Filmmaking

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Filmmaking (or, in any context, film production) is the process by which a film is made. Filmmaking involves a number of complex and discrete stages including an initial story, idea, or commission, through screenwriting, casting, shooting, sound recording and pre-production, editing, and screening the finished product before an audience that may result in a film release and an exhibition. Filmmaking takes place in many places around the world in a range of economic, social, and political contexts, and using a variety of technologies and cinematic techniques.

Contents

Stages of production

Film production consists of five major stages: [1]

Development

This stage has both general and specific components. Every year, each Film Studio has a retreat in which their top Creative Executives meet and discuss a variety of areas and subject matters they wish to explore through collaborations with Producers and Screenwriters and then ultimately Directors and Actors/Actresses. They choose trending topics from the media and real life, as well as many other sources to determine their yearly agenda. In a year when Action is a hot topic they may wish to explore that area in a movie. At times, they purchased the rights to articles, bestselling novels, plays, remaking older films, stories with some basis in real life through a person or event, a video game, fairy tale, comic book, graphic novel. Research through surveys at times inform their decisions. They may have had Blockbusters from their previous year and wish to explore a sequel. They will additionally acquire a completed Independently financed and produced film, such famous examples are "Little Miss Sunshine" and "The English Patient" as well as "Roma".

While studios do take general meetings from Producers and Screenwriters about original story ideas, ″In my decade working as a writer, I knew of only a few that were sold and fewer that made it to the screen,″ relays Writer-Director-Writing Professor Wayne Powers (The Italian Job). Alan Watt, Writer-Director and Founder of The LA Writer's Lab confirmed that original screenplays, completed, for sale, "Specs" as they are referred to, make big news when they sell but these make up a very small portion of movies that are ultimately given the "Green Light" by the President of a studio to be produced.

So, the executives return from the retreat with fairly well established marching orders. These concepts of interest they spread through the industry community, especially to Producers they have "Deals" with (traditional studios will have those producers in offices on their lots). Also, Agents for screenwriters are made aware. This results, usually, with a pairing of popular producers with popular writers and either together or the Screenwriter alone will develop a "take" an "approach", a basic story idea that utilizes the already decided upon "arena". Often it is a competition with several pairings meeting with studio executives and "Pitching" their "Take". Very few writing jobs are from original idea brought to studios by producers or writers. Perhaps one movie a year will be a "Spec" script that was purchased.

Once a producer and or a writer has sold their approach to the desired subject matter, they begin to work. However, many writers, producers and years usually pass before a particular concept is realized in a way that is awarded a "Green Light ' to production. "The Unforgiven" which earned Oscars for its Director/Star Clint Eastwood, as well as its Screenwriter, David Webb Peoples, took 15 years to get a "Green Light". Powers related that "The Italian Job" took approximately eight years from concept to screen, which, as Powers added, "is average." And most concepts turned into paid screenplays, wind up gathering dust on some executives shelf, never to see production.

Writers have different styles and creative processes; some have stronger track records than others. So how the development process proceeds from there and how much detail a writer returns to the studio to divulge before beginning writing can vary greatly. Screenwriters are fiercely protected by the power union The Writers Guild Of America. The WGA allows a screenwriter to contract for One Draft, One Revision and One Polish. Bob Eisle, Writer and Member of the Guild Board states, "Additional writing requires extension of contracts and payment for additional work". They are paid 80% of their fee after the First Draft. Preliminary discussions are minimal with studio executives but might be quite detailed with the producer. However, a writer is a writer and an effective producer does not impose anything but rather sets a supportive creative atmosphere.

Next, a screenwriter writes a screenplay over a period of several months, or however long it takes. Deadlines are in their contracts but there is no pressure to adhere to them. Again, every writer's process and speed varies. The screenwriter may rewrite the script several times to improve dramatization, clarity, structure, characters, dialogue, and overall style.

