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Production Design Plan

Production Design Plan

The production design plan is a blueprint for the media production that you complete in Units 3&4 Media.

Your production design plan must be clear, detailed and well-organised. The mark of a good production design plan is when someone familiar with that media form, such as another filmmaker, can use it to plan the film just as you had intended.

Don’t waste time decorating your production design plan. Although many schools purchase A3 or A2 folios for the production design plan, you will not be awarded additional marks for glitter, gel pens or bubble writing. When Quentin Tarantino is writing his latest screenplay, he doesn’t pop down to the scrapbooking supply store to buy glitter. It’s not industry practice. Don’t waste your time.

Sample production design plans

The following design plans were completed by students at East Doncaster Secondary College.

The Folly of Wo/Man by Daniel Wallace | Narrative | YouTube

The Bounty Hunters by Adam Forgione | Narrative | YouTube

Batalvi by Ivana Brehas | Music Video | YouTube

Datsun Roadster by Aaron Cara | Documentary

Eskimo by Stephanie Caraglanis | Animation | YouTube

Evergreen by Vanessa Tang | Music Video

Rewind by Jon Coumaros | Narrative | YouTube

Sam the Magic Man by Benjamin McManamny | Documentary

You can see further examples of design plans from Top Design and Top Screen at the Australian Teachers of Media website.

Contents of the production design plan

Your production design plan will be divided into the following sections:

  • Investigation. Collect and annotate examples of media texts that have inspired you. If you’re creating a video, you might choose a film that has inspired you and write about its use of editing, mise-en-scene and camera techniques. Your investigation should incorporate research and an exploration of ideas or options.
  • Concept. This should include a written and/or visual exploration of your ideas. It may include brainstorming, mapping, feedback, experimentation, reflection and evaluation. You might start by listing different ideas for your production. These might simply be words or visual images. Your inspiration can come from anywhere. Beneath these headings, begin to flesh out each of the ideas. When you’ve developed these ideas, you may discover that one or two of them have more merit than the others. Select these ideas and begin to develop them further, setting aside an entire page in your folio for each idea. Seek feedback from other people about these ideas and document that feedback in your folios.
  • Intention. Your intention should include a discussion of your purpose, impact and the desired outcome of your media product.
  • Audience. Your description of audience should cover their attitudes, expectations and knowledge.
  • Written planning document.
    • Narrative film. Log line, treatment, screenplay, shotlist, call sheets, schedule, copyright clearance, location permissions.
    • Documentary. Script, pre-interview questions and responses, interview questions and anticipated responses, shotlist, call sheets, schedule, copyright clearance, location permissions.
    • Music video. Shotlist, call sheet, schedule, copyright clearance, location permissions.
    • Animation.  Log line, treatment, screenplay, shotlist, schedule, copyright clearance.
    • Radio drama. Log line, treatment, screenplay, call sheet, schedule, copyright clearance.
    • Print. Articles, interview questions.
    • Photography. Annotations, copyright clearance, model release forms, location permissions.
  • Visual planning document.
    • Narrative film. Storyboards, animatic, blocking diagrams.
    • Documentary. Storyboards, animatic, lighting diagrams.
    • Music video. Storyboard, animatic, blocking diagrams.
    • Animation. Storyboard, animatic.
    • Radio drama. Flowchart detailing music, sound effects and dialogue.
    • Print. Mockups, typography, annotated lighting diagrams for photoshoots.
    • Photography. Mockups, lighting diagrams.
  • Codes and conventions. Depending on which medium you have selected, your production design plan should cover codes and conventions relevant to that media form. For example, if you are creating a video, you would comment on, where appropriate, how you intend to use camera techniques, acting, miss en scene, editing, lighting and sound.
  • Production notes. While you are undertaking your production, you are expected to make notes and keep a record of your progress. This might take the form of a dedicated production notebook or the dog-eared, annotated screenplay and shotlist that you were carrying around on location. These additional documents can be added to the back of your production design plan after production wraps but they must be clearly differentiated from the design plan itself. You are not permitted to change your plan in any way. Here are some examples of what your production notes might look like.

The criteria for the VCE Media School Assessed Task can be found on the VCAA website.

Production design plans are presented in a variety of different ways. Your teacher will tell you the way they prefer to have it organised – some schools use folios, others use folders with plastic pockets. How you organise your PDP will depend on your school and your teacher.