Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Production Process

A movie or television program begins with the kernel of an idea, an image, or some small piece of a story or character. From there, the original concept is built into a working story treatment. The treatment is developed into a screenplay, and the screenplay is made into a movie.

A film or television program is the sum of its parts. The making of a film depends on each person, each player, and each contributor individually. If one link in the process of making the film is weak, the entire aspect of the film is weakened.

There are a number of steps any film project takes before it shows up at your local theatre. They are:

 Development
 Pre-Production
 Production
 Post-Production
 Marketing and Distribution


During this phase, a script is drafted by or bought from a writer. The screenplay may go through several drafts and rewrites, but once the producer is satisfied with the working screenplay, a preliminary shooting budget is established. This budget must take into account the cost of equipment, film stock, talent, set design, locations, etc. Simultaneously, the producer will line up the project’s key personnel: the director, cinematographer, production manager, production designer, location scout and talent.

Still in the development phase, the producer will approach funding agencies, larger corporations and personal contacts to raise money for further development and production. The producer must be able to “sell” the story and creative talent in order to green light the project.


Once the development phase is complete, the project moves into pre-production. This is the preparatory or primary planning stage. One of the first things a producer does is set up the production office and start hiring and running a dedicated production staff.

It is during pre-production that costumes and sets are designed, the remaining crew hired and locations scouted and chosen. Shooting schedules are also developed and casting continues. Absolutely everything that can be done prior to principal photography is considered.


Production is the “active” process of making a film or television program. The script is put to the camera, in studio and on location, with actors, full costume, make-up, lights and sound. It is often referred to as “principal photography”. This stage is expensive, time-consuming and requires extensive financial and logistical planning.


Post is the compilation phase. The director and/or producer will work with the picture and sound editors putting together the hundreds of shots and sounds taken during principal photography. This is when special effects are added and shots are adjusted technically, aesthetically and for greater narrative impact. Dialogue is fine-tuned. Soundtrack and audio effects are matched to the visual content. Slowly, the film goes from a rough cut to the finished, polished, final version that audiences will see in theatres.

Marketing and Distributing

Once the picture is completed and approved, it is marketed and distributed. If the producer has already lined up a distributor, the movie will be marketed using advertising in the theatres, television, radio, print media and online. This process builds an audience for the film even before it is released. Marketing is part skill, part guesswork and definitely creative. Good marketing can make a small film into a huge success. It can also leave a giant, expensive film floundering

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