The process depends on the team: I’m often asked what is the user experience design process , aka what is the reproducible “flowchart” for all inputs/outputs for any creative team. This can sometimes be a frustrating question, because it often depends on a number of factors, such as what are the goals, what’s the project triangle, what medium are we working with and perhaps most importantly, who’s on the team. In the film world, each film is made a bit differently. The cast and crew are never going to be the identical, and likewise, the process and outputs will never be identical either. A good director builds on the strengths of the team while deftly working around its constraints.
Mapping it all out: It’s rare to be able to pull a creative piece off without a lot of forethought. Every minute you sink into the planning pays tenfold you back in terms of the actual shooting and editing. (In the software world, this would translate into development savings). We created storyboards to figure out how we wanted to construct each scene; wrote mini-scripts to give our “actors” so they could quickly study their lines; estimated the amount of time we wanted each shot to take; planned how we wanted a room to look and listed all the props that would bring each scene alive; setting up fake Facebook and gmail accounts; creating a “meta script” to remind us of everything we needed to do while shooting. We thought and rethought every detail we could think of before any actors showed up on the scene, because we knew we had a very finite amount of time for shooting. In retrospect, since we were just a two-person team, we probably should have had an even beefier meta script and ran through it several times before meeting with our actors.
You don’t know what you don’t know: Like with UI design, if you’re tackling something new, you may underestimate the complexity of something until you’re in the throes of it. And then next time you know (and plan) better. With film, we quickly learned that physically walking through the scene and marking out the key “action points” in advance of filming helps you work out the kinks. Camera and lighting had a couple of tangles up until then. Walking your actors through the scene is helpful too, especially when it’s something that normally you (or your actors) would do without much thought – like pulling up a bookmark; copying/pasting a URL; or quickly writing a two word reply on Facebook. When it’s something scripted though, remembering all the necessary steps can require some practice and a dress rehearsal.