Complete Guide For Beginner Filmmakers

Introduction:

Filmmaking (or in an academic context, film production) is the process of making a film. Filmmaking involves a number of discrete stages including an initial story, idea , or commission, through scriptwriting , casting, shooting, sound recording and reproduction, editing , and screening the finished product before audience that may result a film release exibition. 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. Typically, it involes a large number of people, and can take from a few months to several years to complete.

Development

in this stage, the project producer selects a story, which may come from a book, play, another film, true story, video game, comic book, graphic novel , or an original idea, etc.

After identifying a theme or underlying message, the producer works with writers to prepare a synopsis. Next they produce a step outline, which breaks the story down into one-paragraph scenes that concentrate on dramatic structure. Then, they prepare a treatment, a 25 to 30 pages description of the story, its mood, and characters. This usually has little dialogue and stage direction, but often contain drawings that help visualize key points, another way is to produce a scriptment once synopsis is produced.

Next, a screenwriter writes a screenplay over a period of several months. The screenwriter may rewrite it several times to improve dramatization, clarity, structure, characters, dialogue, and overall style. However, producers often skip the previous steps and develop submitted screenplays which investors, studios, and other interested parties assess through a process called script coverage. A film distributor may be contacted at an early stage to assess the likely market and potential financial success of the film. Hollywood distributors adopt a hard-headed business approach and consider factors such as the film genre, the target 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, so film companies take DVD sales and worldwide distribution rights into account. The producer and screenwriter prepare a film pitch, or treatment, and present it to potential financiers. They will also pitch the film to actors and directors (especially so-called bankable stars) in order to “attach” them to the project (that is, obtain a binding promise to work on the film if financing is ever secured). Many projects fail to move beyond this stage and enter so-called development hell. If a pitch succeeds, a film receives a “green light”, meaning someone offers financial backing: typically a major film studio, film council, or independent investor. The parties involved negotiate a deal and sign contracts. Once all parties have met and the deal has been set, the film may proceed into the pre-production period. By this stage, the film should have a clearly defined marketing strategy and target audience. Development of animated films differs slightly in that it is the director who develops and pitches a story to an executive producer on the basis of rough storyboards, and it is rare for a full-length screenplay to already exist at that point in time. If the film is green-lighted for further development and pre-production, then a screenwriter is later brought in to prepare the screenplay.

Pre-Production

In pre-production, every step of actually creating the film is carefully designed and planned. 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.

The producer hires a crew. 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:

  • Storyboard artist: creates visual images to help the director and production designer communicate their ideas to the production team.
  • Director: is primarily responsible for the storytelling, creative decisions and acting of the film.
  • Assistant director(AD): manages the shooting schedule and logistics of the production, among other tasks. There are several types of AD, each with different responsibilities.
  • Unit production manager: manages the production budget and production schedule. They also report, on behalf of the production office, to the studio executives or financiers of the film.
  • Location Manager: finds and manages film locations. Nearly all pictures feature segments that are shot in the controllable environment of a studio sound stage, outdoor sequences call for filming on location.
  • Production designer: creates the visual conception of the film, working with the art director.
  • Art director: manages the art department, which makes production sets.
  • Costume designer: creates the clothing for the characters in the film working closely with the actors, as well as other departments.
  • Make up and hair designer: works closely with the costume designer in addition to create a certain look for a character.
  • Casting director: finds actors to fill the parts in the script. This normally requires that actors audition.
  • Choreographer: creates and coordinates the movement and dance – typically for musicals. Some films also credit a fight choreographer.
  • Director of photography (DP): is the cinematographer who supervises the photography of the entire film.
  • Director of audiography (DA): is the audiographer who supervises the audiography of the entire film. For productions in the Western world this role is also known as either sound designer or supervising sound editor.
  • Production sound mixer: is the head of the sound department during the production stage of filmmaking. They record and mix the audio on set – dialogue, presence and sound effects in mono and ambience in stereo. They work with the boom operator, Director, DoA, DoP, and First AD.
  • Sound designer: creates the aural conception of the film, working with the supervising sound editor. On some productions the sound designer plays the role of a director of audiography. Composer: creates new music for the film. (usually not until post-production)

Production

In production, the video production/film is created and shot. 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.

