All of your scenes and shots and planned out during the pre-production process. Now it's time to figure out how to turn them in reality by creating a shooting schedule.

Filming can be a confusing, overwhelming experience. The more scenes, the more possibilities. Fortunately, there is a procedure that reduces the amount of decisions from the beginning. This procedure provides steps which build on each other and help to make the creation of a shooting schedule more efficient, without leaving you lost in endless possibilities. So here are the five steps to follow to create the perfect shooting schedule.

Start With Scene Chronology

Put Everything in Chronological Order

First, put all of the scenes in the chronological order of the script. Such a chronology not only provides a good visual overview of the story, a chronological shooting sequence also helps the creative team enormously during shooting, as their character arc proceeds in a coherent way. Unfortunately, shooting in chronological order is usually made impossible by cost-relevant production factors such as the number of days an actor can be on set or the status of sets and locations.

Use The Chronological Schedule As A Reference

It is all the more important to pay attention to a chronological order of shooting when it is not associated with additional costs! This is easiest when you work out a schedule based on a chronology. Save the chronology as your own planning scenario and work with a copy. This way, you can always keep it as a default schedule to reference.

Filming Locations

Location Scout

Now it's time to identify all of your filming locations. Put all of the scenes that are shot at the same location together in a block – maintaining the chronology of scenes within the blocks. Scenes that might take place in different places, but that can be scheduled in the same location, you also put together: For example, if you have the location "town square" and have a shot elsewhere called "street downtown", the probability is great that you can find this shot at the location "town square", even if the shot is supposed to be somewhere else, even in another city.

Limit The Number Of Changes

Why follow this procedure? The goal is to keep the number of changes between locations as low as possible. Location changes are always time consuming and costly and associated with a significant risk to the schedule. Therefore, if they are not necessary, avoid them completely. Filming locations where only one or two shots are needed, you can summarize under a separate category called "small sets".

What Will The Workload Be?

Organize By Shooting Day

Now it gets complicated. Next you have to form workloads based on the locations and figure out the number of scenes that can be shot within the timeframe of a day's shooting. Luckily, sorting by location helps you: Filming locations that clearly constitute a day's shooting are easy to identify and do not need more attention.

Filming locations with less workload than a day's shooting should be combined in such a way that the necessary set change causes as little time loss and as few additional costs as possible. It is therefore important to combine actors and extras, as well as technical resources, as cleverly as possible - seeing if certain things are needed at both locations, for example.

Resource Management

Finally, the locations with more than one day of shooting have to be divided into individual daily shoots. Again, you have to pay attention in order to proceed as cost-effectively as possible, making sure you skillfully combine resources. Depending on the size of the shoot at these locations, this can be quite complicated.

Once again, you do not change anything about the chronology within the shooting days. When you have divided everything up, you can count through the shooting days and have the first overview of how long filming will take on your project.

Your Production Calendar

Do The Schedules Align

It is only now that you take your calendar in hand and think about which days you want to shoot on. Having to do this so late has the advantage that you already have a sense of how everything can be arranged based on the shooting days you have built up. For example, there are locations where you can shoot only on certain days - you can immediately take those into account when defining the calendar.

Now you can figure out which days you want to change location on and which days you need free and distribute your shooting days on the available calendar openings. As you do this, you have to ask yourself a number of questions. What workload is suitable for the first day of shooting? Which film locations will you use for the beginning of the filming process and which scenes do I end up shooting? Are there any shooting days that are only possible on certain dates?

It Gets Complicated

The distribution of shooting days is more complicated than it may at first seem. For example, an expensive location should not be left unused over a weekend, but the sequence of scenes within the shooting days must now meet a variety of complex conditions. For example, some scenes have to be filmed in daylight, others at night, and for others there are technical solutions that allow them to be filmed independently of the light. With certainty, you will now have to deviate from the chronology and adjust the order of the scenes within the shooting days to these conditions.

At this point, it is also not uncommon to change the calendar dates again to facilitate a better shooting schedule. Of all the stages of planning your shooting schedule, the distribution of the scenes takes the most time. It's only when you have the feeling that all the shooting days are realistically possible that you are done. If you still have the feeling that a shooting day works only on paper, you should look for a better solution.

Keep Your Options Open

Flexible Shooting Schedule

So now all the scenes are distributed, all the shooting days appear to be possible, and you have factored in some flexibility for key scenes. Unfortunately you are still not finished. Now you should check your schedule to see if you can improve it with regard to imponderables. What is the worst thing that can happen on every single day of shooting, and how can you prepare for it from the start? What if all the work is not completed on a shooting day?

You should also try to ensure that the last scene of a shooting day can be restarted cost-neutral on another day of shooting - either because it returns to the location or because the scene can also be staged in another location.

Consider The Worst Case Scenarios

Elaborate sequences should always be placed in the schedule in such a way that their implementation remains flexible, in order to avoid incurring uncalculated costs and upsetting the film's production. You may be able to move the garden party in the schedule and find another day for shooting. If you find a better solution, you can adjust the schedule and see if other schedules might work better. Sometimes you can not find better solutions, and that's okay too.

What's important is that you have thought in advance about everything that could happen - nothing is more uncomfortable in a shooting process than not being prepared when something unexpected happens.


Now you are finally done. You can distribute your draft plan to all production participants and ask for their opinion. From the perspective of their respective departments, they may have valuable ideas to include in this or your next project.

A schedule is so complex that it is impossible to think about everything; The feedback of your colleagues is therefore a great help that you should take seriously and observe. But do not be under any illusions - a schedule is never perfect for everyone and somebody will always have to compromise. The trick is to find the best solution for each project.

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