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Creating a Movie Production Timeline Estimate Form

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/30/2011

Here is a basic outline for creating a movie production timeline estimate form.

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    Production Timeline Forms

    A movie production timeline is incredibly important before you even do your pre-production planning, mainly because the actual production is a complex operation that costs money for every minute it is active. Before you set up a concrete movie production timeline, you are going to have to put together a basic timeline estimate so that you can present this to other producers, investors, and those actively coordinating production schedules. Here is a look at how to put together a preliminary movie production timeline estimate form.

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    What is different about a production timeline estimate as opposed to more specific types of production timeline forms is that it is non-specific and is used as a guide, which is a good presentation as part of your deliverables package and a good way to get the line producer started on the regular schedule. This form is one that is intended to give an approximation about your production before it actually takes place, and there will likely be a lot of leaps from it when active production takes place. This is not going to replace other production timeline forms later on since an airtight film production schedule is going to be necessary.

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    Processing the Form

    Break down the actual movie production timeline estimate for your film by breaking down several lines by elapsed time rather than blocks of time. For example, break it down so that you start off in the first month for the first block of activity, then list the next month as the one where the next stage of production will occur in. To do this effectively you will want to have two columns: a small one to the left with the months listed and a very wide one where you will include the headings and descriptions of activities.

    From here, you will start at the development process where you will list how long you estimate it to take and what will be done in this period. This will include things like making screenplay changes, finding cast and crew, making that last contractual deals, and the final budget and schedule. If this takes six months then the next month's heading will be month seven, where you will then be doing the official pre-production schedule. From here you will block out periods of time for production, post-production, the process of delivery to the distributor, the promotional period, and then finally the long term schedule for different exploitation methods and distribution for the film.

    This actually outlines a movie production schedule estimate that goes years past official production, but is a good outline for all levels of scheduling that you will do later. For each one, approximate how many months that you estimate it will take, but you can use general assumptions for certain levels. For example, the final one about the long term process of the film you can generally say two to three years depending on your distribution expectations.

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    Source: author's own experience.

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