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1) The idea
Making a film takes years and involves hundreds of people, but all films start with a moment of inspiration, when someone thinks that would make a great film.
Remakes remakes of existing films and adaptations of plays and TV/radio productions are becoming increasingly common. Remaking something that already exists adds a level of security to the production and makes it easier to define the market. This can be helpful in attracting financial banking. The risk is that audiences will not respond as strongly to an idea that they have heard before Real life events a surprising number of films are based on real life events . True stories can capture the imagination of modern audiences, and producers are always on the lookout for filmable real life events. Interesting true stories can be found in magazines, biographies, non-fiction, personal experiences or through a chance meeting. Having an eye for a good story is a vital skill for any filmmaker Original ideas original ideas are the most valuable commodity in the filmmaking business. Ideas could come from a moment of inspiration, a chance conversation with a friend, or a dream etc. Protecting the idea is crucial, and film producers often take out errors and omissions insurance which cover them if they are sued for libel, slander, breach of copyright and the like Adaptations books often inspire successful films, and a successful book can generate publicity and deliver an audience for a film that will guarantee a return on the investment Producers are always looking for a great idea for a film, something that they believe will attract audiences. The producer will acquire the rights to a story, an adaptation, or in some cases an original script, or might just have a great idea. They may identify a completed script that they think will sell. Once they have identified an idea that they will sell, it is their job to make this idea into a reality, first by developing the project further, and then by getting it made and released. They do not handle the financial side of the filmmaking, but are often the creative and commercial driving force behind the whole project. The first thing that a producer needs is someone to turn their inspirational idea into something tangible that they can finance a treatment and a pitch. Their first task is to attract a good writer and a good director to the project. If the script has already been written, the producer will either work with the original writer to improve it, or else acquire the rights and employ another writer to develop it further. A respected writer can help attract other talented people to the project, including a director. The creative film of a development of a film always involves a director sooner or later, and often their involvement begins very early in the process. In some cases a director may have an idea for a film, and will approach a producer to take the project forward, although it is more common for a producer to approach a director. The Director will work with the Producer to develop the film into something that can be filmed. The quality and past work of the Director wil l become a key selling point for the Producer to attract financial banking later on, so it is essential that the Producer secures a Director with a good reputation. Directors usually have agents. They act on behalf of the Director to get the best deal in return for their time and skills. And then they take a percentage cut. Directors agents need something to work with though, about previous films they have made and information about awards they have won for past work. The relationship between the Producer, Writer and Director is the key creative triangle in the film business. Writers themselves will usually have an idea for a film and will have a script or treatment already written. The majority of the time
1) Sources of inspiration
Inspiration is all around us, in newspapers, books, plays, films and even a casual conversation
Wherever the idea comes from, it is the producer who decides to make this great idea into a reality
A director can visualize a script and make it a reality: they know how to take a story and put it onto the screen
The writer defines and
clarifies the idea, the plot and the characters, and turns it into something tangible
though, the Producer approaches the Writer and brings them on board to write the film they want to make. Producers (and Executives at studios) have clear ideas of what they are looking for from a writer.
The writer will then write a treatment, a one page description of the main story and characters of the film
A treatment is the description of key events and people in the film. It should be well written in a style that fits the genre of the film (for example, if the film is a thriller, the treatment should be more exiting to read, if the film is a comedy, the treatment should make you smile). It should give the reader of what makes the film unique and interesting to watch.
A pitch contains all the information the producer needs in order to sell the idea to financiers to commission a script
One-liner this is a one sentence description of the film. Writing one liners is a useful skill to acquire. The UK Film Council run a regular competition for development funding based on one-liners, called 25 Words or Less . Genre this helps other people to understand what the style and content of the film are going to be like. American screenwriters are much more accustomed to writing in genres than writers in the UK. UK producers and agents are always on the lookout for good genre scripts in the country. Market (sometimes called target audience ). This answers the vital questions for filmmakers and financiers. If the answer is too vague, it might sound too specific and false. It needs to be a realistic description involving at least the following categories: sex, age, race, education, religion, political affiliation, media use habits, economic status/income, size of family, marital status, geographic location. People attached this consists of a list of people attached to the project at this stage, plus their credits. At this stage it is unlikely to run to more than the Writer, Producer and Director. The quality of the people attached is perhaps the most important factor in attracting financiers. Rough budget this gives the reader an idea of what the film w ill cost to make. Establishing a budget early on is crucial, and the Producer, Writer and Director must all agree what the maximum budget is and work within those limitations from the beginning. Brief synopsis this expands a little on the one-liner, for people who want more detail of the film.
2) Development Finance
The next step in the development in the project is to turn the rough idea into a final script ready for production. This costs money.
