Production Process


Once basic agreement on the script is achieved, early preparations begin for the actual filming. Director, cast, and film crew are assigned while script development continues. Suggestions made by the director are incorporated, and the script is tailored to fit the image of the selected stars. Each member of the crew is provided with a copy of the script to assist preparations for principal photography. Decisions are made about which parts of the film will be shot on studio sets, and which on location. In general, studio shooting is preferred as it allows a greater degree of control over both the artistic and practical elements of the production process, and avoids the expense of transporting and accommodating cast, crew, and equipment. Filming on location is preferred for greater realism. If it is a location shoot, locations are selected during preproduction and all the practical arrangements are made in preparation for the arrival of the cast and crew.

Under the studio system, the larger production companies employed not only a variety of sound stages, but also extensive grounds on which potentially flexible sets remained standing for repeated use. For instance, parts of the Jerusalem set built for Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings (1927) can also be seen in King Kong (1933), The Garden of Allah (1936), and Gone with the Wind, (1939), amongst other films. The redressing of sets, with superficial alterations, disguised their repeated use and was an important factor in the economy of the studio system. Standing sets would be readied for production and new sets built when necessary (although the latter expensive and time-consuming activity was avoided when possible). In addition to standing sets, the large studios also maintained vast collections of costumes, furniture, fake weapons, and even live animals, all of which individual productions could book for use. During the studio era these activities were organized internally by heads of departments who worked to ensure that all these resources were selected and made ready during preproduction. Following the dismantling of the studio system, it has become common for productions to rent studio space, costumes, props, and other materials from independent businesses that provide specialized services to the film industry.

Before filming begins, a shooting schedule is prepared. This describes the order in which scenes will be filmed, which usually differs from the order in which they will appear in the finished film. The plan allows the film to be shot as quickly and cheaply as possible. All the scenes using a particular set or location are normally shot consecutively. The availability of actors can also dictate the order in which scenes are filmed. For instance, Goldfinger (1964) began shooting in Miami without its star Sean Connery, who was still working on Marnie (1964) at the time. Goldfinger 's Fontainebleau Hotel set later had to be reconstructed at Pinewood Studios in England once Connery became available, and back projection was used to incorporate footage shot on location.

Some directors regard the practice of shooting out of sequence as artistically compromising. In some rare instances directors insist on shooting films completely in sequence—a practice that allows actors to fully engage with their roles, but is costly in other respects. Ken Loach, the British director of Raining Stones (1993), Ladybird, Ladybird (1994), and Sweet Sixteen (2002), is one famous advocate of shooting in sequence, since strong performances are always the lynchpin of his films.

Other articles you might like:

Follow Founder
on our Forum or Twitter

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: