How movies are made? Filmmaking process, in a nutshell

by Umair Ahmad Khan

We all watch and love movies. They provide us an escape from the real world and plunge us into amazing and wonderful new worlds. Our this amazement with motion pictures has only been growing since the Lumiere Brothers invented cinematography and now, everything is possible with highly realistic Computer Generated effects and sounds. This love affair with movies has turned movie-industry into a multi-billion dollar industry, and studios like Warner Bros. and Walt Disney etc are earning more than billion dollars in revenue for movies. But have you ever wondered, how movies are made? What are the processes that turn an idea or a fantasy into the brilliant spectacles, we see on our screens?


Filmmaking, in academic context, is the process of making a film. This process contains various phases that convert the initial idea into what we see on our screens. Filmmaking has to deal with many aspects ranging from economic aspects, social, political and also the technological aspects of the processes involved in making a movie.  Term ‘filmmaking’ can also be considered a synonym to “production”.


Process of making a movie has five phases namely development, Pre-production, Production, Post-Production and finally Distribution. These stages/phases have subphases which are explained below:


a). Initially, the producer chooses the story, which may be based on a book, play, another film, true events or maybe an original idea. Upon identification of underlying message or theme, producer will work with writers to prepare a synopsis. After story selection, they develop step-outline, which breaks down the entire story into scenes.

b). Then, a screenwriter writes a screenplay, which is modified again and again for better dramatization etc. Also, a film distributor may be hired to asses the potential market and revenue of the film. This is often done by analysis of success-rate of similar films, actors appearing in the movie and directors. So, producers and screenwriters prepare a film pitch and present it to potential financiers If a film fails here, it is termed as “development hell” and if it is given “green-light”, it means that someone is offering financial backing, which usually is big studio.

Once, a project has been given greenlight, it steps into Pre-Production.


a). Here, the actual making of the film begins. A Production company and a production office is established. The screenplay is turned into concept arts with the help concept artists. A production budget is established and also insurance is procured. Employees in this process depend upon the size of film. Most high budget movies employ hundreds while some small budget movies may need as few as ten people.

b). A storyboard artist, helps the directors to properly communicate their ideas to production team.

c), Director is primarily responsible for storytelling, acting and all major creative decisions, while an assistant director manages the shooting and filming schedule.

d). A film producer, hires the crew. A production manager is in charge budget and expanses management, while a location manager has manage filming locations, whether it is outdoor location or a studio.

e). Production designer creates visuals of the film, and with art director, manages production sets, while a costume designer, designs the costumes to be worn by actors in the movie.

f). A Casting Director, finds actors to play the parts in the script. This is usually done by auditions and sometimes, roles are offered to actors without audition due to their acting skills. For example, role of Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad was offered without audition to Margot Robbie.

g). Director of Photography, supervises cinematographers. Choreographers are hired to supervise dance movements and for action movies fight choreographers and stuntsmen and stuntswomen are also hired. A sound designer creates acoustics of the movie and supervises audio-editors etc.

h).  A composer is hired to create the new music (soundtrack) for the film.


In production phase, the real work begins. Here, film is shot and created. Acting schedules are prepared and are managed by the assistant directors, which maybe more than one depending upon the size of casts. Also, actors are usually multiple movies simultaneously, so their timings are also to be managed.

In addition to this VFX artists are hired to do CGI work, if needed.

This is the phase which takes the majority of time. Scenes maybe shot again and again to get the best cut desired by the director.

Sound Editors are also on the job.

In general, all those people hired in pre-production phase carry out their jobs.


a). Here, the film is assembled by the film-editors. Sound editing is carried out. Songs are woven into the film.

b). Sound Effects are added.

c). CGI, soundtrack etc is added to the film.

d). The end product of post-production is same as what we see on our screens. Here, making phase ends, and marketing phase begins.

f). Teasers and trailers are released the world via video hosting services primarily YouTube, which show glimpses of full film and they create a hype in the audience for the film. Films are also promoted through their own and studio’s official websites.


It is the final stage. Here film is released to cinema, occasionally to home-releases like DVD or Blu-Ray disks or to web streaming services like Netflix or Amazon prime etc.

Usually, distributors release the film with a launch party, a so-called red-carpet premiere, press-preview screening and film-festival-screening.

Press-preview and film-festival screenings yield critics reviews which then result to urge in viewers whether they should or should not watch the movie.

Initially, movie is released to cinemas, where it stays for sometime depending on the popularity and critics or early audience reviews.

After, a movie takes it share from cinemas, its DVD or Blu-Ray versions are released,

Profits and losses are shared by Distributors and Production Company.

Actors, directors and other crew usually receive fix paycheck.

#movies #fimmaking #production #films #hollywood

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