Turning the idea into a finished script can take a long time to get right, and time costs money. Funding is needed to support the Writer, the Producer and sometimes the Director during this process. This money is called Development Funding. The Producer goes to potential funders and pitches the project to them, hoping that they will believe in the idea and invest money to develop it further. The producer can invest in the development themselves (or through their own production company). If they can afford to do this, they can retain all the rights to the resulting package themselves. This is a great benefit to the Producer and to the project as a whole, especially when it comes to financing the production proper. However, this production is also very high risk, because there is no
1)Pitching the project
The producer uses the treatment and pitch, plus their powers of persuasion, to get money to develop a script
external verification of the inspirational idea. Creative control is all very well, but commercial money from an audience-facing, market-driven investor (including broadcasters like the BBC) is the best endorsement that the film will sell. Deep pockets and strong nerves are required in film development. If the Producer can persuade the production company that the film is going to make profits, they may offer development money to develop a script. In return for this development money, the production company asks for the right (but no the obligation) to take the outcome of the development process (the package) and to be involved in the making of the film. This level of involvement in the making process can vary from full funding (the production company puts up a full budget in return for a big percentage in future profits from the film), to part funding (the production company puts up some of the budget for a smaller percentage). Because their getting involved early in the process, the production company can usually insist on receiving a disproportionally large percentage of future profits. Only a very small percentage of films that are developed (around 1%) are actually made, so most production companies operate a slate of projects (a number of films developing in parallel). That way, by negotiating favourable amount of deals on each project, one big win will pay for lots of unmade scripts. Companies that operate in this way usually have a Head of Development of even a team of Development Executives to develop the projects on their slate. This is a very competitive area of work, as there are fewer people working in development than ever in the UK. The Sales Company sale companies sometimes provide development money for projects which they feel are particularly marketable. In return, the sales company will ask for the right to sell the film to distribution companies in some or all territories, and to take a percentage of the resulting revenue. This is good for the Producer, as it shows their inspirational idea is so potentially profitable that a hard-nosed commercial organisation is prepared to part with cash. The Producer can then tell other investors that the film already has the first part of the mechanism in place to get it in front of audiences. The Broadcaster in return for development money, a Broadcaster will ask for the rights to show the film on certain of their television channels. These might be free TV channels like BBC1, subscription channels like Sky Movies, or pay-per-view films. Investment from Broadcasters is a good sign that the idea will attract an audience. The Producer will also be able to tell other investors that the film already has the third part of the mechanism in place to get the film seen. The Distribution Company Distribution Companies are vital if the film is to reach its audience. In return for development money, the Distribution Company will ask for the right to distribute the fil m to Exhibitors (cinema owners), Retailers, Rental Companies and Broadcasters. The Distribution Company will also take a percentage of the resulting revenue. Securing money from a Distribution Company represents a real endorsement that the idea is marketable and will make money for the Distributors, either in the cinema or in alternative formats. The Producer will also be able to tell other investors that the film already has the second part of the mechanism in place to get in front of audiences. Public Funding Bodies The UK Film Council operates a limited Development Fund designed to foster talent and improve the quality and variety of scripts in the UK. There are also similar funds available at regional national level, from organisations such as Sgrin, Scottish Screen, the Northern Ireland Film Commission and the Nine English Regional Screen Agencies (RSAs). These are development agencies charged with building vibrant and sustainable media sectors within the nations and regions of the UK, and encouraging public access to film culture. There are also several other smaller organizations offering development funds to projects within film and other media. Public bodies such as the UK Film Council still operate in the commercial world,
The producer approaches film production companies for development money, but they have projects of their own
3)Sales, Distribution, Broadcast
The producer can offer the future sales and broadcast rights to the film in return for money to develop the script
The producer can also apply to a public funding body such as the UK Film Council for a development grant
but will only invest in films that they believe have an audience. Many public funding schemes are tied into particular strategic goals, such as diversity or promotion of a particular religion. The private investor There are many private investors in the UK and internationally with the financial resources needed to fund the development of a script. Persuading them to invest is the difficult part. Again, this is where having a great idea becomes vital. If an individual is prepared to invest in a film at such an early stage, they will usually demand a lot in return. In return for putting up the development money, the investor gets the right (but not the obligation) to take the outcome of the development process (the package) and to be involved in the making of the film. The Development Deal - The Producer has managed to get a development deal. It includes an agreement from the sales, distribution and broadcast companies they met earlier, and from the Film Council, to provide money to get the film developed. In return, they give away some rights over the project. They have to work closely with these sources of development funding now to keep everyone happy. The Writer s Agent - Writers have agents who represent them in their dealings with the Directors and Producers. The agent is a salesperson, who acts on behalf of the Writer to get the best deal for the writing (and their percentage cut). Writers with a great idea still need to get their work to a Producer and convince them to make their film, and pay them to develop it. Agents are the people who can help them achieve this. Also, if a Producer is looking for a Writer to develop their idea, they will often go to an agent and get advice on who would suit the job. Agents are therefore very important people in the film business, and along with Producers are the key filters of writing talent in the UK. Writers agents need something to work with, like previous scripts that have been filmed, or samples of their writing. Writers can t get an agent without g ood quality work to show evidence of their talents. And before an agent can help a Writer sell an inspirational idea, they need a treatment and a pitch.
The producer can even pitch the film to private investors, in the hope that they will support the project
6)Tying down the writer
The producer can even pitch the film to private investors, in the hope that they will support the project
3) Script Development
With develop finance secured, it is down to the writer to deliver the product that the producer and financiers want
Common Understanding The Writer and Producer are still working very closely together at this stage to shape the script, and it s crucial for the success of the project they are both making the same film . This means that they must share a common understanding of what kind of film they are making, not only in terms of genre and target audience, but also of budget. The Producer needs to manage this overactive imagination to make sure the Writer creates a script that fits with the budget they think can secure to make it. Similarly, good scriptwriters must have a good understanding of how to write to a budget, and the most experienced with have detailed knowledge about how much the scenes will cost to film. The Step Outline The step outline contains short written descriptions of all the scenes that will eventually make up the script, detailing the action in much more detail and
First, the writer produces a synopsis, and he and the producer agree, or not, on the key scenes and events in the film
There are as many ways of writing as there are
writers, but most writers create a step outline to plan their script
showing where scene breaks will occur. Each step describes important plot events and significant development to the main characters. This stage is a juggling act, where the Writer plans the overall structure and pacing of the film. Writers will often set out the different steps of cards, so that they can change the order of scenes and try different structures to see what works best before writing the final outline. A step outline for a feature is usually around 10 pages long. The First Draft Film scripts, whether first draft or final draft, don t just contain dialogue, but also the actions and events that will be seen on screen, and sometimes transitions between scenes. Screenwriting is about far more than what the characters say: writers must understand how to tell a story visually, to show events actually taking place rather than people talking about the. Writing for the scene is a unique and specialist discipline, quite unlike any form of writing, and the very best writers command huge respect and huge fees in the industry. Screenwriters at the top of their profession are in fact often brought in to rescue or ghost-write a script that is in difficulty provided the Producer can afford them. All the scripts that the Writer produces must be fully formatted in the standard way that everyone in the industry expects. The terminology used, page layout, font, even paper size have been standardised for years, and the Writer must follow them exactly. These conventions exist to enable the script to be turned into a film in the easiest way possible, by breaking out action, dialogue, character names, props, and so on, scene by scene. Before the shoot, the Writer s draft will be turned into a shooting script, where these elements are expanded to allow the production team to schedule and set-up each scene to be shot. Writing a first draft is complex and very challenging, and all writers have different approached and methods. However they work, they all need to end up with the same result a script that effectively describes what will appear on the screen. To achieve this, the Writer will often need to work alone, sometimes for weeks or even months, to hammer out the first draft script. This is the hardest part of the screenwriting process, but also the most satisfying.
