Author Archives: Hannah Karunakar

Five Phases of Film: Distribution

The last and final stage of film production: distribution. You have your final product and its time to distribute it! But what does that mean for the producer? The producer wants a return on investment. For that to happen they need to get people to know that the movie exists. A marketing plan from the development stage (usually what you used to sell your movie to investors) should already be in the works by this time.  This should include in depth research of your target audience. Include who are they, where do they watch movies (theatres, DVD’s, online), and when are they most likely to watch this movie (Christmas, Easter). This can help with a lot of decisions such as choosing your optimal release window, or appropriate channel and timing used to distribute your film. For more options on release windows, check out our blog post on distribution. By distributing your movie according to the traits of your target audience, you are guaranteed a greater pick up for the film. This is called audience positioning.

Before the release, it is important to create a buzz around the film. A distributor’s job is very competitive as they fight for audience attention amongst hundreds of other produced movies. Some tactics could include press interviews, merchandise, trailers, and film showings at festivals. A separate print and advertising budget set apart since your pre-production would be handy at this time. This includes copies of the film (prints), distribution of prints, and advertising (radio, press, posters, TV).

Features including unique selling points about your film (be it iconic actors, an editing workshop used in your film, or a behind the scenes clip) can get the audience talking. Remember for things like behind-the-scenes it is important to film during the production phase.  As obvious as that may seem, often once we arrive at distribution we realize our need for footage. Even if it is just for documenting purposes, take pictures of your process and journal any learning moments you may have gained. Impress the audience by keeping things short and entertaining.

As the producer, it is important to stay optimistic and proud of your film no matter what the results are. This is a piece of work that you have been a part of since the beginning. You had your hand in the development stage where money was needed to turn an idea into a script and finally into a movie. You were there in the pre-production making schedules and budgets and hiring professional crews to take the baton. You were present in the production stage making sure that the clips were being processed daily and that the on-set crew was following the schedules and budgets you proposed. You supervised the post-production where the magic of the set became a full-blown movie that you no longer had to envision but is now a tangible product. Finally, you handle the distribution with hope and confidence that once your product is released the audience will see your product as you do; with love and hope that it is all that you want it to be, all that you put your hard work in for no matter what the box office numbers were. Here’s to hoping that your movie meets your expectations through every phase of this long and exciting process, both artistically and financially. Success is yours for the taking.

Five Phases of Film: Post-production

After around 60-90 days of filming, you can edit your footage to make a full blown movie. Editing is where the magic happens; be it cutting, synchronizing sound, special effects, opening titles, closing credits, adding music, or adding narratives, post-production holds just as much weight as production. To get a glimpse of editing techniques and equipment, check out Shank FX’s step by step process of editing Interstellar’s black hole. Editing takes a lot of work and time from skilled professionals.

Meanwhile, the producer continues to work behind the scenes as the editing process forms the final product, which involves regularly making visits to the editing suite. When absent from the suite, producers expect updates through this journey and may be sent glimpses of the final product to ensure that progress is maintained. The Producer then keep investors or affiliates informed about the post-production process. Hence, having an experienced editing team is key to satisfying those closer to the top of the chain of film. Reliability is huge in each step of the process. In other words, the spotlight does not always fall on the actors; you must be ready to shine when it comes your way.

Our last phase takes place next week, make sure to check out our distribution phase!

Five Phases of Film: Production

Lights, camera, action!

Finally filming begins. It’s the beginning of a shift of responsibility from producer to director. Each scene is filmed as the director deems fit.  This could involve paying great attention to detail, motivating actors to do their best, or painting the picture that the script describes. Specific locations, lights and camera angles may be necessary to bring a shot to life on screen.

Almost always, a shot involves numerous takes to get it “right”. Pre-production really pays off in this phase. Techniques such as blocking, lighting, rehearsing, tweaking and shooting are used to get a desired shot. Blocking involves Peter Marshall, film director for over 40 years, goes into detail of each step of the shooting process on his website (http://actioncutprint.com/filmmaking-articles/filmmakingarticle-05/). Once a shot is right, the Director yells, “print!” in which signifies that the final shot was achieved. The reel is taken to a dark room to be printed and developed, as well as saved in various locations and hard drives. Damage to reels is very common so it is crucial to get shots printed as soon as possible for fear of being tampered with in the future.  Having developed shots also can help motivate staff by allowing them to see a glimpse of the whole movie and recognizing that their work is paying off.

Even through this hectic process, things can still get out of control. Whether it is unexpected weather, an actor falling sick, or new ideas, the film is never static until the end. Producers manage any unforeseen changes, which could involve increasing the budget, hiring new talent or making executive decisions in order for the film to continue.  The Producer acts as a liaison between filmmakers and investors to ensure that budgetary and scheduling dilemmas are kept under control.  In essence, the Producer works behind the scenes of the scenes, and extinguishes any heated complications that may jeopardize the filmmaking process.

One week until post-production!

 

Five Phases of Film: Pre-production

It is a common misconception that because of the seamlessness of a film, that to get magic on screen is a one-take process. This is a common mistake; what you see behind the scenes is very different from what is on screen. The pre-production of a film is in a sentence all the work before filming begins. This includes money you need to film, time you need to film, people you need to film and things you need to film. The phase could be divided into four different sections:

  1. The Schedule
  2. The Budget
  3. The People
  4. The Film Prep

The Schedule

The schedule is dependent on the script. Paula Landry’s book Scheduling and Budgeting your Film describes breaking the script into scenes like a “GPS leading you toward the completed film…it is the foundation of a production” (Landry, pp. 10, 2012). To increase efficiency, once the breakdown is created organize like scenes together based on location, cast, and time of day. This allows for less shooting days.

