images, and to tell anecdotes.
  • Paragraph 3 should conclude your photo essay. Why was this subject important? What do the images tell us about this subject? And, what did you learn from this assignment? What might you do the same or differently next time?

Writing Assignment: Review a Photo Essay

Riveter at a military aircraft factory. Fort Worth, Texas, 1942 by Howard R. Hollem

In preparation for shooting your own photo essay, you will be looking at and reviewing photo essays online. The following Photo Essay Review should be posted on your new blog with a link to the essay.

Review of a photo essay online

  1. Browse three outstanding websites:
    1. New York Times “Lensblog”
    2. Time Magazine’s “Lightbox”
    3. Mother Jones Magazine’s Photoessays
    4. National Geographic Photo Stories
  2. Choose one photo essay to write about. Your response should have:
    1. First paragraph should include:
      1. A link to the specific photo essay for your teacher (cut and paste the URL into your response)
      2. The name of the writer
      3. The name of the photographer
      4. The name of the magazine / online source
      5. The date
      6. A description of the photo essay, in your own words. What is it about? 1-3 sentences.
    2. Second paragraph (5-7 sentences) should be your response to the content. What do you find interesting about the story or issues raised by the story?
    3. Third paragraph (5-7 sentences) should be your response to the images. How did the photographer approach this story visually? What elements of photography enhance your understanding or feeling for the story? (i.e., color, light, framing, angle, proximity to subject, etc).

Special Presentation: “Our Disappeared” award-winning documentary film – Director present!

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Mr. Pohl (Spanish) is organizing a special multi-disciplinary, in-school field trip that will take place on Thursday, October 22nd. Students from International Issues, Spanish, and Filmmaking classes will view the award-winning film Our Disappeared / Nuestros Desaparecidos in the auditorium. The director, Juan Mandelbaum, will be here to speak and answer questions from our students at the conclusion of the film. This program will run during A, C, and G blocks.
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The following is a blurb from Imdb about the film and the director:
“Our Disappeared”/”Nuestros Desaparecidos” is director Juan Mandelbaum’s personal search for the souls of friends and loved ones who were caught in the vise of the military and “disappeared” in his native Argentina during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. The film is a personal journey into the past to reflect on the political and personal contexts that led so many young people to fight for a more just Argentina. After finding out that Patricia, a long lost girlfriend, is among the “desaparecidos” Mandelbaum returns to Argentina to find out what happened to her and others he knew who also disappeared. As he revisits the dreams they shared for a revolution that would transform Argentina he grieves the tragic losses and examines his own choices: not signing up with any of the radical groups at his university and leaving Argentina in 1977 at the height of the repression, to escape the pervasive climate of fear. Using extraordinary archival footage, Mandelbaum brings the energy and tension of the time and place to life. In this return voyage to Argentina’s past Mandelbaum learns much about his friends’ tragic stories, and about his own. Now we can hear from three generations affected by the state of terror, and the passage of time allows for deeper reflections. Thirty years after the military coup Mandelbaum explores what happens when brutal regimes attack the fabric of a country with great impunity, causing enormous suffering that lasts for generations. The pain that seemed so distant is still very much present.d