Different Stages of Film Production
PART I – PRE PRODUCTION
Hi everyone! I am Piyush Pande, an Indie film director and now a commercial film producer. I have directed and produced short films, feature films, web series, documentaries in the past and have hands-on experience in film production for more than 10 years. There are many things which I learned while working on the projects, those things which no one ever told me!
There are 3 main stages of Film production.
Out of all the three stages of film production, no one stage is less or more important than the other one!
So let’s talk about Pre Production.
Pre Production is the first stage while making any film! This stage is all about planning. Remember if you plan well in your pre-production stage, you will have no problem in the next two stages.
So the Pre-production stage consists of the following work!
Scripting. As we say every film is first made on a paper, which is very true as the script is like a blueprint of any project. So it is very important that you lock your final script in the pre-production stage only. Any change in the script later will cost you time and money both. Discuss your script with your core teammates. A producer should discuss the script thoroughly with the Director. The director should discuss the script with the Cinematographer, actors, editors and art directors. It is the director’s responsibility that the script is well discussed in his team so that everyone is on the same page in the film and knows exactly what and when to do. Make a number of copies of the script for other important teammates and actors. It is important that the directions team, production team, art direction team and actors all have their individual script copies. At the start of the script attach an index mentioning the page numbers of scenes and sequences. It is also important that the director brainstorm on the script along with the teammates and know what others think of the script and the story and if there are any glitches. If there are any glitches then it should be fixed in the scripting stage only. Remember this stage does not include writing a script.That is done way before the pre-production stage in isolation by the writer or the director himself.
2. Location Finalisation: After you have locked the script, it is very important that you find a place to shoot your film. According to the script requirement, a director should find the locations along with the cinematographer, art director, and his assistant directors. It is very important that you take your cameraman and the art director along with you as they will give you more ideas with their point of view. The location has to be finalized before the shoot starts. If you are shooting at out of station locations, then the director should also visit those places beforehand to finalize the location. When visiting the location it is very important for the cinematographer to see where will he place the lights, how much light and equipment will he require. The cinematographer should discuss thoroughly with the director and the art director about the scope of work. The art director should see how he can make the place exactly the way the director wants. He should note down all the things that are required in the location. In case you are shooting indoors at the studio then the availability of the studio needs to be known. Take your own time to finalize the locations and don’t compromise on it because remember, your location is also one of the characters in the film and decides the mood of the film.
3. Scheduling: Time is money! And therefore it is very important to schedule your shoot properly. Everyone in your team is there for a specific period of time. Therefore it is very important that you use your time in the most effective way. Usually, the best way to schedule the shoot is ‘Location-wise’. It means you should complete all the scenes in one location at a go and then move to another location and complete all the scenes in that location. It will save a lot of your time and efforts. If you keep coming back to the same location, again and again, to shoot different scenes at different time, it will be very expensive in terms of time and money. For example in location 1- there is a total of 9 scenes in the whole film. In the film those 9 scenes might be at the different timeline, but while shooting you shoot it at once. Once you decide which scene will be shot when then you have the freedom to decide which actor will you require when. Scheduling of actors mainly depends on the scheduling of the shoot and location. So first decide the location. Schedule all the scenes according to the location and then schedule the actors. While scheduling also remembers how many shifts will be required in each schedule. Usually one shift if of 8-10 hours, so write down in front of each schedule how many shifts will be there.
4. Preparing the Actors: Actors are the face of the film. They are the one who will convert your vision into reality. If the actors are good, half the film is already made. Therefore it is very important that the director does the script reading with the actor at least 10 to 15 days. By doing this the director will be able to explain the actors his vision properly and the actors also get clear in their mind about the requirement of the characters. Also, make a repo with the actors. It is very important that the actors feel comfortable with the director and vice versa. So break the ice, along with practicing the script also have some fun and make it all easy! It is also very important that all the actors are comfortable too with other fellow actors. Because acting is a game of action and reaction and knowing your co-actors helps a lot!
5. Build a team: Yes! Film making is teamwork. A collaboration between hard-working creative geniuses. So it is very important that you make a very strong team, whose leader is the director. A producer chooses the director and trusts him completely, it is also very important that the director chooses people in his team who he trusts completely. A good leader is one who chooses people who are better than him in the respective field of work. So always remember to pick talented people who know their job better than you. It’s not important to have a big team with unskilled people but to have a small team with skilled talented people. The most important person to a director is the cinematographer, a person who will capture his thoughts into his camera. Pick a good direction team, line production team, art direction team, makeup team, and post-production team. Nurture them, talk to them and take them into confidence and make them believe that it’s their film and not yours and that they are a more important part of the film than you are. And then see, how dedicatedly everyone puts their heart into it! Remember, film making is not for followers. It is for the leaders, who can motivate others, be positive towards life and help people see their dreams and let them achieve it without any ego and selflessness.
6. Budgeting: The most important part. Remember, someone is putting his or her hard-earned money into your film, trusting you completely that you will at least complete your film. In film making, if the film is completed, you have won the battle. So it is very important that you budget your film beforehand. Budgeting is an activity that needs a lot of planning between the director and the producer. A producer has to take into account every aspect of film production keeping the director’s vision in mind. So it is the director’s responsibility that he or she adheres to the budget allotted and does not over exceeds it. If all the above points are properly planned and discussed, there is no chance that the budget will increase anyhow. Unless there are any unavoidable circumstances while shooting a film. While budgeting keep in mind all the things like human resource fees, daily expenses, Lights, camera and equipment costs, actors cost, food, transportation and accommodation cost, legal cost, actors cost, post-production cost, etc. Once you finalize your budget, it is wise to convey your team also the production budget so that they also know their spending limits. Remember, let the trust not be broken between the producer and the director.
So these are the important things to do in the Pre-Production stage. Remember if you want to succeed in film making, this is the stage you have to work on the most.