Anybody can direct a picture once they know the fundamentals. Directing is not a mystery; it's not an art. The main thing about directing is: photograph the people's eyes
. - Jon Ford
Although we watch films regularly, enjoy some detest many and analyze almost everything that is dished out to us on celluloid, very rarely do we sit down and think about the numerous facets of the film production process that go into the making of a complete film. Film-making is like any other form of art, and most of all a means of expression. A story or a narrative penned down by the writer has to be transformed into an active screenplay, which is in turn re-created by the troupe of actors, captured through the lens of the camera and then edited again to insert sound, special effects and create a seamless piece of film that is ready to be screened for the audience. The process can be divided into 4 main stages:
This is the stage where the hunt for a viable idea/story for a film begins. The script can either be an original written by a scriptwriter or it can be inspired from an existing book, play, or true story. Once the idea is finalized, a synopsis of the theme will be created. The next step is sketching a step outline. Here, the entire story is broken down into one-paragraph scenes that are numbered and include indications for dialog and character interactions.
The treatment for the film is also created which is like a descriptive piece of prose about the film which is longer than the synopsis, but shorter and less detailed than the step outline. Once the script is ready, it has to be transformed into a screenplay. The main difference between a script and a screenplay is that a script is narrative but a screenplay is a detailed description of every event and detail which will be seen on the screen. The screenplay is written and re-written to improvise on elements like characterization, dramatization, and the overall style and feel. After this, the "pitch" is made and presented to potential financiers for the film. If the pitch is triumphant, the movie gets the green light. Financial backing is offered, usually from a film studio, council, or in some cases, independent investors. After this, a deal is negotiated and all the official contracts are signed.
Pre-production involves planning, which first requires setting up of a production company and an office. The entire screenplay is storyboarded by means of illustrators and concept artists. Famous Indian director, Satyajit Ray
, was known for his perfectionist attitude and was known to sketch his own storyboards for every scene with attention to the finest details that he wanted on the screen. After the story boarding, the pre-production process also involves hiring the film crew.
A Typical Crew Includes:
- Assistant director
- Casting Director
- Director of Photography
- Location Manager
- Art Director
- Production Manager
- Production Designer
- Production Sound Mixer
- Sound Designer
- Make-up artists
- Costume Designers
- Property Master
- Script Supervisor
- Picture Editor
The director is the captain of the ship. He is responsible for every step in the production process. This is the stage where the movie is actually shot. A typical shooting schedule starts when the sets are constructed with additional props; lighting and the camera and sound recording equipment are all in place. Simultaneously the actors get ready with their costumes and make-up. The actors rehearse their dialog and discuss the blocking (which refers to the precise movement and positioning of the actors) with the director. The actors then have a live rehearsal with the picture and sound crews and the action is shot until the director gets the desired result. Every report sheet in all the departments, make it a point to record the important technical notes for every take. If traditional photographic film is being used in the process, the negatives are sent to the film laboratory for processing and are then reviewed and edited. However, the advances in technology now enable easy review and digital editing of films on the computer with the help of latest software.
The role of the film-editor is chiefly instrumental in the post-production process of filmmaking. Film editing work flow can be accomplished by 2 possible methods:
In this process the original camera film which is also called the negative is developed and made into a one-light work print which is known as the positive. These positives or work prints are then edited using a mechanical editing machine. A simple edge code is marked onto the film to locate the positions of numerous picture frames.
In this process the picture film or the negative is transferred into electronic form and then edited with various non-linear editing systems like Avid, Quantel, or Final Cut Pro. This is technically advanced method and hence is less time-consuming while rendering good quality.
The editor first chooses the best shots from the available options and manages to create a rough cut of the movie which is then polished and edited further to give the final cut of the film. Once the picture is ready, the film is forwarded to the sound department to create the soundtrack. The final stage of the process is distribution of the film, which involves making copies of the movie according to the releasing requirement of cinema owners or sometimes the DVD/VCD or VHS distributors. The movie is advertised through press kits, posters, trailers and other possible media options that are convenient for the film producer.
Tips for Film Producers
- Always plan ahead. The pre-production process is instrumental in shaping up of the entire movie. Plan every step carefully
- Before finalizing a script, analyze it for its viability and possible target audience.
- Always plan every step according to your production budget, do not go overboard, try to stick by the allotted production budget.
- Plan your shooting schedule well in advance and co-ordinate with the entire crew to maintain the workflow and complete the production of your film according to the set plan.
- Features like special effects and audio tracks appropriately so that they enhance the visuals rather than being distracting.
- Use production equipment that suits your requirements and fits your budget.
- If you require help in specific departments, outsource services according to your requirement. For example the production equipment, editing services or even troupes of actors/extras can be hired
Last but not the least no matter how big or small a movie is, on completion of the film there has to be a wrap-up
party where the entire cast and crew can watch the movie and celebrate the completion of the successful venture!