Stages of Making A Movie
Every movie goes through three production stages.
- Pre-production stage
- Production stage and
- Post-production stage
These three stages also have individual elements that are essential to making a movie. One of the things to note for a movie maker is that every step of production is equally important, and equal energy must be expended on it.
Without much ado, what are the stages of producing a movie, and what do they entail.
This stage is the foundation of making a movie. It entails the preparations to be made before the production of a film. There is a lot to prepare for, but only the core topics under the pre-production stage will be touched. Some of the critical elements of pre-production are:
Getting the Equipment
The quality of equipment can determine a lot in the outcome of a movie. The camera is the most crucial piece of equipment a moviemaker has, and choosing the right one is very important. Cameras come in different makes, designs, and qualities, although the type of camera is mainly dependent on budget.
While considering budget, another thing that must be considered before choosing the camera is the kind of movie shot. Most cameras were made for various purposes and hence the different designs. For example, an action movie will require a camera with a different design from one used for drama. Although there are cameras designed to perform every function, they are usually intended for something in particular.
Thanks to technology, good cameras are getting cheaper by the day, and there are now phones with exceptional picture qualities that can achieve the desired result or a semblance of it. So there is no need to go overboard if the budget doesn’t allow it.
When learning how to make a movie, other necessary equipment are lenses, tripods, sound recorder, microphones, headphones, lights, power supply, storage, e.t.c. These equipment are essential and generally make production easier.
All in all, getting the right equipment is the first step to making a movie. The next step is choosing a crew.
This part can be tricky because it can take an unnecessarily long time to get the perfect crew. Although there are ways to reduce the time spent looking for an excellent cast, it can still be quite stressful. Before the cast, though, there is some vital personnel that should be sorted. They are:
- Director: This individual is in charge of the creative aspect of making the movie. The director should have a concise idea of what the film should look like and how to implement it accordingly. Sometimes, directors get to choose who they work with or who fits a character perfectly.
- Director of Photography: This individual works in conjunction with the director to shoot the different scenes. This person is in charge of lighting, photography, the people that handle the instruments used for these actions, and decides how each frame should be lit or shot.
- Set Designer: This individual is in charge of the set and looks to fit the director’s idea. This person uses good props for each shot, and sometimes their jobs extend to costume design. For industrial-grade movie production, costume designers are set apart, but a costume designer’s job can be combined with a set designer’s position for a low-budget movie.
- Sound Engineer: This job is as important as any job on set. The sound engineer is in charge of capturing the sound and rectifying faults with the sound system. In addition, this individual sometimes has to pick the adequate backup track or music for each scene and the intensity of the sound because it goes a long way in movie productions.
With these four personnel in place, casting the crew becomes a tad easier. Again, the director can be in charge of this, or auditions can be organized to get the best possible person for each role.
Choose A Location
There is always a preferred location for any movie, but the truth is there might not be accessible to the preferred site and hence the need to build a set. It is easier, though, to use a natural location for Filming. It’s always good to check the availability of a site before production starts. It saves a lot of time and unforeseen changes. In some cases, green screens are used as backgrounds when real locations are unavailable, while movie editors bring the green background to life.
This goes without saying, but every movie should have a story or plot. While everyone gets ideas about what the ideal film should look like, there is an extensive documentation process between that movie idea and the presented final story. While ideas are a rough sketch, moviemakers must develop the plot around streamlined ideas to avoid stories that can’t be quickly resolved.
When developing an idea, it is pertinent to define the protagonist and other characters explicitly. Another thing to note when creating a plot is the development and resolution of conflict. Conflicts are essential for creating climax, which is necessary for any good story.
Imagine a scene from a favorite movie and all the dialogue or monologue that took place in it. Now imagine details such as body movement and position, camera angle, facial expressions, time of the day, and any other detail.
All the elements of the scene are in the screenplay. As daunting as creating a story from an idea can be, the screenplay is the real deal as far as the core production is concerned.
A screenplay is the breakdown of every moment into individual scenes. It includes details such as monologue or dialogue, some physical directions, movement of the camera, and exposition.
Screenplays start with a brief description of the scene to be acted. Then, the script is what is given to actors to read during auditions. It is always better to hire a professional to write the screenplay because of the intricacies it requires.
Storyboarding makes the use of cartoon characters to depict the crucial scenes, but the dialogue is absent. It’s not compulsory, but it helps directors stay on track and helps share the moviemaker’s vision with the crew and cast.
The software to be used for video editing should be carefully chosen because of the different unique qualities of the video editing software. The common ones are Adobe premiere pro, avid Media composers, but searches can always find the ones that will suit a video editing need.
The primary production involves the actual filming of the movie. Here, every personnel hired has a common goal of making video footage with the equipment provided. The actors are also tasked with bringing the character to life in the best possible way. Producing a movie can take a while depending on different factors, but since the goal is to make a memorable movie, time should not be much of a constraint as long expenditures are still within the budget.
