the development process is, in my opinion, the most important part of the production process. i feel way too many take it lightly. a lot of young filmmakers focus on the finished product. a polished finished film is critical if you want to be taken seriously, but if people spent as much time in development as they did in after effects, the world of short film would have even more value than it does today.
the development process should really be spent developing story, developing a visual form around that story, and then acquiring the resources they needed to tell that story. this includes the marketing scheme, release structure, etc. if you don’t know where your film will play, then you don’t know who your audience is, and you don’t know how to speak to them.
there’s lots of great tools out there to use during the development phase. i can’t cover all of them, but i can at least point out a few things i’ve found helpful (and free).