Part of the writer s fee is conditional on delivery of the first draft. This can be the hardest part of screenwriting
Once the writer and producer are happy, the draft is sent to the financiers, all of whom will have their own ideas Same as drafts ^
When everyone is happy with the script, it is locked off and becomes a final draft. Then the writer gets paid
Once the Director, the Producer and the Writer have all approved the script, it becomes the final draft. This is the script that is taken forwa rds to the next stage of the process, so for the Writer, this is the finished product. There may be rewrites required during packaging, financing or pre-production, but these may be done by the Director, Producer or another writer. In the majority of cases, the Writer s involvement in the project is now at an end. The Director is formally attached to the project and will take the creative lead on it from now on. The Producer (often with the help of the Director and the Writer) will write a Sales Treatment based on the Final Draft script. A sales treatment is a synopsis designed to sell the film to potential financiers. It is an advert for the script, a nd uses more emotive language than the Writer s original synopsis. It focuses on the key selling points of the story, including intriguing characters, interesting plot twists, and big set pieces or scenes with a particular wow factor.
The final stage of the script development process is the creation of a sales treatment
With the script complete, the director and producer decide how they want to film it, and who they will employ to help them. What is packaging?
The producer and director must now package the script into a full commercial preposition, ready for financing The Rough Budget First, the Producer takes the sales treatment and the final draft script and comes up with a rough budget, based on the initial very rough budget. It is an estimate of roughly how much funding they can expect to secure for the script, and where they intend to secure for the script, and where they intend to channel it to make the film sell. This enables them to choose suitably priced above the line talent. The Stars stars are commercial assets, and are crucial in attracting funding to a film. The bigger the star, the higher the above the line costs, as their fees can be huge. But if the stars are right, it can make the difference between getting the film made or not, and between the finished film going on to be a commercial success or a failure. Some stars are known as Green Light Names (people with sufficient clout in the industry or at the box office to secure financi ng for a film). There are very few such stars in the UK. Producers usually contact actors via their agents. Actors agents take a percentage of their earnings and hence make sure that the work they do either pays well now or raises their profile (to improv e future earning capacity). If an actor is asked to get involved at this stage of the process, the agent will negotiate their fee should the film get made. This is usually made up of a lump sum, plus a percentage of the Producer s net. Percentages of future revenues (Producer s net) that the Producer gives away at this stage to lure people into the package are called talent points . The Package - the Producer s assistant collects the elements of the package for the Producer. At the moment, they only have the final draft script, the sales treatment and a rough budget, to which they hope to add headshots of the film s main stars. The Editor a top Editor can transform a film. Getting a well known named Editor on boards early can help persuade potential financiers that the finished product will be an enjoyable film. The Production Designer Like the DoP, the Production Designer is incredibly important for the visual appearance of the film, since they design all the sets and objects seen in the film and work with other departments to keep a consistent vision for the production. If the Director manages to get a good designer on board, potential financiers will be assured the film will look right . The Director of Photography the Director of Photography is an extremely important figure in the film. They, with the Production Designer, Costume, Location, are responsible for giving the film the distinctive look that will make it a success. They can transform a script with their pictures, and if they work well with the Director, the images they create can define the whole film, both critically and commercially. The Package the Producer s assistant is poised to add the credits of the lists of the Heads of Departments to the final draft script, the sales treatment, the rough budget and a list of attached stars. HODs will want talent points at this stage, which means they negotiate a fee or percentage of profits in return for agreeing to be attached. The HODs, stars, Director, Writer and Producer are collectively known as the above the line talent. The Line Producer before they can pitch for funding, the Producer needs to know how much time and money the film will take to make. To do t his she gets helps from a Line Producer. The Line Producer is effectively a logistical expert, hired by the Producer and reporting only to her. His main responsibilities are to supervise the budget, hire the crew, approve purchase orders and make sure all departments are doing their respective jobs within the budget, and most importantly that the schedule is met. At this stage, his job is to help the Producer
One common way to make the film more commercial is to attach well known stars to the script
The Heads of Department (HODS)
Respected, commercially successful Heads of Department carry considerable clout of knowledgeable financiers
Detailed budget and production schedule
To turn the film into a proper business preposition, the producer must know how much it will actually cost to make
decide how much money to raise by creating a draft schedule and a high-level budget. The Budget film budgets are long spreadsheet documents that itemise in huge detail the money that the Producer intends to spend on making and finishing the film. At this stage, there is a limit to the amount of detail in the budget, but the Producer must have a good idea at this stage of how they will spend a financier s money. Some things are undecided at this stage, but these are noted as contingencies. Its not completed until the film is fully financed. A key part of the budget is insurance costs, since all productions must be insured against public liability, loss of shooting days, and other eventualities. The Producer must obtain a quote at this stage from a film insurance specialist to insure the eventual production. The insurers will look through every detail of the production and give advice on which insurance is required. Stunk work, special effects, exotic locations or use of animals will increase premiums, and so too will certain casting decisions, since the health of the actors can be a risk for a production. They will also consider other factors, such as insuring true stories in case the real-life characters sue for libel. Film insurers are extremely powerful people in the film business. The Production Schedule before any money can be raised, the Producer must decide exactly what they film will cost to make, and to do this she must work out how long it will take to shoot and finish. The production schedule is a complex chart that shows which people need to do what, for how long, and where, in order to get the film made. It is difficult to plan everything at this stage, so this document remains in draft state until funding, cast and crew have all been finalised. The Package the package now comprises the final draft script, the sales treatment, and lists of attached stars and HOD credits. With the creative side of the proposal complete, now the financial side must be added. The Finance Plan the finance plan is the Producer s plan of how to raise finance for the film. It will list the people and organization that the Producer intends to approach with the project. This is a very sensitive document. The Producer doesn t want anyone to feel that they re bottom of the list and have only been approached for finance because everyone else has rejected the idea. The Recoupment Schedule this is an estimate of how the film will make money. It will list estimates of revenue from all likely sources: cinema, broadcast, DVD and merchandise. As the package, including attached stars and crew, changes, so will the finance plan and the recoupment schedule and getting them all to work out properly is a juggling act. The Package the package is almost done at this stage and the Producer s assistant is holding almost the complete package. The final draft script, the sales treatment, the list of attached stars and HOD credits, and the budget and production schedule are all now included. The final documents need adding and the package will be complete. The final elements of the package are now in place. The packaged film has a final draft script, a sales treatment, a list of attached stars and HODs, a detailed budget, a production schedule, a finance plan and a recoupment schedule. The Producer must now present this package to a number of potential funders to get money to make the film. Who they approach will depend on past experiences, but a good producer must know who to go to for funding. It is more likely that potential funders will want to make changes to the package, but now for at least, the Producer is ready to negotiate with the money men. The Producer then has to do the hardest part of the filmmaking, namely sell the package to financiers and film studios.
