A Comprehensive Guide to Film Production for Beginners

Film production is a business that is full of speed bumps and potholes, causing an aspiring filmmaker to stumble more often than not. Up front, there are the main goals of finding a script, hiring a crew, casting the roles in the movie and finding financing to help get it made. Then the shooting begins and the goal of film production involves making sure everything is shot on time and under budget so the film can reach its editing stages.

At this point, there are more worries as the production team has to make sure that the final product matches the expectations of everyone involved in the editing phases. Finally, what many people don’t think of when considering film production for beginners is the headaches involved in marketing the film, planning screenings, securing the rights to any music in the movie and advertising the finished product. When the final stages are reached, involving festivals, agents and distributors, the entire ordeal can seem like a warzone with the final movie as the prize for the victors.

The Business of Filmmaking

One of the toughest things to learn in film production for beginners is that the actual task of making the movie is not the hard part of the

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endeavor. While writing, directing and editing a movie is not easy by any means, the hardest part of making a movie might be on the production side. It is the producers who raise the money, secure the releases and bring on the cast and crew needed to get the movie off the ground.

One of the hardest aspects of making a movie is easily raising the money for it, or even knowing where to start looking to find financing to make the movie. Most filmmakers do not have bottomless savings accounts or rich aunts with loads of cash in their mattresses. Most filmmakers have to learn how and where the money is to make the movie in their dreams a reality.

From writing a mission statement to putting together a package, the producers have many tricks up their sleeves to pull out when it comes time to get people to open their pocket books. The most important part of raising money is to remain professional and make sure that everything is on the up and up. From writing the official business plan to knowing what to do when the money starts rolling in, the producer’s guide to kick-starting the movie is found below.

Roles in Filmmaking

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When starting production on a movie, one of the most important aspects of pre-production is hiring, or bringing people aboard, to be part of the crew. Whether you plan on directing the movie yourself or want to find a director to do it for you then that is the first thing that needs to be done after a script is turned in. While a beginner filmmaker wants as close to complete control as he can achieve, it is always a good idea to surround yourself with likeminded people that can help you get through the difficult task of completing a movie.

There are many different people to involve in a movie production and, as an independent filmmaker, it is up to you to decide who you need and who you can live without. On small no-budget projects, it should not be hard to find people willing to help out for free but you must give each person a specific job and role in the project so that everything gets taken care of. From casting the film to finding your producers to understanding what each job entails, we have you covered.

Pre-Production

Pre-production is a very important period of any filmmaking endeavor. It is during the pre-production for a movie that the budget and schedule are brought together to make sure that the movie can be made as planned. Without this important planning period, things are likely to go awry and can be the end of a movie before it ever finds the light of day. It has been said that the majority of independent films never reach completion and a poorly thought out pre-production period is normally the culprit.

The players brought together in the original hiring process work together to design the production schedule. When the casting is completed, the script is broken down to set up the shooting schedule based on the availability of the actors while keeping in mind the most economical production costs. Permits, contracts and call sheets are designed during this period and it is important to make sure that all your bases are covered before production on the film begins.

Film Production

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The shooting of the movie is the most exciting part of the filmmaking experience. The pre-production work is completed, the movie is cast and the crew has been hired and it is just time to head out and make the movie. However, this is not a time to just cut loose because film production is where the movie can fall off the tracks. The pre-production work is designed to make sure the movie can reach a conclusion and it is up to the producers to make sure the rules are followed when the shoot begins.

It is also important to understand what does and does not work when shooting the movie. There are plenty of ways to cut corners when shooting the film and that can help out down the road if you see the film needs a little something extra. There are also many ways to cut time during the shoot using various tricks and techniques that will aid you in making certain the movie is completed by deadline. A film set is a fun place to work but you have to make sure it is a professional, streamlined work area as well if you want to finish the job with the best movie possible.

Post-Production

Once the movie is completed, it is time to start working on getting it edited and put together. The director and editor work hand-in-hand to get the movie completed and it is up to the producers to make sure that it meets the standards set when filming began. There may be reshoots and ADR work needed and this is where those tasks are completed, preferably as early into post-production as possible to get the movie complete and ready for viewing.

At this time, the final important task in film production for beginners is to learn how to get the film out into the market. There are many options for a producer, from film festivals to video distribution to actually finding buyers for the final product. Making a movie can be a lot of fun but if it never sells or is never seen by an audience, it is all for nothing. There are many opportunities for filmmakers here but rules must be followed and, if you are one of the lucky ones, this is where you finally see the rewards for all your hard work.

References

  • All images from author's personal collection.