Script Coverage, a freelance job held by recent University graduates, does not feed scripts into the system that are ready for production nor already produced. "Coverage" is a way for young screenwriters to be read and their ideas might make their way up to an executive or famous producer and result in "Meet and Greets" where relations with up and comers can be formed. But it is not historically yielded ideas studios pursue into production.

The studio is the film distributor who at an early stage attempts to choose a slate of concepts that are likely to have market appeal and find potential financial success. Hollywood distributors consider factors such as the film genre, the target audience and assumed audience, the historical success of similar films, the actors who might appear in the film, and potential directors. All these factors imply a certain appeal of the film to a possible audience. Not all films make a profit from the theatrical release alone, however, the studio mainly targets the opening weekend and the second weekend to make most domestic profits. Occasionally, a film called a "Word of Mouth Film" does not market strongly but its success spreads by word of mouth. It slowly gains its audience. These are special circumstances and these films may remain in theaters 5 months while a typical film run is closer to 5 weekends. Further earnings result from pay TV purchases, foreign market purchases and DVD sales to establish worldwide distribution Gross of a Film.

Once a screenplay is "Green Lit" directors and actors are attached and the film proceeds into the pre-production stage. Although; very often the Development stage and the Pre-Production stage overlap.

Analogous to almost any business venture, financing of a film project deals with the study of filmmaking as the management and procurement of investments. It includes the dynamics of assets that are required to fund the filmmaking and liabilities incurred during the filmmaking over the time period from early development through the management of profits and losses after distribution under conditions of different degrees of uncertainty and risk. The practical aspects of filmmaking finance can also be defined as the science of the money management of all phases involved in filmmaking. Film finance aims to price assets based on their risk level and their expected rate of return based upon anticipated profits and protection against losses.

Pre-production

In pre-production, every step of actually creating the film is carefully designed and planned. This is the phase where one would narrow down all the options of the production. It is where all the planning takes place before the camera rolls and sets the overall vision of the project. The production company is created and a production office established. The film is pre-visualized by the director and may be storyboarded with the help of illustrators and concept artists. A production budget is drawn up to plan expenditures for the film. For major productions, insurance is procured to protect against accidents. Pre-production also includes working out the shoot location and casting process. The Producer hires a Line Manager or a Production Manager to create the schedule and budget for the film.

The nature of the film, and the budget, determine the size and type of crew used during filmmaking. Many Hollywood blockbusters employ a cast and crew of hundreds, while a low-budget, independent film may be made by a skeleton crew of eight or nine (or fewer). These are typical crew positions:

Production

Steven Spielberg (standing) with Chandran Rutnam in Sri Lanka, during the production of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (released 1984) Steven Spielberg with Chandran Rutnam in Sri Lanka.jpg
Steven Spielberg (standing) with Chandran Rutnam in Sri Lanka, during the production of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (released 1984)

In production, the film is created and shot. In this phase it is key to keep planning ahead of the daily shoot. The primary aim is to stick to the budget and schedule, this requires constant vigilance. More crew will be recruited at this stage, such as the property master, script supervisor, assistant directors, stills photographer, picture editor, and sound editors. These are just the most common roles in filmmaking; the production office will be free to create any unique blend of roles to suit the various responsibilities possible during the production of a film. Communication is key between the location, set, office, production company, distributors and all other parties involved.

A typical day shooting begins with the crew arriving on the set/location by their call time. Actors usually have their own separate call times. Since set construction, dressing and lighting can take many hours or even days, they are often set up in advance.

The grip, electric and production design crews are typically a step ahead of the camera and sound departments: for efficiency's sake, while a scene is being filmed, they are already preparing the next one.