Finance plan and recoupment schedule
Potential investors will want to know the producer plans to raise the money, and how she plans to pay them back
The complete package
The producer has packaged the film into a viable commercial preposition, now it s time to think what people think of it
Filmmaking is an expensive business, and the producer must secure enough funding to make the film to the highest standard possible
Attracting Investment This is a very competitive business and the Producer is up against a huge number of other producers, some with similar packages. This is where their contacts and powers of persuasion become really important. The Director may also be able to help, especially if they are well known in the industry already. The film finance marketplace is international, and to maximise the chances of getting the funding she needs, the Producer must travel. Different countries offer a variety of tax-breaks to those who fund films, so the Producer needs to be aware of these laws when deciding which countries to approach. The Investors There are three main potential sources of investment for a film: Private finance there are a surprising number of private individuals willing to invest in film projects. Some a re just looking for an interesting project to spend their money on, but many are hard-nosed business people with a good understanding of how the industry works. The money they invest is very high risk, but the returns can be huge. Producers with wealthy contacts able to invest in their projects will have the edge over their competitors. Co-productions the majority of production companies worldwide are reluctant to act as the sole investor in a film project. Many are too small to afford the full financing of the film, but most just don t want the risk. Instead, they will identify a project that fits their demographic, and enter into a partnership with the other production company, with both sharing the costs, the risks and the profits of the production. The most common kind of co-production is international co-production, and in return each take exclusive rights to sell the finished film in their respective countries. International co-productions have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly in Europe, often involving companies from five or more different countries all coming together to realise an idea that they believe will be commercially viable in each of their respective markets. Public Investment in the UK there are various sources of public money available for production funding. Organisations such as the UK Film Council, the Regional Screen Agencies and BBFC Films are responsible for channelling investment into film projects that have commercial or artistic merit, or serve the public interest. Although the availability of such funds changes yearly, there is usually money available if the Producer knows where to look. The Sales Company in return for finance, the sales company will want the right to sell the film to distribution companies in some or all territories, and to take a percentage of the resulting revenue. If the sales company was involved at the development phase, they may have the right of first refusal to fund the film and get a good percentage of revenues. The Producer will be pleased to get a sales company involved at this stage, as it will improve the finished film s c hance of being sold to distributors. The Broadcaster in return for providing finance, a Broadcaster will ask for the right to play the finished film on certain of their television channels (after it has
Financiers can be anywhere in the world. To secure the investment they need to make the film. The producer must travel
Private individuals, production companies and public bodies all invest in films. The producers lawyer draws up contracts to seal the deals
The producer can also raise money from presales selling the rights to the film before it has even been made
finished in the cinemas and has had a short time in the rental market). The Distributor in return for providing finance, the distribution company will ask for first refusal on the right to distribute the film to cinemas, retailers, rental companies and broadcasters. This means that, rather than getting a percentage of revenues in the future, the distribution company has effectively bought the finished film before it s finished and will get all the revenues that result from distribution in specified territories. They have the option to refuse this right i f the film doesn t turn out as good as they d hope though. If a distribution company was involved at the development phase, they may have the right of first refusal to finance the film and will get a good percentage of revenues. The Producer will be pleased to get a distribution company involved at this stage, as it will improve the finished films chance of being sold to exhibitors. The Banker There are departments of banks that specialise in film finance. They regard films as business propositions, and have expertise in the risks of film investment and who to invest in. Banks will back a range of films with a range of risk levels, to try to even out returns, rather than focus in particular on funding one film. Like any other investor, in return for their investment, the Bank will ask for a share of future revenues generated by the film, and will charge interest. However, they may also offer their services to help to manage the production budget and to arrange all the necessary money transfers that making a film involves. Having a bank involved in the production can make things a lot easier for the Producer. Banks sometimes offer Gap Funding. This is effectively a loan to cover a shortfall between the money raised so far and the total budget. This can be useful for the Producer, but interest rates are usually pretty high and the loan is paid off first before other financiers see any money. The Insurer Studio financed movies do not usually require completion bonds, because a studio takes the films financial risk, but the vast majority of independent films need completion bonds before they can go into production. Completion bonds are guarantees that if the production runs out of money, the bond issuer (usually an insurance company) supplies the necessary funds to complete the film. Completion bonds are usually required by investors and banks to protect their investment: they need to be sure they will get a finished product for their money. The New Cinema Fund at the UK Film Council requires that any film it backs has a completion bond in place. Film insurance is one of the most complex parts of the film business, and insurers have a great deal of power. The completion guarantor will impose numerous conditions on the Producer, including restrictions on cast and crew, and will monitor the production from start to finish to ensure it stays on schedule. If the Producer makes a claim and the bond is invoked, the guarantor may assume control over the production and be in a recoupment position superior to all the other investors. Companies like Film Finances specialise in film production insurance. Film packaging is very complicated, and no two films are financed in the same way. Financiers will impose conditions on the Producer as part of the deal. They may want to make changes to the package, bring in their own preferred cast and crew, or even demand rewrites to the script. Sometimes investors may even demand contradictory changes, or insist changes that alter the fundamental basis of the film. These changes may be unacceptable to the stars or the Head of Department, who may also have conditions of their own. They may even be unacceptable to the Producer, and in some cases projects can change hands entirely at the financing stage. The majority of films never get beyond this stage and are shelved or abandoned before financing is complete. It is the Producer s job to manage these complex relationships in parallel, negotiate the deals and bring everything together at the same time. They have to protect the creative and commercial vision, whilst still being flexible enough to satisfy the investors and secure the money they need for production. Every film is developed, packaged and financed differently and there is no set
Banks and Gap Funding
There are departments of banks that specialise in film finance. They could invest in commercial projects, and also offer loans
Most financiers insist that a completion bond is in place before they agree to invest. This is insurance for the production
One all the essential funding and insurance is secured, the film gets the green light
template to follow.
