Book Review - Preparing for Takeoff

       Have you ever been watching a good movie but thought, “that was missing something?”  What most likely happened was there wasn’t enough preproduction involved.  It’s something that cannot be overlooked and thought of as unimportant or “we can take care of that during production.”  Preproduction makes or breaks a film and Arthur Vincie gives us everything we need, to actually know what we are doing in Preparing for Takeoff. 

       Many student filmmakers take on all the major roles in their productions like director and producer.  But when you find yourself in a great team and have the opportunity to choose, Preparing for Takeoff gives a detailed analysis of the roles both producers and directors play in the preproduction process.

       This book also features vital preproduction tips on previsualization, script analysis, scheduling, budgeting, location scouting, hiring vendors, and clearing permits.

       Plus experience is valuable beyond belief and Vincie gives you lessons from the field in how to avoid mid-shoot changes, unhappy actors, fostering a resentful crew, wasted days and dwindling finances.  He also gives crucial advice on how to prepare for postproduction and distribution while still in the early stages of making a film.

      To leave you prepared as can be and ready to just out of the nest, Preparing for Takeoff  has an accompanying website that includes sample script analyses, beat sheets, storyboards, editable budget forms, and links to very useful software downloads, most of which are free, all to get you prepared to plan your film right!


About the Author 

       Arthur Vincie has over fifteen years of film and television production experience as a line producer, producer, and director.  Vincie has line produced for production managed numerous independent films and is very active in the New York City independent filmmaking community.  He has done production work for major television networks, including NBC, ABC, and BBC America.  He founded and currently runs Chaotic Sequence Inc., a company that produces shorts and features.  He recently wrote and directed the feature film Found in Time, which won the Best Sci-Fi Feature at the 2012 Shriekfest Sci-Fi/ Horror film festival.



List of Illustrations



PART 1  Early Days and the Big Picture


Chapter 1  The Film Life Cycle

            Understanding the Life Cycle

            Long-Term Payoffs

            Don’t Get Scared


Chapter 2  Fixing the Script

So You Think the Script Is Ready?

            What Is Your Script?

            The Tune-Up Pass

            Creating the Blueprint

Creating the Sales Document

Other Script-Related Chores


Chapter 3  Preparing Your Business

            Learning Business as an Artist

What Business Are You In?

Your Business, from 30,000 Feet

Why Form a Company?

Different Types of Companies

Setting Up Your Business

Setting Up the Business – Pick a State

Create the Company!

Putting Your Office Together

Get Your War Council Together

Building Your Business Plan

Form the Production Entity

Care and Feeding of Your Business

Putting It All Together


Chapter 4  Working with Other People

            Collaboration and Leadership

              The Leadership Experience

              The Mega-Tasks of Leadership

              Leading the Team

              Group Dynamics

              Some Real-World Examples

              The Mystery of Other People


Chapter 5  Marketing

The Marketing Process

The Primary Elements of Marketing

Your Marketing Process

Other Methods of Marketing



Web vs. Print Graphics

PART 2  The Director’s Path


Chapter 6  Script Analysis

A Brief Definition


Applying the Work to Production

Putting it All Together


Chapter 7  Gathering Materials


Getting the Materials

Organizing the Materials

What to Leave Out and What to Add


Chapter 8  Preparing for Casting

Planning the Interview

Casting/Audition Overview

The Casting Breakdowns

The Dream Cast List



Research and Suggestions

Headshots and Visuals

Casting Ahead


PART 3  The Producer’s Path


Chapter 9  Breaking Down the Script

Breaking Down the Script

Choice of Tools

Except Surprises

Step One: Decompose the Script

Analyze, Tweak, Repeat




Chapter 10  Budgeting

The Budget from 30,000 Feet

The Steps to Budgeting

The Structure of the Budget

Approaching the Budget

Key Decisions to Make

The Target Number

Cast Salary Structure

Decide on a Shooting Format and Camera

Running Time

Putting It All Together

What to Do Next: Research and Math


Chapter 11  Thinking Strategically

Discover Connections

Trimming That Budget

Put the Plan Together

Tracking Other Films

Put the Team Together

Thinking Strategically


Chapter 12  Vendors, Equipment, and Negotiations

Overview of Vendors and Equipment

Finding and Comparing Vendors




Special Equipment/Services

Production/Set Gear

Getting Technical


Chapter 13  Unions, Guilds, and States

The Union Catch

How Does This Affect Me?

$2M and Up: General Guidelines

The Structure of the Low-Budget Agreements

The Signatory Process

Right-to-Work States

Does Any of This Make Sense on My Film?

States, Cities, and Government Offices

Incentive Programs: The Power and the Glory

Child Work Permits and Labor Laws

Local Permits

Permit Gotchas

Let’s Steal the Shot

Dealing with the Civil Service

Start Early


Chapter 14  Rights and Contracts

Why Bother?

What All the Contracts Should Have

Early Agreements

Production Contracts

Post Contracts

Distribution Agreements



PART 4  Joint Preparation


Chapter 15  Casting

The Casting Process

Offer-Only “Name” Casting

The Tension Between Producer and Director

Side Benefits of Casting

Casting Can Be Fun


Chapter 16  Hiring the Crew

Who to Hire

Where to Get Crew

The Hunt

The Gestalt of the Shoot


Chapter 17  Scouting

What Do You Need, Really?

Gathering Your List of Resources

The Set vs. the Site vs. Footprint

The Tech Scout

Staying Organized with Locations


The End Result of Scouting


Chapter 18  Staying Organized

The “System”

Communicating with Others

Script Revisions and Locking the Script



Chapter 19  Pre-visualization

The Goals of Pre-visualization

Text vs. Picture First

What Do You Want To See?

Tools of the Trade

DIY vs. Hiring


Top-Down Diagrams

Software Options

“Action Figure”/ Tabletop Blocking

Computer-Based Pre-visualization

Straight-Ahead Shotlisting

Translating Pre-visualization into a Shotlist

Getting Beyond Pre-visualization


Chapter 20  Rehearsals/Working with Actors

Different Types of Rehearsal

The Objective

Budgeting for Rehearsal Time

Who Should Be involved

Rules of the Road

Listening and Probing

Avoiding Value Judgments

Informal Rehearsals

Formal Rehearsals

Revising the Script

Rehearsal Fears and Don’ts

Full-Cast Reading

Research/ Training

Producer’s Role During Rehearsals


PART 5  That Shoot and After


Chapter 21  Routines for Success in Production

The Time Horizon

Paperwork Flow

Getting Your Sound and Video in Sync

Directing and the Set

When Plans Go Awry

Keeping Perspective


Chapter 22  Preparing for Post

Getting the Film Ready for Post

Sound Designer and Composer

Visual Effects Designer and Colorist/Conformist

One-Stop Post House vs. A La Carte


Chapter 23  Preparing for Distribution

The Only Constant Is Change

Preparing for the Unknowable

Target Your Festival Release

Include Deliverables in Your Budget

Stay the Course, Keep Busy

Stay Organized

Stay Connected to the Cast and Crew

Stay Current

Spend Wisely


Chapter 24  Beyond Basic Planning

            Embrace Constraints

            Pick Your Battles

You’re Shooting the Movie, Not the Budget

            Hope Above All Else



Appendix A  Further Reading, Tools, Resources

Appendix B  Useful Forms

Appendix C  Union Information



Paperback, 332 Pages

Publisher: Focal Press

Publication Date: February 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-415-66168-3 (pbk)

ISBN: 978-0-203-58894-9 (ebk)