One of the very first things I do with creatives is ask them: "What is our target?"
This is important to know because if, for example, a film director has a particular festival premiere in mind then we need to determine whether it's achievable from the current stage of the project. It also lays the groundwork for the entire project timeline.
Setting an exact end date for delivery is important for two reasons:
1. It gives you and your team some vision. By stating that you want a film to premiere at Cannes, or your film or artwork to be part of the Venice Biennale, you are beginning to form a vision for the project. Having a strong mindset and setting high goals are important as they set the tone for the project.
2. It allows you to reverse engineer the entire process, set meaningful milestones and hold yourself accountable.
A typical independent film production process looks like this:
Development: 3 months
Pre-production: 2-3 months
Production: 4-6 weeks
Editing: 12-14 weeks
Post-production: 3 months
Delivery: 2 weeks
Total: 14 1/2 months.
So if it's 17 July 2018 and we're at the idea stage, then the earliest we will have a film ready to deliver is around the end of September 2019. The submission deadline for Sundance is in September so we could set our festival target premiere for Sundance in January 2020. Once we do that we have exact deadlines for each stage of production that can then be broken down into smaller tasks.
At that point, it's time to get to work.