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COMMUNITY FILM PROJECTS FACTSHEET 4: A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO THE PRODUCTION PROCESS This factsheet aims to give you an overview of the different stages in the production process and understand some of the terms used. 1. Development It is important that you prepare well before filming so that you don’t waste time and effort filming scenes you don’t need. First you need to develop your film idea. Streamline your idea as much as possible to the essential elements or story. What do you want your film to say? How can you tell your story in a fresh way? You also need to think about your ideal audience. Who will want to see your film and where will they watch it? During the development stage, you will usually: Develop your ideas Write your script or, if you are planning a documentary, write a full treatment of your idea Plan the length of your film and the format you will use with screening (exhibition and distribution) in mind Storyboard your film (Storyboarding means planning your shoot with drawings or photos of each scene. It will help you focus on how your film will look.) 2. Pre-Production You begin pre-production when you have a well-developed script and you are clear what the project is about and who the audience is. The pre-production stage is all about planning how you will turn your script into a great film. This is the time for detailed and specific planning – for pinning down the schedule. This is a written plan of what will take place at each stage of your production - from casting, rehearsals, the shooting schedule, to the post-production and delivery of your film. During the pre-production period you will usually: Prepare an overall schedule Audition and cast actors Book crew (Decide who will do what and make sure they are available when you need them) Prepare the shooting script (Pin down the locations and group your scenes together in the order they will be filmed) Identify the locations you will use and get permission to film there (If you are planning to film in public spaces you need to get local authority permission. Contact Northern Film & Media’s Location Service Manager on 0191 269 9209 for help and advice on finding locations and gaining permission from local authorities and private owners). Prepare shooting schedule (Plan your shoot. Decide what will happen on what day – and prepare contingency plans for bad weather) Book locations and transport Book catering provision Sort out insurance Sort out copyright clearance for any pre-recorded music you intend to use Rehearse – directors and actors Prepare locations / sets (i.e. do any art work and set dressing) Sort out costumes and props if necessary Produce call sheets - daily plans that let everyone know when they are expected and what they are expected to do 3. Production Overview After all your careful planning you are now ready for your shoot. During the production phase you will usually: shoot scenes plan ahead for next days shoot reschedule if things go wrong NB: There will be a lot of hanging around during the shoot. You may wish to think about what to do with your participants during “down time” so they do not get bored and disillusioned. Production stills You should also be taking high quality stills photographs during the production or capturing artwork which can be used to market the film once finished. Release forms You must make sure that you obtain a release form from anyone who appears in the film. This is a form that people sign to say that they are happy for you to use their image in your film. If you do not obtain this they can refuse to let you show your work. (You can download forms from the First Light website at www.firstlightmovies.com) 4. Post Production This is the editing part – it falls into two sections – off-line and online. The key creative decisions are made in the off-line edit, so you may wish to involve members of your group in this part of the process. Off-line edit Lower cost, lower picture-quality edit. All editing decisions are made during this time (except for special effects that will require sophisticated equipment). On-line edit High cost, high picture-quality edit. All the pictures in your film are replaced from the original tapes at the highest resolution available. Special effects and captions are added, and pictures are colour graded at this stage. If you are hoping that your programme will be broadcast, the on-line editor will also make sure that signal levels recorded on your final master edit conform to the standards set for broadcast video/audio. Sound Dub Additional sound effects and music are mixed with the recorded sound. Use of Music: We strongly advise you NOT to use pre-recorded popular music on your film for the following reasons: If you want to use pre-recorded music on your final film soundtrack you must get permission from the copyright/performing rights holder. Using a well-known track is likely to be prohibitively expensive. If you do not get clearance to use the music on your soundtrack you will not be able to show your film or enter it for festivals. You must always check out the cost of any clearing any music you want to use right at the beginning of the pre-production process. We advise using a cheaper alternative such as: Commissioning specially composed music OR Using “library music” – mood music commissioned/promoted by specialist music agencies. 5. Screening / Exhibition and Distribution You may want to screen your film at a cinema, or a non-theatrical venue. You will need to have publicity and marketing ideas to promote the film and encourage an audience to come and see it. Plan to take good quality stills pictures during the production, so you have a strong image to promote your film. Make sure you have sorted out the following issues early on the production process, otherwise you may find you are unable to show your film. Music – Have you got copyright clearance? (See pre-production and post production sections) Release forms (See production) You may need to specify a viewing age for your film if there is strong language or violent/sexually explicit content. If you want to show your film to the general public, you will need to apply to your local authority licensing department for permission. They will be happy to give you advice. You will need to send them a copy of your film at least 28 days prior to the screening. FACTSHEETS IN THE COMMUNITY FILM PROJECT SERIES Factsheet 1: First Steps for Community Film Projects Factsheet 2: Choosing a Film-maker Factsheet 3: Sample Budgets Factsheet 4: A Beginner’s Guide to the Production Process Factsheet 5: Finding Out About Festivals
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