…And Action! Project Planning Lessons from Film Production

Project Planning Lessons from Film Production

Making a commercial is a complex and rather expensive undertaking. This is why filming is planned very precisely, so the film is finished in time without breaking the budget. We asked the director of the new Jimdo TV commercial, David Aufdembrinke: What can you learn from making films that you can apply to your own projects? For example, building your own website?

In January our new commercials started running on TV. If you happen to be living in Germany, you may have seen them. At the end of November, we shot the film in two days under the direction of David Aufdembrinke in Hamburg. The Hamburg director has previously made music videos for Beginner (a famous German rap group) and the Beatsteaks!

Director David Aufdembrinke

Whilst filming for Jimdo, he directed over forty people at the location. Make-up, lighting, props, camera. Because it needs precise planning. Every unscheduled alteration, every forgotten prop—costs not only time but a lot of money. That’s why we asked David what we can learn about making films that we can successfully implement in our own projects.


1. Not without my storyboard

The storyboard shows each scene to be filmed, as a drawn sketch. Sometimes the storyboard is highly professional. And sometimes even famous directors help with stick figures. The most important aspect of the storyboard is to give you an accurate idea of what you want to shoot and how all the parts end up in the end. Because without an idea of the end result, the danger is quite high of getting tangled up on the way. Storyboards can actually be drawn for any project. Including a website. Simply start with a piece of paper and roughly sketch how you want to present the website. And if you don’t like the sketch, you can just throw it away and make a new one.

Writing a Storyboard


2. Schedule the “shooting time”

With the storyboard, I can estimate roughly how much time a shoot will take. This time is then scheduled as a rotation day. On these days there are only shoots. Having a defined timeframe for implementing a project is super-important. Only then can I concentrate fully on every detail. The funny thing about it is the time estimate is almost always right. I even think that a thing only takes so long as the time you give it. For example, if you have the feeling that you need a day to rework your website, it will probably take a day.


3. Small breaks and nerves of steel

Every shoot is pretty tightly organized—after all, there is a schedule that needs to be respected. And shoots can sometimes be quite long. Nevertheless, everyone must give their best to make it really good. That is why it’s important, even if it becomes stressful, to take enough breaks and ensure there’s good food and drink. This way the team keeps their concentration and good mood so everyone constantly gives their best (beer is only for after the shoot!). I believe fun and enthusiasm at work increase the quality and always ends up being noticeable in the film. This also applies to every other project.

Lessons from a film production


4. Simply push through

As soon as a shooting day begins, there’s no turning back. No more doubts are allowed. You just have to breathe in deeply and trust the process. Which means going through the to do list step by step and hoping the plan will work. Which it usually does.

And obviously, sometimes I only notice during shooting that an idea doesn’t go as I imagined. In this case, I can still improvise and try something new or drop the idea. I know, due to the solid preparation beforehand, exactly what is needed creatively and content-wise at this point. In the end, the only thing that matters is getting the film out the door. It’s worth remembering that the initial idea changes and evolves naturally on its long journey into being, thereby unfolding to its full potential.


5. That’s a wrap

The end of every shooting day ends with a tiny celebration. The entire team puts so much energy into the shoot that they deserve a hug at the very least. A beer is even better. Even if you work alone on your project, you shouldn’t forget to celebrate. Even if you just hug yourself. We deserve it!

In film, the work doesn’t end after filming. It only begins, because only when I’ve filmed can the film material be cut. That’s when I see whether the film was a success and my plan worked. Because as soon as you sit in the editing suite you’ve got to work with the filmed material you’ve got. This is easier with a Jimdo website, for example, which you can rework at any time.

Can David’s experiences in film production be transferred to your projects? Or how do you plan a project? Let us know in the comments!

Christian Riedel
Christian was the "Head of Story Team" responsible for the brand development of Jimdo before he moved on to new adventures in 2017 after many great years together. Recently, Christian designed the new Jimdo commercial and developed the Jimdo blog for you.