Convincing other people that your project is worth investing in is a challenge in and of itself. Sometimes, pitching an idea when it’s at the stage where it is still just an idea makes for a harder sale than if you had something to actually show as a product. While it is not common for amateur filmmakers to have something beyond visual reference or perhaps a storyboard when pitching a project, there is always the possibility of developing what is known as a proof of concept. Here, we will go over the process of developing these pieces and some considerations about the process.
What is a proof of concept?
Simply put, a proof of concept is a sample of what your eventual project might look like. In principle, it serves a double purpose: first, making a practical, creative exercise out of turning the idea into an actual product; and second, obtaining said product to show to potential producers and investors who might be interested in your work.
Speaking in practical terms, the proof of concept is not quite a trailer, but more like a teaser. It is merely a quick look at how some key elements of your project might come to be, whether they’re aesthetic aspects, VFX, ensemble casts, or anything that needs to be seen to be better appreciated.
Why should you do a proof of concept?
A proof of concept is something you want to consider doing when you have an idea that might be a bit too complicated to explain accurately with verbal descriptions alone. While it is true that good ideas should be simple enough to communicate effectively, it is also true that we shouldn’t hinder complexity in pro of easy marketing.
There is a solution for everything, luckily, and if you find yourself with what you think is a golden idea but a tough sale, a proof of concept can help you drive your point across. You should have three objectives in mind when thinking about developing such a piece: showing people what you’re working on, figuring out what you’re working on, and rethinking what you’re working on.
The first objective is pretty self-explanatory and the most apparent of all. Your goal is to come out with an actual audiovisual sample that shows your target team and investors what you’re talking about. Be sure to capture the key visual bits, the tone of the movie, and any other element you feel strongly about in this proof of concept.
While working on this mini project, the second objective also becomes your main challenge. Defining and ironing out the details of your story and concepts are necessary steps in every filmmaking process. Even for this pilot episode or teaser trailer of sorts, you might end up realizing that things you thought worked just fine on paper, don’t necessarily work as well on screen. Don’t be afraid of questioning things. Now is the time to do it.
In fact, questioning things is almost inevitable when you start to put more thought and care into a film you’re actually trying to make. Rethinking some scenes, character relationships, or very particular elements of your story is part of the process as well. Change is sometimes necessary and even beneficial. Shooting a proof of concept gives you the opportunity to get ahead of yourself (in a good way), and prevent potential conflicts on the set of the actual film.