While the crew prepares their equipment, the actors do their costumes and attend the hair and make-up departments. The actors rehearse the script and blocking with the director, and the camera and sound crews rehearse with them and make final tweaks. Finally, the action is shot in as many takes as the director wishes. Most American productions follow a specific procedure:

The assistant director (AD) calls "picture is up!" to inform everyone that a take is about to be recorded, and then "quiet, everyone!" Once everyone is ready to shoot, the AD calls "roll sound" (if the take involves sound), and the production sound mixer will start their equipment, record a verbal slate of the take's information, and announce "sound speed", or just "speed", when they are ready. The AD follows with "roll camera", answered by "speed!" by the camera operator once the camera is recording. The clapper, who is already in front of the camera with the clapperboard, calls "marker!" and slaps it shut. If the take involves extras or background action, the AD will cue them ("action background!"), and last is the director, telling the actors "action!". The AD may echo "action" louder on large sets.

A take is over when the director calls "Cut!" and the camera and sound stop recording. The script supervisor will note any continuity issues, and the sound and camera teams log technical notes for the take on their respective report sheets. If the director decides additional takes are required, the whole process repeats. Once satisfied, the crew moves on to the next camera angle or "setup," until the whole scene is "covered." When shooting is finished for the scene, the assistant director declares a "wrap" or "moving on," and the crew will "strike," or dismantle, the set for that scene.

At the end of the day, the director approves the next day's shooting schedule and a daily progress report is sent to the production office. This includes the report sheets from continuity, sound, and camera teams. Call sheets are distributed to the cast and crew to tell them when and where to turn up the next shooting day. Later on, the director, producer, other department heads, and, sometimes, the cast, may gather to watch that day or yesterday's footage, called dailies , and review their work.

With workdays often lasting 14 or 18 hours in remote locations, film production tends to create a team spirit. When the entire film is "in the can", or in the completion of the production phase, it is customary for the production office to arrange a wrap party, to thank all the cast and crew for their efforts.

For the production phase on live-action films, synchronizing work schedules of key cast and crew members is very important, since for many scenes, several cast members and most of the crew, must be physically present at the same place at the same time (and bankable stars may need to rush from one project to another). Animated films have different workflow at the production phase, in that voice actors can record their takes in the recording studio at different times and may not see one another until the film's premiere, while most physical live-action tasks are either unnecessary or are simulated by various types of animators.

Post-production

This stage starts when principal film production ends, but they may overlap. The bulk of post-production consists of reviewing the footage and assembling the movie and taking it to the next step that is editing. Here the video/film is assembled by the film editor. The shot film material is edited. The production sound (dialogue) is also edited; music tracks and songs are composed and recorded if a film is sought to have a score; sound effects are designed and recorded. Any computer-graphic visual effects are digitally added by an artist. Finally, all sound elements are mixed into "stems", which are then married to the picture, and the film is fully completed ("locked").


Distribution

This is the last stage, where the film is released to cinemas or, occasionally, directly to consumer media (VHS, VCD, DVD, Blu-ray) or direct download from a digital media provider. The film is duplicated as required (either onto film or hard disk drives) and distributed to cinemas for exhibition (screening). Press kits, posters, and other advertising materials are published, and the film is advertised and promoted. A B-roll clip may be released to the press based on raw footage shot for a "making of" documentary, which may include making-of clips as well as on-set interviews.separate from those of the production company or distributor. For major films, key personnel are often contractually required to participate in promotional tours in which they appear at premieres and festivals and sit for interviews with many TV, print, and online journalists. The largest productions may require more than one promotional tour, in order to rejuvenate audience demand at each release window.

Since the advent of home video in the early 1980s, most major films have followed a pattern of having several distinct release windows. A film may first be released to a few select cinemas, or if it tests well enough, may go directly into wide release. Next, it is released, normally at different times several weeks (or months) apart, into different market segments like rental, retail, pay-per-view, in-flight entertainment, cable, satellite, or free-to-air broadcast television. The distribution rights for the film are also usually sold for worldwide distribution. The distributor and the production company share profits and manage losses.

