Filmmaking

From Academic Kids

Filmmaking is the act of making a movie using a film recording medium.

The nature of the film determines the size and type of crew required during filmmaking. Many Hollywood adventure films need computer generated imagery (CGI), created by dozens of 3D modellers, animators, rotoscopers and compositors. However, a low-budget, independent film may be made with a skeleton crew, often paid very little. Filmmaking takes place all over the world using different technologies, styles of acting and genre, and is produced in a variety of economic contexts that range from state-sponsored documentary in China to profit-oriented movie making within the American studio system.

Stages of filmmaking

The filmmaking production cycle comprises five main stages:

  1. Development
  2. Preproduction
  3. Production
  4. Post-production
  5. Distribution

An entire Hollywood-style production cycle typically takes three years. The first year is taken up with development. The second year comprises preproduction and production. The third year, post-production and distribution.

Development

This is the stage where an idea is fleshed out into a viable script. The producer of the movie will find a story, which may be from books, other films, true stories, original ideas, etc. Once the theme, or underlying message, has been identified, a synopsis will be prepared.

This is followed by a step outline, which breaks the story down into one-paragraph scenes, concentrating on the dramatic structure. A treatment is produced, a 25- to 30-page description of the story, its mood, and characters, with little dialog and stage direction, often containing drawings to help visualize the key points.

A distributor will be contacted to assess the likely market for the particular genre of the movie.

The screenplay is then written over a period of perhaps six months, and may be rewritten several times to improve the dramatization, clarity, structure, characters, dialog, and overall style.

The movie pitch is then prepared and directors are approached to see if the movie can be continued. If the pitch is successful, then financial backing will be required from a major studio, film council or independent investors. The deal is negotiated, and contracts signed.

Preproduction

In preproduction, the movie is designed and planned. The production company is created and a production office established. The production will be storyboarded and budgets allocated. The shooting schedule will also be drawn up at this stage.

The production sets, costumes, makeup, music, and sound will all be designed, and the crew will be recruited for the following roles:

  • The director is responsible for the overall look and feel of the movie. A director is usually the primary creative force behind a motion picture.
  • The casting director hires actors for the necessary roles. Sometimes this requires an audition on the part of the actor, but many parts, especially lead roles, are handed out based on an actor's reputation and "star power."
  • The location manager manages detail surrounding filming on location. The majority of a modern motion picture is shot in a studio, but occasionally outdoor sequences will call for filming outside the studio, on location.
  • The production manager manages the production budget and schedule. He or she also reports on behalf of the production office to the financiers.
  • The director of photography (DOP) designs and coordinates the picture and lighting. He or she cooperates with the director, first assistant director (1AD), director of audiography (DOA) and assistant director (AD). He or she may also be listed in the credits as cinematographer. There is no real difference between the titles.
  • The production designer designs the look and feel of the setting and costumes.
  • The storyboard artist/graphic designer helps the director and production designer communicate their ideas by creating artwork for the production.
  • The director of audiography (DOA) designs and coordinates the sound and music. He or she cooperates with the director, 1AD, DOP, and AD. This role is common in Bollywood films but usually overlooked in Hollywood films, where dialog is often replaced in post-production.
  • The sound designer creates new sounds with the help of foley artists.
  • The music composer creates new music.
  • The choreographer creates and coordinates the movement and dance, typically for musicals, although some films credit a fight choreographer.

Production

Here the movie is actually created and shot. More crew will be recruited at this stage such as the property master, script supervisor/continuity, assistant directors, stills photographer, picture editor, and sound editor.

A typical day's shooting begins with a schedule being distributed by the director. The settings will be constructed and the props and camera set up appropriately. The lighting is rigged and the actors put on their costumes and make-up.

The script and blocking is rehearsed. This is vital for the picture and sound crews. The action is then shot with as many "takes" as necessary.

Each take of a shot is marked by a "clapperboard," which helps the editor keep track of the takes in post-production. The clapperboard records the scene, take, director, producer, date and name of the film written on the front, displayed for the camera. The clapperboard also serves the necessary function of providing a marker to sync up the film and the sound take. Sound is recorded on a separate apparatus from the film and they must be synched up in post-production.

The director will then check to see if the shot was "good" or "not good". The continuity, sound, and camera teams mark every take as either G or NG on their own report sheet. Each report sheet records special facts about every take.

When shooting is finished for the scene, the director declares a "wrap." The crew will "strike," or dismantle, the set for that scene. 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 for 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 day.

For productions using traditional film, the day's takes, known as rushes, are sent to the laboratory for processing overnight. Once processed, they become known as dailies and are viewed in the evening by the director and selected cast and crew. For productions using digital technologies, shots are downloaded and organized on a computer for display as dailies.

When the entire film is finished, or "in the can," the production office holds the wrap party for all cast and crew.

Post-production

Here the movie is assembled. During this stage, the movie is edited and the visual effects composited. The voice recordings are synchronized and the final sound mix is created. The sound mix combines sound effects, background sounds, foleys, ADR, dialog, walla, and music.

The titles are added and the movie is locked, resulting in the final cut. The edit decision list (EDL) is generated and the master negative (film) or edit from the master tapes (video) created. An answer print of the movie (containing sound) is produced from the master and duplicated to create a theatrical release print.

The movie will be previewed with the target audience and their reactions gauged. Any changes to the movie may then be made following audience feedback.

Distribution

This is the final stage, where the movie is released to theaters or, occasionally, to DVD or VHS. The movie is duplicated as required for theatrical distribution. Press kits, posters, and other advertising materials are published and the movie is advertised.

The movie will usually be launched with a launch party, press releases, interviews with the press, showings of the film at a press preview, and film festivals. It is also common to create a Web site to accompany the movie.

The movie will play at selected theaters and the DVD is typically released a few months later. The distribution rights for the movie and DVD are also usually sold for worldwide distribution. Any profits are divided between the distributor and the production company.

Independent filmmaking

Filmmaking also takes place outside of the Hollywood studio system, and is commonly called independent filmmaking.

Since the introduction of DV technology, the means of production have become more democratized. Filmmakers can conceivably shoot and edit a movie, 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, distribution, and marketing remain difficult to accomplish outside the traditional system. Most independent filmmakers rely on film festivals to get their films noticed and sold for distribution.

See also

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