The central element of the production stage is filming the actor’s work and using sets, costumes, props, and the rest. The elements of production are:
- Costumes: They are an essential part of making a movie. While movie editing software can do beautiful things to the footage, live costumes remain a vital part of filming. The imagination of the costume designer is the only limitation to the effect costumes can have on a movie. With the screenplay, a befitting outfit is acquired, and sometimes the costume artists still have to work on the set or location to create the right picture for the audience.
- Filming Style: A filming style is a technique adopted when shooting a movie. A famous example of a filming style is the mumblecore(1). The style of filming being used can dictate the intensity of emotions to be gotten from the audience. Therefore, every movie must adopt at least one filming style.
It’s good to watch lots of movies with the eyes of someone intending to create one. This means critical analysis of the details since what to look out for is known.
- Colors: Movies always come with a color theme. It sets the tone for the movie, and scenarios have been attributed to some colors or particular hues. The director knows how to play on the audience’s emotion by choosing a color to be dominant when the movie is being shot. Colors are also crucial concerning the set or location.
- Lighting: Lighting is also an integral part of filming. Even though there are cameras with powerful lenses now, lighting is used in almost all the shots in movie production. The proper lighting (sometimes with reflectors) also sets the tone in movie production(2). For example, a happy scene will be lit differently from a scene where the character is moody.
- Sound: Sounds are crucial to movie production. Many people won’t enjoy watching movies without sounds and sound effects. The voices of the characters must be clear and audible. Also, there shouldn’t be fluctuations in the sound when recording, except it’s intended for an effect. Sometimes, voices are pre-recorded and then synced with the video during editing.
With everything in place, filming should start, but before that, it is imperative to shoot a test scene just to ascertain that all equipment is working well and that everybody is ready.
For every scene, there are different filming takes. It is not necessarily true for low-budget movies or DIY movies but having different takes gives the film editor options to choose from for each scene. Professionals do shoot videos in wide, medium, and close-up shots of important scenes.
Getting everybody together (especially the actors) at once can be tricky because everyone has their itinerary. So, a moviemaker has to schedule the shooting of the scenes with the availability of the actors.
The main event in the post-production of a movie is editing the footage. There is a high chance people won’t like popular films if they saw the raw footage instead. Post-production also includes credits scenes and the movie trailer. So, what are the elements of the post-production stage?
Editing is the last stretch of the movie-making journey. It’s a stretch because movie editing takes time – sometimes, more time than the actual production and the pre-production combined. So, to learn how to make a movie, it is good to know the rudiments of video editing. Editing the footage includes:
- Picture editing
- Visual Effects
- Color correction
- Sound Editing
- Custom music (securing music)
- Sound Mixing
- Title credits scene
Movie editing requires professionals in different fields. Sound engineers, graphics designers, video editors with their high-end computers and software, and a host of other professionals working towards a common goal. The cooperation that is required at this stage is at an all-time high in movie production.
Both the raw unedited footage and the final cut both need to be stored. Storage may seem ordinary and not essential, but when dealing with really large files. The best way of storing media now is with an SSD because of its fast read/write speed.
After all is said and done, the movie needs to be distributed to be seen by the intended audience. The Digital Cinema Package (DCP) is available to distribute to cinemas. There might be a need to create a dialogue script and a soundtrack without the English dialogue if the movie is being distributed overseas.
Making a movie trailer
When thinking of how to make a movie trailer, it should always be about a new or different perspective. There are now jobs for movie trailer editors in post-production. These people are individuals that haven’t been included in the production from the start so that they can bring in a fresh perspective for the eye-catching scenes usually used for movie trailers.
How Long Does It Take To Make A Movie?
One of the critical questions to any movie maker is “how long does it take to make a movie?” or “how long will it take to make this movie?” the answer to these questions is dependent on many things like:
- How much time does the production stages take – from idea to the final movie cut.
- Financial and legal constraints
- The genre of the movie
Generally, making movies can take between six months and a couple of years, although there are some outliers for these statistics.
Yes, you can, but you won’t like the resultant footage. So, it’s better not to start filming unless there is provision for adequate lighting.
While some believe you can never be fully prepared for making a movie, there is no harm in trying. Getting your pre-production right is vital to setting the tone for the rest of the production.
Learning how to make a movie is the first step in the right direction as an aspiring movie maker. However, nothing should stop the progress of any individual armed with the proper knowledge on how to go about making a movie.
What is stopping you from making your movie? What are your experiences with making a movie? Please share with us in the comments.
- Green, W. (2016, July). 22 movie movements that defined cinema. Retrieved from https://www.empireonline.com/movies/features/movie-moments/
- Hellerman, J. (2019, May). 13 film lighting techniques every filmmaker should know. Retrieved from https://nofilmschool.com/film-lighting-techniques-and-examples.