With the financing secured, the full cast and crew are hired, and detailed preparation for the shoot begins.
The Casting Director the casting director will need to start to shortlist actors for all the roles required by the script The Editor the Editor will take on the responsibility of choosing the people that will be required once the film movies into post production. During pre-production the Editor will work with the Director to make sure that the transitions described in the shooting script will work on the screen. The Head of Sound needs to be hired too so that they can work out what complexities might arise during the shoot, and who they need to hire. The Head of Sound during pre-production, the Head of Sound is responsible for hiring his team of Sound Recordists and Boom Operators. They will discuss the sound of design of the film with the Director and Producer. The Director of Photography the DoP has a lot to plan at this stage of filmmaking. They have to work with the Production Designer and the Director to make sure that everyone is clear about what style of film to shoot. Also the schedule is most affected by the DoP s camera placement and theirs and the Director s shot and lighting choices. At this stage, the DoP and Director (taking into account budget restraints) will decide about the shooting format i.e. which cameras and which stock. The Production Designer the Production Designer is a very busy person during pre-production. They need to hire an entire team to make sure that all the sets are designed and that the Construction Department builds them to specification, and oversee all the props and other objects seen in the film. They also work with the locations chosen fit with their designs or can accommodate their set constructions. st The 1 Assistant Director as they are responsible for keeping the film on st schedule, the 1 AD will be present during pre-production to help the Producer, the Line Producer and the Production Manager to plan the shoot. The Line Producer the Line Producer is responsible for managing every person and issue during the making of a film. Line Producers only work on one film at a time and will work very closely with the Producer from now on. The Casting Director identifies possible cast members partly through past experience, but also by placing adverts in acting publications and viewing showreels, headshots and CVs. The Casting Director will show actors show -reels to the Director and the Producer hoping to find a past performance that they think would work well in this film. They will also arrange auditions (which are called meetings if the actor is well-known). Most of the cast of the film will be required to audition and possibly to screen-test to get their roles. The Storyboard Artist Most films will employ a storyboard artist to draw each key scene in the way th at it will eventually be filmed. Storyboard artists are experts at quick sketches which give an impression of the eventual shot, including motion and camera moves. They usually also understand story telling and filmmaking techniques and can advise the Director and the DoP on shot choice.
The kick-off meeting
Once all the Heads of Department are hired, the shooting script is circulated and preproduction begins in earnest
The casting director, with the director and producer, begins the longest process of identifying and casting the actors
Storyboards are the blueprints for the film, where every shot is planned in advance by the director and the DOP (direction of
photography) The set model models will often be made of sets to ensure that everyone knows what the finished product should look like. They also enable the Director and the camera team to visualize their shots more clearly and will assist the storyboarding process. The Production Designer the Production Designer works with the Set Designer and the Construction Team to create artificial sets that suit the needs of the production, based on the storyboards and set models. The Construction Manager oversees the building of sets, and must tread the fine line between making it look real and keeping it cost-efficient. They manage the team of set builders, riggers and so on, which on high-budget productions can be over 100 people. The Art Director the Art Director and the Art Department take the designs from the Production Designer and create every detail of the look of the film. They decorate the sets built by the Construction Department, and are also responsible for the objects that will be seen in the frame, such as set decorations an d props. In some cases they will make these objects themselves, but often they are sourced and specially bought for the production and customised if necessary. The Location Manager not all sets on films are purpose-built, and some of the production process will take place on location. The Location Manager and their assistants will scout for locations that fit the design of the production and work with the Producer, Director and Production Designer to decide which ones to use. They deal with authorities and property owners to get all the necessary permits and secure the location. From paying landlords, to dealing with the public, to keeping the locations clean during the short, they have a huge and varied job, and usually have a lot of assistance on big productions. The Construction Manager the Construction Manager oversees the building of the film sets, based on the models, storyboards and the Set Designers schematics. They must tread the fine line between making the sets look real on screen, and keeping their construction cost-efficient. They manage the Construction Team of set builders, riggers and other specialists, which on high-budget productions can be over 100 people. The Special Effects a large number of shots in films are achieved using special effects, both physical and digital. Each effects shot is modelled to ensure that it will look realistic, and it is decided which elements of the shot will be achieved digitally and which with live action. The physical effects are then designed far in advance of the shoot to give the special effects teams time to prepare each one. Effects shots are planned in much more detail than normal shots to make absolutely certain that enough good quality footage will be obtained from each one. If anything is missed at this stage, there may not be enough budget to correct mistakes and the whole shot could be wasted. Special Physical Effects models, animatronics, pyrotechnics and other traditional techniques are used to obtain live footage which can be carefully edited, composited and digitally enhanced in post production. The Special Effects Supervisor and their team of technicians build everything required for the shoot, from hydraulics to miniatures, including all the small effects like handheld gadgets and moving set elements. The most elaborate special effects can take teams of technicians many months to prepare, partly to get rid of the effect on camera, but also to ensure the effect is achieved safely. The Visual Effects Supervisor the Visual Effects Supervisor is responsible to the Director for planning and designing all the special effects needed in the film. They have to discuss with the Director and the Production Designer what effects are needed and decides how these can be best achieved, whether through physical effects or digitally in post production. They must have a good understanding if every technique available if he is to create something that works on screen within the budget he is given. They will monitor every effects shot during the production to make sure he is getting the footage he needs for the post production phase. The Production Accountant the Production Accountant is responsible for managing the film s finances. Film productions are usually regist ered as separate trading companies so that the complex financial structures and liabilities can be
The production designer plans every aspect of how the film will look, and hires people to design and build each part
Special Effects Planning
Effects shots are planned in much more detail than normal shots, and can take months to design and build
The Production Unit