A typical day’s 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 prepare their equipment, the actors are wardrobed in 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 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 talent 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:

Post-production is part of filmmaking, video production and photography process. It occurs in the making of motion pictures, television programs, radio programs, advertising, audio recordings, photography, and digital art. It is a term for all stages of production occurring after the actual end of shooting and/or recording the completed work. Traditional (analogue) post-production have been eroded away by video editing software that operates on a non-linear editing system (NLE).

Processes

Post-production is, in fact, many different processes grouped under one name. These typically include:

  • Video editing the picture of a television program using an edit decision list (EDL)
  • Writing, (re)recording, and editing the soundtrack.
  • Adding visual special effects – mainly computer-generated imagery (CGI) and digital copy from which release prints will be made (although this may be made obsolete by digital-cinema technologies).
  • Sound design, Sound effects, ADR, Foley and Music, culminating in a process known as sound re-recording or mixing with professional audio equipment.
  • Transfer of Color motion picture film to Video or DPX with a telecine and color grading (correction) in a color suite.

Typically, the post-production phase of creating a film takes longer than the actual shooting of the film, and can take several months to complete because it includes the complete editing, color correction and the addition of music and sound. The process of editing a movie is also seen as the second directing because through the post production it is possible to change the intention of the movie. Furthermore through the use of color correcting tools and the addition of music and sound, the atmosphere of the movie can be heavily influenced. For instance a blue-tinted movie is associated with a cold atmosphere and the choice of music and sound increases the effect of the shown scenes to the audience.

Post-production was named the one of the ‘Dying Industries’ by IBISWorld. The once exclusive service offered by high end post houses or boutique facilities have been eroded away by video editing software that operates on a non-linear editing system (NLE). As such, traditional (analogue) post-production services are being surpassed by digital, leading to sales of over $6 billion annually.

Television

In television, the phases of post production include: editing, video editing, sound editing, animation and visual effects insertions, viewing and the start of the airing process. It is imperative that post production executes and oversees the preparation until the final product is completely ready.

Photography

Professional post-producers usually apply a certain range of image editing operations to the raw image format provided by a photographer or an image-bank. There is a range of proprietary and free and open-source software, running on a range of operating systems available to do this work. All computer hardware suitable for the post-production of photography features high amounts of RAM. The CPU (and GPU of the software supports GPGPU) depends on the operations to be performed.

The first stage of post-production usually requires loading the RAW images into the post-production software. If it’s more than one image, and they belong to a set, ideally post-producers try to equalize the images before loading them. After that, if necessary, the next step would be to cut the objects in the images with the Pen Tool for a perfect and clean cut. The next stage would be cleaning the image using tools such as the healing tool, clone tool and patch tool.

The next stages depend on what the client ordered. If it’s a photo-montage, the post-producers would usually start assembling the different images into the final document, and start to integrate the images with the background.

In advertising it usually requires assembling several images together in a photo-composition.

Types of work usually done:

  • Advertising that requires one background (as one or more images to assemble) and one or more models. (Usually the most time consuming as a lot of times these are image bank images which don’t have much quality, and they all have different light and color as they were not controlled by only one photographer in one set location)
  • Product-photography that usually requires several images of the same object with different lights, and assembled together, to control light and unwanted reflections, and/or to assemble parts that would be difficult to get in one shot, such as a beer glass for a beer advertising. (Sometimes to composite one image of a beer glass it requires 4 or 5 images: one for the base, one for the beer, one for the label, one for the foam, and one or more for splashing beer if that is desired)
  • Fashion photography that usually requires a really heavy post-production for editorial and/or advertising.

Music

Techniques used in music post-production include comping (compiling the best portions of multiple takes into one superior take), timing and pitch correction (perhaps through beat quantization), and adding effects. This process is typically referred to as mixing and can also involve equalization and adjusting the levels of each individual track to provide an optimal sound experience. Contrary to the name, post-production may occur at any point during recording and production process and is non-linear and nonveridic .