The Budget

Sorting out your script and schedule allows you to identify the price of your film. Budgeting is basically allowing money to be “allocated to appropriate expenses” (Landry, 2012). From this budget, you can distribute the money based on above-the-line or below-the-line costs. Director Sidney Lumet of 12 Angry Men, amongst many other films, defines above-the-line costs as property, director, producer, writer, and actor costs in his book Making Movies (Lumet, 1995). The rest is for below-the-line which includes “sets, locations, trucks, studio rental, location and studio crews, catering, legal fees (which are enormous), music, editing, mixing, equipment rental, living expenses, and set dressing (furniture, curtains, plants, etc).” To acquire this funding would be a part of our previous phase, Development.

The People

Having a good team is important for you to get pre-production done efficiently. Because of possible scheduling conflicts, the more the merrier. Following is a list of department heads, each in charge of their own team:

  • Director
  • Casting Director
  • Location Manager
  • Production Manager
  • Director of Photography
  • Production designer
  • Sound Designer
  • Music Composer
  • Choreographer
  • Actors

The amount of people used in a film does not guarantee success. You may have 20 or 200, but having them rehearsed, scheduled, and insured does play into your film’s success. Behind the scenes involves countless rehearsals, coordination with actors’ schedules and location permits needed before shooting.

The Film Prep

While having talented actors is a necessity in a film, having a skilled and experienced film crew is where the magic happens. Director Sidney Lumet quotes in his book “I once asked Akira Kurosawa why he had chosen to frame a shot in Ran in a particular way. His answer was that if he’d panned the camera one inch to the left, the Sony factory would be sitting there exposed, and if he’d panned an inch to the right, we would see the airport – neither of which belonged in a period movie. Only the person who’s made the movie knows what goes into the decisions that result in any piece of work. They can be anything from budget requirements to divine inspiration. “

Stay tuned for our third phase, production!

Five Phases of Film: Development

“This phase begins with an idea, and ends with a check. The point of this phase is to convince the investors the movie can be produced financially and conceptually, and to ultimately receive the green light to Pre-Production.”

This post will explain to the independent producer or writer how to navigate the development process and receive the funding necessary to get your film made.

There are two types of people that enter this phase: the Producer with an idea (who needs a writer), or a writer with a script (who needs a producer); both of whom need to find an investor to on-board the rest of the team and start the rest of the production process.

I’s are important

Interest the investor with an idea. Think of the idea as the eye of the film. Eyes need to have clarity, want to see something aesthetically pleasing, and set the direction for the rest of the body.

Your film idea should have these properties. It is important to have clarity in your idea, make sure it is simple and to the point. Analogies are a great way to pitch to investors. For example, a current movie undergoing the development phase at Princebury Productions & Media is Latin Legends: Round 2. In our pitch deck, we ask our investors to picture our movie as a documentary version of “Remember the Titans” for Latin American boxing. This helps your investor associate it to another successful project and visualize the film in their minds. Clarity.

Aesthetically pleasing. While creating your pitch deck, graphic representations keep your investors attention while showing them visual proof of your past capabilities. It also acts as a leeway into showing them your artistic abilities as a filmmaker. But always make sure your visuals tell your story in a more efficient way than text does. Be creative!

Where the eyes go, the heart goes. Make sure your film has direction. To an investor, your film is another investment opportunity alongside many other start-ups, and you will have to convince them why your project is a better investment. Chance Barnett at Forbes describes in detail how to create a pitch deck for a start-up. After going through 11 basic slides of successful pitch decks, Barnett ends the article with the emphasis that your last slide should be for your ask, or return on investment for your financiers.

“Be sure you know your numbers, your financing, have a timeline for your round, and be clear and direct on your asks” (Barnett, 2014).

Make sure to highlight the strengths of your project. If you have additional documents, such as the script or treatment, make sure to have them ready for investors if they would like more information. Make sure you also bring whatever financial documents you need to make an investment (and have them looked over by a lawyer). Remember your presentation skills and be confident of why you need your funding. If you believe in your idea, others will too.

Next week, we will cover our second phase, pre-production!

Five Phases of Film: Introduction

Production may seem like a breeze, but this seamlessness is strung together by a myriad of operations and over a long period of time. Essentially, it is a lot of work to produce.

Princebury Productions & Media is offering a five-week series, with each week covering one phase of the production process in detail. Apart from learning life long skills in filmmaking, we will offer inside-the-industry tips for you to gain a competitive advantage and stand out like we do.

Here is a quick overview of what we will be covering in the following weeks:

  • Development: This phase begins with an idea, and ends with a check.  The point of this phase is to convince the investors the movie can be produced financially and conceptually, and to ultimately receive the green light.
  • Pre-Production: This period of time is used to prepare everything needed before filming. From budgets to storyboards to cast and crew, this phase lays out a timeline and schedule for the future.
  • Production: Time to film! Take the script from the development, and the schedule from the pre-production and turn it into raw footage.
  • Post-Production: Editing is where the magic happens. This phase is used to put on the final touches of the film, and lock it down before duplicating and distributing.
  • Distribution: Marketing, promotion, interviews, trailers and release dates all happen here; this is where you get to share the final project with the world!

Make sure to tune into our “Five-Phased Fridays” to learn more about the blood, sweat and tears that go into to producing the widely known medium of art today, film.