The first assistant director, the line producer and the production manager make up the key logistic triangle of the production
managed more easily. All funding is paid into one central account, and all production staff are employed by this company for the duration of the shoot. The Production Accountant is responsible for the financial management of this production company, and produces regular reports to the Producer, Line Producer, financiers and completion bond insurers. The Production Manager the Production Manager is the Producer s executive officer. They deal with day-to-day money issues and are responsible for balancing and supervising all the administrative and technical details of the production, budgeting and scheduling, and managing the activities of the entire crew. The Line Producer the Line Producer deals with the Producer and the financiers. During pre-production they must: work out and write the schedule arrange contract for equipment hire and personnel insurance There are various types of insurance but at least some will be required, depending on the country of filming: employers liability insurance/negative insurance (protects against additional costs due to damage or loss of stock)/props and sets insurance (protects locations and hired props)/hired equipment insurance. st st The 1 Assistant Director the 1 AD deals with the crew and makes sure that they are on schedule, and to assist them in that they will hire the rest of the st aff that are needed during nd rd production. This will include 2 and 3 Ads and Runners. Together they will: work out and write the shot plans for each day (with the Director) determine the equipment required (with the DoP and other HODs).
7) The Shoot
A large film production can involve hundreds of people, and it is a constant struggle to keep it on schedule and budget 1st Day of Principle Photography
This is the key moment in film production, shooting begins, funding is released, and the producer is very satisfied The Production Office is the main contract for the production as a whole. Led by the Production Manager, the office is responsible for all the requirements of the shoot, fielding calls, taking deliveries, hiring equipment, distributing paperwork, paying wages and so on. Any problems with the production that cannot be resolved on set will be dealt with here. The Gaffer the Gaffer sets up lighting to get the proper effect for the scene. They must make sure that there is sufficient power available to light the scene as the DoP wishes. The Insurers the completion bond insurance monitor the progress of the production at all times checking it is on schedule and that all liabilities are covered. They receive daily progress reports but will also make periodic visits to locations and the set to protect their interests. If they are concerned, they may stay on set and demand meetings with production staff to resolve issues, and in extreme circumstances can even take over the running of the production. The Producer the Producer will usually be around on the first day of the shoot, to check that everything runs smoothly, although the production team will have everything under control. The Producer will oversee the production throughout the shoot, resolve major problems, and keep the Insurers and Investors happy until the shoot is complete. The Camera Team the DoP and Camera Team are responsible for getting the pictures in the can. They will usually watch a couple of rehearsals of the action to set marks and prepare focus movements then they will let the Director know
that they are ready for a take. The Construction Team constructing the sets is a long and arduous process, and can involve huge teams of people working for months before the shoot actually begins. Once production begins, there will still be construction workers on hand to fix minor problems and check the safety of the sets they have built. The Production Designer the Production Designer will often be present at the shoot to ensure that their vision of how the set/location will look is realised properly. They will liaise with the DoP and Director to make sure their work is shown in the best possible light. The Stars the film s stars prepare for a scene involving a shooting. The hair, make-up and costume departments have final checks to make sure that nothing is out of place and all is well ready for shooting. The Property Manager (often called the Props Master) checks that the antique table being used in the shoot is not getting damaged. Otherwise he ll have to pay a big deposit to the hire company. Although some props will be made especially for the film, the majority are sourced and bought for the production team by a specialist production buyer. The Sound Team the Sound Team are responsible for recording high quality sound during the shoot. It they fail, it can mean additional expenses for ADR dialogue replacement in post-production. The Unit Stills Photographer although film cameras produce very high quality moving images, when they are frozen to make a still, they are not as clear as photos from a stills camera. If the film is going to be well -marketed later, the unit publicist needs high quality still photos for use in newspapers, magazines, posters and DVD covers. Failure to organize such a simple thing now might cost the film millions in lost publicity later. The Unit Stills Photographer has to tip -toe around the rest of the Camera Department, trying to get good skills while not getting in the way of takes. Electronic Press Kit (EPK) some larger productions will also hire an EPK crew to film the production process. This footage can then be sent to TV journalists to gain publicity for the film, and also forms the basis for the making of documentaries that appear on TV and as DVD extras. st The Director / 1 AD the Director is the eye of the audience, deciding which pictures will best communicate the story. Directors work closely with all the other department heads to provide a unified vision of how the finished project is going to look, and most importantly, they must ensure that he gets top performances out of the actors. Directors have a lot of creative power over the production. A bad Director can ruin a great script, and a great Director can save a bad one. They also determine the mood of the set. Uncomfortable sets with disgruntled crew can produce a bad product. The Director also works with the Actors, fine-tuning their performances so that they fit with the unified vision of the film. Every director has their own approach to the shoot, and although there are standard practices, every film production is different. Some directors will shoot each scene chronologically, but most will shoot out of sequence to save time and money. Often, there will be the last minute decisions taken to compress or move the schedule due to unforeseen circumstances. A lot of these decisions are dependent on the Financiers and Completion Bond, who must put their trust in the Director to get them the product they want for the budget available. nd nd The 2 AD - the 2 AD warns the other Star that they are required in on hour on set. rd rd The 3 AD the 3 AD is briefing with the extras to prepare them for a crowd scene that s coming up. Crowd management is a vital skill on a film set: if people wander off they could delay the production or even injure themselves and others. The Caterers since the early days of Hollywood, film productions have employed caterers to feed their cast and crew. The reason for this is that people on set work incredibly hard, sometimes for 12-15 hours without a break. This is because time is money on set, and with so many people involved it is vital to keep them all in the right place to eliminate delays. By feeding the cast and crew, the caterers ensure that everyone stays on set and no-one goes wandering off, which could delay shooting and cost the production thousands of pounds. Health and Safety film sets can be dangerous places. Productions must take responsibility for the welfare of their cast and crew at all times, and Health and
