- Viknesh Silvalingam
Making a movie? The 7 stages of the filmmaking process
“TO MAKE A FILM IS EASY; TO MAKE A GOOD FILM IS WAR. TO MAKE A VERY GOOD FILM IS A MIRACLE.” - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (1*)
Film production is a lengthy task that requires a committed team working on the project at various stages of its lifespan. Some of them may even take decades to get off the ground even though it may have a legendary filmmaker like Martin Scorcese attached (2*).
If you are in the process of making a movie, you are probably aware of the 3 stages of film production, Pre Production, Production, and Post-production. It all depends on the scale of the project and what is expected. For the hobbyist short filmmakers, I will say yes the 3 above-mentioned stages directly concern them, however for feature films depending on your expectations from the project, we will have to further breakdown the process into 7 stages.
Below is a brief description of each of the 7 stages and the roles that play a part in it.
Development: The very first and most crucial part of the process requires someone yelling, "Hey I've got an idea for a movie!" This phase begins with fleshing out the story idea, coming up with a draft of the script, and figuring the cost of the project. This phase depending on the project's scale can be as short as a few days or if you end up in the dreaded development hell (3*), years!
Finance: This is often where a project will hit a brick wall really hard. Often it's been advised that to raise money for a project you need to be networking in the major filmmaking cities, where you will be rubbing shoulders with possible financiers. However, it's not that straightforward as often you would need to get into that circle of trust, a Catch-22(4*). Additionally, a lot of producers and actors travel to festivals, both domestic and international to show the project materials to possible investors(5*).
Pre-production: Once the financing is secured, you will get about hiring your production team (like the director of photography, assistant directors, unit production managers, and costume designers) This is truly the busiest part of the filmmaking process. A well thought thru pre-production will ensure a smooth production (6*). You will begin finalizing the shooting script, finding the shoot locations, shooting locations, equipment, and finalizing the production budget. On the creative front, the auditioning of actors will begin, fine-tuning of the screenplay, discussing with the cinematographer the look and feel of the film, and many other creative inputs. Finally, each department works with the line producer to break down what each field needs to properly execute the director's vision.
First assistant directors
Production: The beginning of the shoot. During this short timeframe, the additional crew will be hired(7*)—as a script supervisor to check for script continuity while filming, and a property master to acquire and oversee any of your film’s props. The hair, makeup, and costume departments will handle the actors' visual appearance. Your production coordinator will supervise the day-to-day and make sure all supplemental departments like catering, billing, and scheduling have the necessary resources to stay on track. Camera operators and grips will follow the shooting plan set by the director and cinematographer, capturing all the necessary footage. Picture and sound editors are also hired during this time, choosing the best takes of the day and assembling them into a sequence so that a rough cut is ready by the time filming ends.
This is the all hands on deck phase. Basically, everyone involved in the project will play a part at some point in the production phase. Such as
Hair and Makeup
Post-production: The most exciting part of the process where the editor together with the director will piece together the audio and visual materials to create a film. Some elements of filming, like pick-up shots, voiceover, or ADR may be included in the post-production phase. These elements are woven together to create a multi-sensory experience we call a movie.
Visual effects engineers
Marketing: In the case of a major production company, teasers are already out to promote the release date of the film. In other scenarios, promotional posters, festival screenings, and social media are best to help generate buzz for the film. If the production is small, the creatives involved with the film may have to wear this hat whether they like it or not, though it’s possible for producers to outsource to small marketing companies that do this for a living.
Public Relations Specialist
Distribution: Distribution is the final stage of production, which occurs after your movie has been edited, and is ready for viewing (10*). Promotional marketing will advertise the movie, and any commitments to investors and rights holders will be completed. Depending on your distribution deal, your film may be released into theaters, on DVD, or onto an alternative digital media platform.
Some responsibilities will carry over throughout the entire production, each stage has its own specific tasks that need to be completed before your film is ready for audiences. However, you may notice that the producers are involved in every stage. As some projects may take years to complete, it's very possible that certain discussions or information will be lost amongst the various emails or text messages (11*). Furthermore, the cost of having multiple software to keep track of all progress or lack thereof will be astronomical. These are the 2 problems that The Martini is looking to solve, a platform for a film project to live in throughout the duration of the filmmaking process.