Film Production: Tips, Services, and Equipment

Entertainism Staff Oct 12, 2018
The complex process of film production and the intricacies of filmmaking are areas that pose as intriguing elements in the world of film. Read more to know how film production works..
Anybody can direct a picture once they know the fundamentals. Directing is not a mystery; it's not an art. The main thing about directing is: photograph the people's eyes. - Jon Ford
Although some movies are enjoyed, some are hated; many are analyzed for almost everything that is dished out on celluloid. Very rarely the movie enthusiasts sit down and think about the numerous facets of the film production process that go into the making of a complete film. Film-making is like any other form of art, and most of all a means of expression.
A story/narrative has to be transformed into an active screenplay, which is re-created by actors, captured through the camera and edited again to insert sound, special effects and create a seamless piece of film ready to be screened for audience.
The process of filmmaking can be divided into 4 stages:
  • Development
  • Pre-production
  • Production
  • Post-production

Development

At this stage, the hunt for a viable story for a film begins. The script can either be an original from a scriptwriter or can be inspired from a book, play or true story. Once the idea is finalized, a synopsis will be created.
The next step is sketching a step outline. Here, the entire story is broken down into one-paragraph scenes that are numbered and include indications for dialog and character interactions. The treatment for the film is also created describing about the film which is longer than the synopsis, but shorter and less detailed than the step outline.
Once the script is ready, it has to be transformed into a screenplay. The main difference between a script and a screenplay is that a script is narrative but a screenplay is a detailed description of every event and detail to be seen on screen. Screenplay is written and re-written to improvise characterization, dramatization and the overall style and feel.
After screenplay, the 'pitch' is made and presented to potential financiers for the film. If the pitch is triumphant, the movie gets the green light. Financial backing is offered, usually from a film studio, council, or in some cases, independent investors. After this, a deal is negotiated and all the official contracts are signed.

Pre-Production

Pre-production involves planning, which first requires setting up of a production company and an office. The entire screenplay is storyboarded by means of illustrators and concept artists.
Famous Indian director, Satyajit Ray, was known for his perfectionist attitude and was known to sketch his own storyboards for every scene with attention to the finest details that he wanted on the screen. After the story boarding, the pre-production process also involves hiring the film crew.
A Typical Crew Includes:
  • Director
  • Assistant director
  • Casting Director
  • Director of Photography
  • Location Manager
  • Art Director
  • Production Manager
  • Production Designer
  • Cameramen
  • Production Sound Mixer
  • Sound Designer
  • Composer
  • Choreographer
  • Make-up artists
  • Costume Designers
  • Property Master
  • Script Supervisor
  • Picture Editor

Production

The director is the captain of the ship. He is responsible for every step in the production process. This is the stage where the movie is actually shot. A typical shooting schedule starts when the sets are constructed with additional props; lighting and the camera and sound recording equipment are all in place.
In this time, actors get ready with costumes and make-up, rehearse dialogs and discuss blocking (precise movement and positioning) with the director.
The actors then have a live rehearsal with the picture and sound crews and the action is shot until the director gets the desired result. Every report sheet in all the departments, make it a point to record the important technical notes for every take.
If traditional photographic film is being used in the process, the negatives are sent to the film laboratory for processing and are then reviewed and edited. However, the advances in technology now enable easy review and digital editing of films on the computer with the help of latest software.

Post-production

The role of the film-editor is chiefly instrumental in the post-production process of filmmaking. Film editing work flow can be accomplished by 2 possible methods namely, 'film workflow' and 'video workflow'.
Film Workflow: In this process the original camera film which is also called the negative is developed and made into a one-light work print which is known as the positive. These positives or work prints are then edited using a mechanical editing machine. A simple edge code is marked onto the film to locate the positions of numerous picture frames.
Video Workflow: In this process the picture film or the negative is transferred into electronic form and then edited with various non-linear editing systems like Avid, Quantel, or Final Cut Pro. This is technically advanced method and hence is less time-consuming while rendering good quality.
The editor first chooses the best shots from the available options and manages to create a rough cut of the movie which is then polished and edited further to give the final cut of the film. Once the picture is ready, the film is forwarded to the sound department to create the soundtrack.
The final stage of the process is distribution of the film, which involves making copies of the movie according to the releasing requirement of cinema owners or sometimes the DVD/VCD or VHS distributors. The movie is advertised through press kits, posters, trailers and other possible media options that are convenient for the film producer.

Tips for Film Producers

  • Always plan ahead. The pre-production process is instrumental in shaping up of the entire movie. Plan every step carefully
  • Before finalizing a script, analyze it for its viability and possible target audience.
  • Always plan every step according to your production budget, do not go overboard, try to stick by the allotted production budget.
  • Plan your shooting schedule in advance and co-ordinate with the entire crew to maintain the workflow and complete the production of your film according to the plan.
  • Use special effects and audio tracks appropriately to enhance the visuals rather than being distracting.
  • Use production equipment that suits your requirements and fits your budget.
  • If you require help in specific departments, outsource services according to your requirement. For example the production equipment, editing services or even troupes of actors/extras can be hired.
No matter how big or small the film is, throw a wrap-up party for the entire cast and crew to watch the film and celebrate the completion of the successful venture!