Safety Supervisors have the task of making sure they are doing so. The production will hire health and safety specialists, either part -time or full-time, to oversee health and safety on set and on location. Studios often employ their own health and safety people to protect their interests by making sure the productions that use their facilities do so legally. Health and Safety Supervisors check all aspects of the production, including inspecting all the sets, hiring scaffolding, inspectors to run weekly checks during construction, and even surveying buildings on location. They advise on the safest ways of doing things to avoid the possibility of accidents, and also look after the safety of the general public. In the event of an accident, or of someone on set becoming unwell, a Unit Nurse is on standby to take appropriate action. In large productions, the scale of the first aid operation may be quite extensive to support the hundreds of people employed on and off the set. The Director of Photography the Director of Photography (DoP) is the head of the Camera Department, and is ultimately responsible for how the film is shot. The Camera Department works from the shooting script and from the storyboards to decide on the best camera position, movement and lens for each shot. They work very closely with the Director to ensure that each sequence communicates to an audience exactly what the Director intends. The Camera Operator the Camera Operator operates the camera (although the DoP may also operate). They are responsible for catching all the action and for making sure that it is usable. At the end of each day, the film is processed and dailies are returned to keep the tabs on visual quality during production. The Focus Puller the Camera Operator works with a Focus Puller. They are purely responsible for keeping the key element in the frame in focus and for shifting between elements in the frame. The Focus Puller has one of the most responsible jobs on the entire set: if the camera is out of focus, the shot is unusable and everyone else work is wasted. The Clapper Loader the Loader takes unexposed films from its canister and loads it into magazines. These then slot onto the camera. It is a stressful job for the steady-handed. Any slight glimmer of light that hits the film at the wrong time can ruin a reel and that can cost hours of filming. An hour of filming with a full crew and cast can be very expensive. Often the Loader will also write and operate the clapperboard, which gives the Editor information about which shot is which. Camera Assistants - Larger productions, especially big-budget Hollywood films, may have specialist Camera Assistants who are responsible for managing, assembling and maintaining the cameras. Film cameras are complex and sometimes temperamental things. Camera assistants constantly clean lenses, check batteries and generally allow the DoP and the Operator to concentrate on filming rather than worrying about the mechanics. On smaller productions, this will be done by the Clapper Loader. The Gaffer the Gaffer is usually a trained electrician responsible for lighting the action under instructions from the DoP and the Director. Film lights are very power-hungry and only the small ones are operable from normal mains electric circuits. The Gaffer must not only arrange to get light where it is wanted, but must also manage the huge potential risks of having highly-rated electricity cables on set possibly in the rain. The Best Boy the Best Boy is the chief assistant to the Gaffer. The Make-Up Designer the Make-Up Designer and their department are responsible for the make-up and hair styling required to give the actors the necessary look on film. They are also responsible for prosthetics (any effects that are supposed to look like part of the character such as fake limbs/fake noses/wigs etc). The Boom Operator the Boom Operator is responsible for holding the microphone as close as possible to the sound without getting it in shot. The Armourer Armourers are licensed to carry and operate weapons for use in films. This is a specialist and highly trained job, and they must make sure not only that no-one gets hurt by the firearms being used, but also that none of the valuable camera and other equipment is damaged. It is illegal to have a working gun on a film set without an armourer present, and the very best charge a premium services due to the huge responsibilities they bear.
The camera department is responsible for getting all the footage that the director and editor need to tell the story
Lighting and Sound
Once the lighting and sound are set up and hair and make-up have been checked, the shot can begin
In the midst of all this commotion, the actors must create an emotional world and draw the audience into it
The Actors, as the only members of the film personnel that will be seen by the public, have a lot of responsibility to make the film a success. Actors need to create a plausible world and pretend that they are not surrounded by hordes of crew. Some Directors insist that consist that actors should have a considerable rehearsal period before shooting. Others expect the actor to turn up and perform cold. Either way, they need to be given time and kept away from any stresses that arise in other departments so that it doesn t affect their performance. The Visual Effects Supervisor they have to ensure that the shot foes according to the pre-production plans. It is important to make sure the shot goes according to plan, as they only have one shot to take. Special Effects Supervisor every special effect on set is the responsibility of the Special Effects Supervisor and their team. This involves anything which has moving parts onset. It is the responsibility of the Special Effects Team to ensure that all these elements work when they are supposed to, as they are supposed to, and with minimum risk of injury to cast and crew. The Stunt People stunt people are paid to take risks. They will get as close as they can to explosions without getting seriously hurt to add authenticity to the shot. Stunt doubles are used extensively in high-budget films for any situation where injury is a possibility . The reason for this is that if actors, particularly the stars, are injured, the production could be delayed while they recover at a cost of thousands of pounds. Often the insurers of the production will insist that no risks are taken with the welfare of the main actors, and will even stipulate what they can and can t do, on and off set. Stunt people are not subject to the same restrictions. Health and Safety whenever special effects are involved, health and safety is an obvious consideration. For health and safety reasons, any moving or interactive element on a set is classed as a physical effect. The Visual Effects Supervisor and Health and Safety experts will check the operation of all such elements to guarantee the safety of cast and crew. Failure to do so, could lead to the production being shut down. Runners Runners jobs range from making tea, to delivering cans of film from the set to the lab to be processed. They are responsible for doing what they are asked to do quickly without any question. They don t simply do whatever anyone on set asks them to do: in fact, they can get into a lot of trouble if they are away from their post. Most runners have specific tasks or areas of responsibility. The Assistant Directors the Assistant Directors support the Director by ensuring that everything is running smoothly on set. Essentially they all help the Dir ector communicate with the cast and crew to accomplish everything that needs to be st nd rd done on schedule. Often there are four Ads: the 1 , 2 , 3 and an AD-in-training. On large US productions there may also be a Crowd Controller to assist with larger scenes. Communication is a key part of their roles and is critical to the success of their team, and ultimately the shoot. Good ADs are valuable people in the film business, and they very best are in great demand. The Line Producer the Line Producer is basically the representative of the Producer on set. The Producer may not be on set much as they need to support the Director by keeping the financial side of the film healthy, and by solving the emergencies that always arise during a shoot. The Line Producer will deal with every problem they can and keep the Producer informed about the state and progress of the production.
