Film New Orleans

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Filmmaking 101

So you want the scoop? The following is a basic explanation of the processes behind making a film.

Step 1: Writing the Script

After coming up with an idea and concept for a story, you must have a script that adheres to the basic formatting requirements.  A tip is to share your script revisions with people you trust to give you an honest opinion. Be able to take criticism, but also use that to help better your script. Sharing your script in this way can often help you get a fresh perspective and help you get around an obstacle you may have hit.

Step 2: Selling Your Script

Each year Hollywood is inundated with approximately 100,000 un-produced scripts. The chances of a first time writer being produced is approximately 140,000 to 1. Studios receive and review around 5,000 scripts a year, and of these a whopping 12 are sent on to become real live spectacles for the eyes and ears. Now to become one of those twelve there are a few paths. The first, and best chance for success (which in no means that its a good chance) is to get an agent. The Writers Guild Signatory Agent List provides a comprehensive listing of all agents who represent writers. So you start sending out inquiries and send you script on to positive replies. An agent is extremely valuable for two reasons. First, they are known (or least better known that you most likely will be) and thus can get access to places you perhaps cannot, and second, they are familiar with the business and can help guide you through what could be an exremely difficult ordeal.

Step 3: Pre-Production

Pre-production is the phase during which the film is planned. It is not a step that can be skipped, and its careful execution is the first step to ensuring that the film will turn out well. In a word it is planning. Once the script is submitted it is, in almost all cases, out of the writer’s hands. What happens next is different for each script. It may be bought by a studio, be picked up by an agent to be distributed to possible buyers, etc. Enter the producer. The producer will become attached to the film either during the buying stage, where he or she will be the sole investor or will pressure their studio into buying the script, or he or she may be assigned by their studio once the script comes into the general production pool. The producer will then look over the script and make the changes he or she believes to be necessary to strengthen the story. Often times this comes in the form of having a second writer re-write dialogue, etc. The original writer, unless he is still doing the re-writes due to contractual agreements or is extremely skilled and capable of polishing his or her own script, will have no part in this and will be either surprised or outraged or both at the changes being made to the script. Once the producer gets the script to where he or she feels comfortable with it, a director is chosen. The producers will seek out directors whose talents match the subject matter of the story.

Step 4: Production

Production is the most grueling part of filmmaking. The cast and crew can frequently spend 12 or more hours on the set, filming only three or four pages of script, often in very uncomfortable locations. This goes on for days, weeks, months with the same schedule day after day, review dailies (the footage shot yesterday), shoot today’s footage, prepare for tomorrow’s filming. For many people though, this is the most exhilarating part of production and this is indeed where “the magic happens.”

Step 5: Post-Production

Post-Production involves every step after primary filming, editing and correction, re-shoots, marketing, etc.