Trailer

A trailer or preview is an advertisement or a commercial for a feature film that will be exhibited in the future at a cinema. The term “trailer” comes from their having originally been shown at the end of a feature film screening That practice did not last long, because patrons tended to leave the theater after the films ended, but the name has stuck. Trailers are now shown before the film (or the A movie in a double feature) begins. Movie trailers have now become popular on DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, as well as on the Internet and mobile devices. Of some ten billion videos watched online annually, film trailers rank third, after news and user-created video.

Trailers consist of a series selected shots from the film being advertised. Since the purpose of the trailer is to attract an audience to the film, these excerpts are usually drawn from the most exciting, funny, or otherwise noteworthy parts of the film but in abbreviated form and usually without producing spoilers. For this purpose the scenes are not necessarily in the order in which they appear in the film. A trailer has to achieve that in less than 2 minutes and 30 seconds, the maximum length allowed by the MPAA. Each studio or distributor is allowed to exceed this time limit once a year, if they feel it is necessary for a particular film.

However, in January 2014, the movie theater trade group National Association of Theatre Owners issued an industry guideline asking that film distributors supply trailers that run no longer than 2 minutes, which is 30 second shorter than the prior norm. The guideline is suggested—and not compulsory. The guideline also allows for limited exceptions of a select few movies having longer trailers. Film distributors reacted coolly to the announcement. There had been no visible disputes on trailer running time prior to the guideline, which surprised many.

Some trailers use “special shoot” footage, which is material that has been created specifically for advertising purposes and does not appear in the actual film. The most notable film to use this technique was Terminator 2: Judgment Day, whose trailer featured an elaborate special effect scene of a T-800 Terminator being assembled in a factory that was never intended to be in the film itself. Dimension Films also shot extra scenes for their 2006 horror remake, Black Christmas – these scenes were used in promotional footage for the film, but are similarly absent from the theatrical release. A trailer for the 2002 blockbuster Spider-Man had an entire action sequence especially constructed that involved escaping bank robbers in a helicopter getting caught in a giant web between the World Trade Center’s two towers. However, after the September 11 attacks the studio pulled it from theaters.

One of the most famous “special shoot” trailers is that used for the 1960s thriller Psycho, which featured director Alfred Hitchcock giving viewers a guided tour of the Bates Motel, eventually arriving at the infamous shower. At this point, the soft-spoken Hitchcock suddenly throws the shower curtain back to reveal Vera Miles with a blood-curdling scream. As the trailer, in fact, was made after completion of the film when Janet Leigh was no longer available for filming, Hitchcock had Miles don a blonde wig for the fleeting sequence. Since the title, “Psycho”, instantly covers most of the screen, the switch went unnoticed by audiences for years until freeze-frame analysis clearly revealed that it was Vera Miles and not Janet Leigh in the shower during the trailer.

There are dozens of companies that specialize in the creation of film trailers in Los Angeles and New York. The trailer may be created at agencies (such as The Cimarron Group, MOJO, The Ant Farm, Ben Cain, Aspect Ratio, Flyer Entertainment, Trailer Park, Buddha Jones) while the film itself is being cut together at the studio. Since the edited film does not exist at this point, the trailer editors work from rushes or dailies. Thus, the trailer may contain footage that is not in the final movie, or the trailer editor and the film editor may use different takes of a particular shot. Another common technique is including music on the trailer which does not appear on the movie’s soundtrack. This is nearly always a requirement, as trailers and teasers are created long before the composer has even been hired for the film score—sometimes as much as a year ahead of the movie’s release date—while composers are usually the last creative people to work on the film. Some trailers that incorporate material not in the film are particularly coveted by collectors, especially trailers for classic films. For example, in a trailer for Casablanca the character Rick Blaine says, “OK, you asked for it!” before shooting Major Strasser; this line of dialogue is not spoken in the final film.

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