top of page

What should be in your preproduction notebook?

by Salome Milstead (SOTA) 

Screen Shot 2022-02-06 at 3.08.58 PM.png

Step II. Contents of  Your Notebook 


So, you have your fresh notebook ready to go. Now what? As I said before, planning is the biggest component of preproduction and the key to a strong, polished film. The preproduction process may seem at times as everything is pressed on time, or maybe things are going too slow for your comfort. Either way, make sure to complete all the necessary steps that make a good film a good film. To help with this, start with turning to your first page and create some form of "checklist" to organize the steps. Yours may look different from the one provided by my film school (left image) or the one I created in my notebook (right image), but consider including the following: 

  • (Optional) Brainstorming Page - get some ideas flowing! Nothing is right or wrong, just write down some concepts you want to work on.

  • Film Pitches - I typed mine out, but get your elevator pitches ready to present! (2-3) 

  • Treatment - a basic rundown of the story your film tells. Nothing too complicated, just list what happens, not why it happens.  

  • Script - most people stop at treatments, but scripts are necessary for narrative films, especially those with dialogue. 

  • Script Breakdown Sheets - essentially a script study to make sure you have what you need when the writing comes to life. 

  • Character Sketches - one or two pages dedicated to the main characters in your story for you to get to know them best. (Also include hair, makeup, etc.) 

  • (Optional) Location Scouting/Shots - it's always a good idea to go where you envision your film to take place and capture some angles to benefit the storyboarding process! 

  •  (Optional if using shot list) Storyboarding - you can either draw the boards out by hand and fill them in with shot descriptions and drawings, or glue in a printout! 

  • (Optional if using storyboard) Shot List - a simpler version of storyboarding without visual guidance. 

  • (Optional) Art Direction/Lookbook - my personal favorite addition to the notebook. A film can be made so much more original with the help of collages or any form of art board to guide the visual components of the movie! 

  • Casting - who is in your movie? How will you get them to play the role? 

  • Schedule - when will the production cycle begin? 


If you are lost on anything I have just said, don't worry! My suggestion is to first write all of these steps down, and we will complete them together on the way. Let's do this! 

Come back next week for a rundown on how to pitch your film! 


bottom of page