Film production is a hard job. But, if you understand the stages clearly, it becomes a lot easier. Film production is one of the things that the audience doesn’t care much about or sometimes is not aware of. However, this is understandable given that few of us are interested in the process of making a film and are far more concerned with the finished product. But, as a filmmaker, you must understand the stages of production to make a good film. This indeed requires a well-organized production, for which one has to understand the nitty-gritties of each stage of production. So, without any further ado, let’s understand the different stages of production and processes involved in it.
What Does Film Production Actually Mean?
Film production is a process that can take months or even years. It basically represents the whole process, from writing the script from scratch to the distribution of the finished film. And evidently, each stage of the production is important for shooting a 2 or 3-hour film. While the general public only experiences the end product on their screen, it is the film crew that knows the hell that they went through to make a film. So, what does film production actually mean to a filmmaker? Everything!
Stages of Film Production
Film production consists of many steps. They also have many sections within. If you want to simplify things, there are approximately five main stages of film production and we are going to discuss the same.
Development: This stage is basically the birthplace of your project. At this stage, all the planning takes place. From writing the first draft of the script to drafting a preliminary budget for the film, all things are taken care of at this stage. This is one of the longest stages in film production, as development can take months or even years. The number of crew members involved in the development stage is quite minimal compared to the other stages of production. Here, the filmmaker discusses the script and other foundational things with a selected number of people. The development stage sets up the platform for the next crucial step: Pre-production. The months or years of sorting out all the creative and financial aspects of a film are now ready for the next stage.
Pre-production: When you feel like your project is ready, you’ll create a production team for it. There will be casting directors, cinematographers, budget experts, scriptwriters, location scouts, and basically a much larger team. The most important parts of pre-production are casting, location scouting, and budget allocation. Scripts are mostly covered in the development stage. Here they are corrected or improvised many times due to many different reasons. The pre-production can last for months. Casting takes most of the time as you need to find the right actor for your film. Also, allocating a location for shooting can be tricky.
Pre-production includes prop shopping, wardrobe, set design, pre-visualization, pre-lighting, and pre-composition. For a young crew who are starting deliberately for the first time, pre-production is a good time to bond. In the development stage, as there is no rush, there is less focus. But, here in the pre-production stage, the focus is amplified as the shoot date is set. The director, writer, actor, and all the crew members work hard together and thus have a favorable opportunity to bond with each other before going on the battleground, i.e., the shooting ground.
Production: This stage is the exam hall of your film. Whatever you have planned, now is the time for execution. Production is the busiest stage of all. In production, there are some key responsibilities assigned to some roles:
- Line Producer: One of the toughest jobs in production. A line producer is responsible for almost everything that is going on on the set. He is responsible for hiring the crew, setting up the dates, and, craziest of them all, making sure that the whole production team is running smoothly. From budget problems to legal issues, a line producer’s job gets tougher with each passing day in production.
- First Assistant Director: A First Assistant Director has quite a big responsibility in terms of filmmaking. He plays the role of a middleman on the set. But, there is a slight twist here. He is not only the middleman between the director and the assistant director, but he is the middleman almost everywhere. He needs to take care of the set so that the director doesn’t complain about anything. He needs to consult with the art department, music department, and wardrobe department to maintain the balance everywhere. He also needs to communicate with the actors closely to see if they are comfortable throughout the making of the film.
- Production Designer: A good production designer is responsible for a good final product. He looks after the environment the story represents. To create a set, the production designer will have to consider things like the budget of the project, the nature of the story, and whether the set is practical or designed for visual effects, etc. He will have to face many problems regarding this, such as the size of the set, the lighting, the background, the placement of props, and other materials. A production designer’s job is mostly about thinking about being creative while taking into consideration the budget and the concept as well.
Post-production: You have written a script, hired some actors, gone for the shoot, and everything is done. Now, what’s left is to edit your film. This is what post-production is all about. Post-production starts while the shooting of the film is still going on. This process helps the maker understand whether there is a problem or not in a particular sequence. Editing your clips before completing the shoot helps you locate problems. This will let you take some shots later without interrupting the original schedule. From voice-over to VFX inputs, all are done during post-production.
Distribution: All is done and dusted. Your film is ready. Your work is almost done as a filmmaker. Now, the most important part is marketing your film. Some might argue that this is not the creative part, but remember, if you don’t have a distribution strategy, all the other 4 stages will have no value whatsoever. All the hard work you have done so far is solely dependent on a good distribution strategy. If this fails, everything falls apart. The most important stage of all, the planning for distribution, mostly starts in the stage of pre-production. A budget is separately planned for this.
So, this is an overall idea of what film production looks like. There are so many minute details that make a film production great. We will talk about them later, sometime.