Tag Archives: how to make a movie

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: 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!

The Budgeting Process

Walt Disney said “If you can dream it, you can do it,” but how much will it cost? Budgeting a film can be an intimidating and unappealing task to take on (especially so early in the process), but is an essential aspect of making your creative dream a reality.  Whether you want to hire a professional, or tackle it on your own, the budgeting process is worth the time. It not only keeps costs low and efficient, but also gives insight into the details people often overlook.

Whether it is a $10,000 or $300,000,000 film, the budgeting process is very similarly structured.  Break your budget down into three categories: Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production.  It is also crucial to account for the P&A (Print and Advertising) costs in your budget.  Understanding where and when your money is going will not only help you keep organized, but is required for almost all investors.


Pre-Production is the first stage of the film making process, and typically lasts 2-3 months.  Typical costs associated with this stage are salaries, acquiring talent, forming legal documents, constructing a set, costumes and props, equipment, and transportation.  The crucial foundation of the Pre-Production stage is the script.  The script should be fully completed in this stage, fully reviewed, critiqued, and edited multiple times to ensure a solid final draft.  Before moving on to the Production stage, revise your budget and schedule.


After the Pre-Production stage is complete, the backbone of the film will be in place and you will be ready to start shooting.  The Production stage typically lasts 2-3 months.  If you hired a director, cinematographer, and technical crew, this stage will be relatively simple.  Only creative input, supervision, and assistance will be necessary.  If hiring professionals is not in the budget, more creativity and skills will be required.  Make sure to budget for catering on set, transportation, lodging, location rental, repairs, and insurance.  Revise your budget and schedule before you move on to the Post-Production stage.


The Post Production is usually the longest stage of the film making process, typically taking 3-4 months.  After the completion of the Production process, the director, producer, and editor cut the movie to its target length and prepare the final product for the addition of sound, music and any special effects.  Make sure you have filmed more than enough material, because it can be very difficult and expensive to reshoot.  Professionals and/or equipment to edit raw footage with quality can be very expensive, but will make a massive difference in the final product.  Typical costs incurred in this stage include editing workstations, special effects software, sound mixing programs, and test screening costs.  Revise your budget once again after you have a completed product.

Print and Advertising

Print and Advertising costs depend vastly on how broadly you would like to distribute your film, but can cost even more than the entire Pre to Post-Production stages combined. There are several ways to distribute your film ranging from theatrical releases to DVD releases to Video on Demand releases.  P&A costs prepare your film to be distributed, whether it is Movie posters, putting the film on DVD and creating a cover, or a short trailer to promote the film.  Film Festival submissions are often a good way to introduce and promote a film.  Consider spending money on the P&A, because no matter how good your film is, it will not make money if no one knows about it.

It is often a good idea to budget an extra 10% to make room for unexpected costs that may arise.  It is better to have money left over, than to run out before you have finished P&A and distribution.  Another aspect to consider is negotiating salary costs by giving the people involved percentage ownership of profits to reduce up front costs.

Once you have completed your budget, and understand the entire process of making the film, you are ready to start finding investors, and start your Pre-Production stage.

Consulting and Advising services are offered by Princebury Productions & Media