A Pre-Production Checklist For Filmmakers (Locations Are A Priority) by Josephina Sykes

Film Courage: Do you make a pre-production checklist?

Josephina Sykes, Filmmaker: Absolutely. We always start with a schedule and the budget. We are looking for locations, locking in locations as soon as you can because that’s very important for us. 

In general if you don’t have the right location then you are in trouble and I don’t think you want to leave that for the last minute.

And then we start to do casting (the casting process) and then crewing up. And obviously you always set a date ahead of time Hey this is when I’d like to shoot.

So if you have the location locked you kind of set the date by making the deal and locking that. Sure that can be stressful because you’ve already put some money down and you’ve rented something. But at the same time you kind of can’t stop that train from going. So yes we do casting, that is something that we take seriously. And also you either call the people you work with or you interview people for other positions, different collaborators and that’s how we do it.

Once we cast we do rehearsals, we meet department heads before the shoot and make sure that everything is in place and we’re available to everybody 24 hours a day for questions and meetings.

We try to have as many things locked in place as possible, but you always have to be flexible for things that can come up. Somebody can drop out last minute, it’s always something like that. That’s why I always have more resumes around because you never know who you might have to replace last minute or something can fall through…(Watch the video on Youtube here).



Born in Bucharest, Romania, Josephina fell in love with film from a young age, encouraged by her uncle, a Director of Photography for the National Television channel. Spending her childhood on soundstages and screening rooms created a passion for storytelling that led her to attend the National Film School in 1995. While there, she organized international film festivals, worked as a copywriter, and wrote several 35mm shorts. She also spent a semester at La FEMIS film school in Paris, France in 1998 after being awarded a scholarship by the French Foreign Ministry. After graduating with a major in screenwriting, she worked for the country’s two largest film studios, Castel Film and Media Pro Pictures. Since relocating to Los Angeles in 2001, Josephina continued to work in film, both as a screenwriter and in production on indie features including BACK BY MIDNIGHT, LORD OF THE VAMPIRES, THE HALFWAY HOUSE and GRAND JUNCTION. In 2004, together with her husband, writer/director Brad Sykes, founded Nightfall Pictures, a full-service development and production company. She has since produced four feature films, thriller WITHIN THE WOODS, drama COLD ONES (starring C. Thomas Howell and Geoffrey Lewis) and the sci-fi actioner MUTATION.




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