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What is a Video Package and What’s Included in Film Packaging?

Who doesn’t enjoy a gift that’s wrapped up and ready to surprise them? We all love gifts, and that’s the idea behind film packaging – it’s like a gift that is given, in Hollywood terms. But what is a video package exactly and how is it delivered to the studio.

If you’re thinking about film or video packaging and what comes to mind is a film reel that’s wrapped up with fancy paper, tape and a bow – you’re wrong. But, if you’re thinking about multiple creative elements of a film that are prepared and ordered together in order to present to the studio executive with the intention of securing a green light on producing the project – you’re dead right.

What is a Video Package?

A video package is actually an incredibly important part of the motion picture production process and it’s absolutely vital that industry experts understand what’s involved in packaging a film and what’s included in a standard film package. Packaging a film means that the necessary elements required to encourage financing of the film are in order and prepared for presentation to the financier. Technically though, there are two stages involved in the creation of a video package. 

  1. Preparing Development Packaging
  2. Preparing Pre-Production Packaging. 

What is Development Packaging for a Film?

Development packaging of a motion picture exists as a means of preparing and packaging the preexisting rights to a motion picture work in preparation for production. With the development package, you’re going to include:

  • Any rights that have been obtained to the pre-existing or underlying works which will ultimately become a film. This includes acquiring rights to the novel, book, life story, play or other work that forms the basis for the proposed motion picture script.
  • The original work or idea that is behind the intention to create a screenplay. Creating a screenplay that is complete, viable, and financially valuable is important here. 

Essentially, the film’s packaging will make it easy for the next decision maker to accept the project, say “YES” and move forward with the next stage in production.  When the film packaging is in development stage, you’re really just preparing the documentation of rights that have been obtained to produce the story, and the initial screenplay idea that will be used to obtain interest & investments from financiers as well as various others as the video package progresses through the various channels in preparation for production. In other words, the film’s packaging really depends on who owns the wrapping paper! As it progresses through ownership, so too does what’s included and how it is presented.

What is Pre-Production Packaging for a Film?

As we look to answer the question, “What is a video package” it’s important to understand that packaging varies based on ownership and the stage in which the film is in the production process. The closer to greenlighting the film gets, the more documentation and essential elements will be included in the film package. Essentially, the pre-production packaging is to attract production investments in order to greenlight the film.

The pre-production packaging for a film includes all elements that are required in order to encourage a film financier to make a commitment to produce a motion picture project. Thus, the pre-production packaging will include whatever creatives are most likely to result in a financial commitment from the financier. This may include the script, a letter of intent from the Director or letters of intent from the individual star actors that have committed to the production.

Pre-production packaging typically comes after the development. At this point, the original screenplay has been written and steps can be taken to seek talent that will commit to the project. This way, the packaging of the film can focus on building the film idea up so that the financier can see value in that others are interested in the story.

Ways of Packaging a Film

There are a variety of ways in which parties can be involved in the packaging of a film. The primary purpose of packaging a film is to tie together the creatives, and the professional parties involved in a production. At minimum, most of the time a video package will include the bare bones essentials that makeup the initial ideas behind a film, the proof of rights that were obtained in order to produce the film, and the letters of intent from those that are behind the film and have made preliminary commitments to being involved in the production.

When producing a video package, the contracts that are involved in naming parties that are tied to the production are included. These contracts may tie named individuals to specific roles of the production.  Packaging a film like this, early on, is a way for some to maintain control over a project, particularly when they had heavy involvement in the early days of development. Although roles might change, and the production company might sell the rights to the project in the future, the purchasing entity would still have to either contract with the named individuals for the roles or compensate them accordingly if they intend to use someone else for a role.

So what is a video package? It’s essentially a chain of contracts, documentation, and important data that is use to present the project to the next in line in the production process in order to achieve the greenlight for a film’s production. Film packaging begins in development, with the screenplay idea and initial rights release and continues to grow with additional contracts and key details based largely on what documentation is most useful in achieving the necessary investments from financiers in order to get a film into production.