Independent filmmaking

Sound recordist Curtis Choy (left) on location for Dim Sum: a Little Bit of Heart, an indie film by director Wayne Wang (center) on Clement Street in the Richmond District of San Francisco, California 1983 Sound recordist Curtis Choy.jpg
Sound recordist Curtis Choy (left) on location for Dim Sum: a Little Bit of Heart, an indie film by director Wayne Wang (center) on Clement Street in the Richmond District of San Francisco, California 1983
Pertti "Spede" Pasanen, a Finnish film director and producer, had a long, strained relationship with Finnish Film Foundation, a government-financed film-funding organisation which continuously refused to fund his movies, so many of his works are independent films. Pertti-Pasanen-1969.jpg
Pertti "Spede" Pasanen, a Finnish film director and producer, had a long, strained relationship with Finnish Film Foundation, a government-financed film-funding organisation which continuously refused to fund his movies, so many of his works are independent films.

Filmmaking also takes place outside of the mainstream and is commonly called independent filmmaking. Since the introduction of DV technology, the means of production have become more democratized and economically viable. Filmmakers can conceivably shoot and edit a film, create and edit the sound and music, and mix the final cut on a home computer. However, while the means of production may be democratized, financing, traditional distribution, and marketing remain difficult to accomplish outside the traditional system. In the past, most independent filmmakers have relied on film festivals (such as Sundance, Venice, Cannes, and Toronto film festivals) to get their films noticed and sold for distribution and production. However, the Internet has allowed for the relatively inexpensive distribution of independent films on websites such as YouTube. As a result, several companies have emerged to assist filmmakers in getting independent movies seen and sold via mainstream internet marketplaces, often adjacent to popular Hollywood titles. With internet movie distribution, independent filmmakers who choose to forgo a traditional distribution deal now have the ability to reach global audiences.

See also

Related Research Articles

Film crew

A film crew is a group of people, hired by a production company, for the purpose of producing a film or motion picture. The crew is distinguished from the cast as the cast are understood to be the actors who appear in front of the camera or provide voices for characters in the film. The crew is also separate from the producers as the producers are the ones who own a portion of either the film studio or the film's intellectual property rights. A film crew is divided into different departments, each of which specializes in a specific aspect of the production. Film crew positions have evolved over the years, spurred by technological change, but many traditional jobs date from the early 20th century and are common across jurisdictions and filmmaking cultures.

Storyboard

A storyboard is a graphic organizer that consists of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualising a motion picture, animation, motion graphic or interactive media sequence. The storyboarding process, in the form it is known today, was developed at Walt Disney Productions during the early 1930s, after several years of similar processes being in use at Walt Disney and other animation studios.

Screenplay written work by screenwriters that expresses the actions and dialogue in a film or television program

A screenplay, or script, is a written work by screenwriters for a film, television program, or video game. These screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression and dialogues of the characters are also narrated. A screenplay written for television is also known as a teleplay.

Animator Person who makes animated sequences out of still images

An animator is an artist who creates multiple images, known as frames, which give an illusion of movement called animation when displayed in rapid sequence. Animators can work in a variety of fields including film, television, and video games. Animation is closely related to filmmaking and like filmmaking is extremely labor-intensive, which means that most significant works require the collaboration of several animators. The methods of creating the images or frames for an animation piece depend on the animators' artistic styles and their field.

A film producer is a person who oversees film production. Either employed by a production company or working independently, producers plan and coordinate various aspects of film production, such as selecting the script; coordinating writing, directing, editing; and arranging financing.

"Below-the-line" is a term derived from the top sheet of a film budget for motion pictures, television programs, industrial films, independent films, student films and documentaries as well as commercials. The "line" in "below-the-line" refers to the separation of production costs between script and story writers, producers, directors, actors, and casting and the rest of the crew, or production team.

Opening credits The list of the most important members of a film TV, or video game production shown at the beginning of the work

In a motion picture, television program or video game, the opening credits or opening titles are shown at the very beginning and list the most important members of the production. They are now usually shown as text superimposed on a blank screen or static pictures, or sometimes on top of action in the show. There may or may not be accompanying music. When opening credits are built into a separate sequence of their own, the correct term is title sequence.

The role of an assistant director on a film includes tracking daily progress against the filming production schedule, arranging logistics, preparing daily call sheets, checking cast and crew, and maintaining order on the set. They also have to take care of the health and safety of the crew. The role of an assistant to the director is often confused with assistant director but the responsibilities are entirely different. The assistant to the director manages all of the directors in development, pre-production, while on set, through post-production and is often involved in both personal management as well as creative aspects of the production process.

Script breakdown

A script breakdown is an intermediate step in the production of a play, film, comic book, or any other work that is originally planned using a script.

Principal photography is the phase of film production in which the bulk of the movie is filmed, with actors on set and cameras rolling, as distinct from pre-production and post-production.

In filmmaking, dailies are the raw, unedited footage shot during the making of a motion picture. They are thus referred to because usually at the end of each day, the footage is developed, synced to sound, and printed on film in a batch for viewing the next day by the director, for selected actors and film crew members. Dailies serve as an indication of how the filming and the actors' performances are progressing.

A production company, production house, production studio, or a production team is a business that provides the physical basis for works in the fields of performing arts, new media art, film, television, radio, comics, interactive arts, video games, websites, music, and video. Production teams consist of technical staff to produce the media. Generally the term refers to all individuals responsible for the technical aspects of creating a particular product, regardless of where in the process their expertise is required, or how long they are involved in the project. For example, in a theatrical performance, the production team includes not only the running crew, but also the theatrical producer, designers and theatrical direction.

Television crew positions are derived from those of film crew, but with several differences.

A script supervisor is a member of a film crew who oversees the continuity of the motion picture including wardrobe, props, set dressing, hair, makeup and the actions of the actors during a scene. The notes recorded by the script supervisor during the shooting of a scene are used to help the editor cut the scene. They are also responsible for keeping track of the film production unit's daily progress. The script supervisor credit typically appears in the closing credits of a motion picture. Script supervisors are a department head and play a crucial role in the shooting of a film. It is the script supervisor's job to monitor the camera shots, seeking to maintain coherence between the scenes.

In filmmaking, a pick-up is a small, relatively minor shot filmed or recorded after the fact to augment footage already shot. When entire scenes are redone, it is referred to as a re-shoot or additional photography.

Film director Person who controls the artistic and dramatic aspects of a film production

A film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects and visualizes the screenplay while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfilment of that vision. The director has a key role in choosing the cast members, production design and all the creative aspects of filmmaking. Under European Union law, the director is viewed as the author of the film.

Film Sequence of images that give the impression of movement, stored on film stock

A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere through the use of moving images. These images are generally accompanied by sound, and more rarely, other sensory stimulations. The word "cinema", short for cinematography, is often used to refer to filmmaking and the film industry, and to the art form that is the result of it.

Articles related to the field of motion pictures include:

Berlinale Talents is the annual summit and networking platform of the Berlin International Film Festival for 250 outstanding creatives from the fields of film and drama series, with the events taking place in February at the three venues of HAU Hebbel am Ufer Theatre in Berlin-Kreuzberg.

This glossary of motion picture terms is a list of definitions of terms and concepts related to motion pictures, filmmaking, cinematography, and the film industry in general.

References

  1. Steiff, Josef (2005). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Independent Filmmaking. Alpha Books. pp. 26–28.
  2. 1 2 Sound-On-Film by Vincent LoBrutto (1994)
  3. Sound for Digital Video by Tomlinson Holman (Focal Press) 2005 (p. 162)
  4. Dialogue Editing for Motion Pictures by John Purcell (Focal Press) 2007 (p. 148)
  5. Film Sound: Theory and Practice, Edited by Elisabeth Weis and John Belton, Columbia University Press (1985). p. 361
  6. Pertti Pasanen (1930-2001) – Authors Calendar