Special Physical Effects
Every special effect is carefully constructed and must be filmed with minimum risk of injury to cast and crew
Chain of Command
Film productions are run with military precision, if they fall behind schedule, the financiers and investors may step in
8) Post Production
Post production usually starts before the shoot, as soon as the first rushes (raw footage and sound) areavailable
The Editor editors are extremely important in the filmmaking process. They effectively remake the film in the edit suite. The Assistant Editor the Assistant Editor compiles the sequences of the film into an assembly so that the Director and Editor can see if the scene is working, then they work on a rough cut . Sound recorded on the set and other temporary sounds, such as music and effects are added (temp sound) to give the Editor and Director a general idea of how the film will end up looking and sounding. This process usually takes a number of weeks and can involve input from the Financiers and, of course, from the Producer. The Producer will work with any attached Distribution and Sales companies at rough cut stage to turn the film into a product that will sell. When everyone is happy that they have a marketable product, the Editor stops altering the assembly of the sequences and they have a fine cut which is also called a picture lock . The process of marketing the film can then begin in earnest while post production continues. The Rushes post production often starts during the shoot, as film is processed daily and the Editor assembles the scenes while the Director is shooting. The rushes from a film are taken to the lab where they are processed and turned into a roll of negative. Lab costs for processing, at this point and throughout post production, can be extremely high. The Negatives the negatives are usually transferred onto video tapes in a process known as telecine. There are digitised into a non-linear computer edit suite as digital video files. The Foley Artist Foley recording is the recording of custom sound effects during post production in the same way that dialogue is dubbed. The term comes from the name of its inventor. Foley artists are famed for using unusual objects to create the sounds they need. The Sound Editor once all the necessary sound tracks are recorded, the final sound mix can be created. A Sound Editor arranges all the tracks as accurately as possible to the locked picture. Rough sound levels are also set at this stage. Automated Dialogue Recording (ADR) the dialogue recorded during the shoot may be below the required quality. In these cases, dialogue is re-recorded over the scenes by the original actors in a dubbing studio. This process is done in addition to or as a substitution for Location Sound. The term ADR was originally used to cover up the fact that dubbing had been used in the film s credits. Music the Composer works with the Director to write instrumental music (and occasionally songs) for the film. They are responsible for realising the Director s musical visions and working closely with the Director to ensure that the music that is written and recorded satisfies the Directo r s needs for the film. In many cases, existing songs may be used in a film. In these cases, the film s Producer or Music Supervisor may handle relations with the songwriter s publisher, recorder company or the songwriter. The Music Supervisor works with the Director to choose, and negotiating risks to use existing music in films, working with record companies, composers and other parties who are involved in the music for a film, and managing the overall musical budget and production for a project. A songwriter may have already worked with the Director or Music Supervisor to write songs (the songwriter may or may not employ another individual to write the lyrics) to be used in a film. Original music can be a useful marketing tool when the film is released, since a hit single from the soundtrack can provide valuable publicity for the film itself. Supervising Post Production the Producer keeps a close eye on the post production process to ensure they are getting a product that they can sell to audiences and film buyers. During post, they negotiate with potential distributors to buy the rights to the product, so that as soon as the film is finished, they will be ready to promote and release it. These potential buyers will have their own
As the processed footage comes in, the editor assembles it into scenes and creates a narrative sequence for the film
Post production sound
Once the picture is locked, the sound department works on the audio track laying, creating and editing every sound
Digital effects and titles
Digital effects are added by specialist effects compositors, and titles and credits are added in a compositing suite
opinions about how the film should look and the story it should tell, and there is still a great deal of negotiation to be done. So, while the Director is concentrating on bringing their creative vision to the screen, the Producer may have other ideas. The Credits when the picture edit is nearing completion, the films credits will be added by a digital compositor. There are two kinds of credits: front titles and rear titles . The font title credits are the most prestigious and are reserved for key above the line talent and influential financiers. They are often found at the end of the film, but will be in a different format, normally one name on screen at a time. A front title credit is often stipulated in the contracts of key cast and crew. Those not fortunate to have front title credits are included in the rear titles, which cover every credited member of the development, production and post production teams. Digital Effects digital effects are the fastest growing sector of the UK film industry, and most films today contain a number of digital effects. These can be pure CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) or compositing: inserting computer generated images into live action footage and layering of multiple photographic and/or CGI elements together. Specialists in this area charge a lot for their services, but their work can transform a film. In the majority of cases budget limitations prevent this kind of tinkering and digital e ffects are used only for key scenes like set-piece action sequences. The Telecine Operator (often known as the Colourist) is the person that makes all the shot look as though they belong visually to the same film. The DoP will often work with the Colourist to ensure that look of the film is what was intended by the Director. In a grade, a Colourist tweaks the colours and contrast to make the film look smooth and uniform (or to add mood). Picture lock will usually happen before the grade starts and once the financiers are happy with the fine cut. It always happens before the final mix. The Final Mix the output of the mixing process is called the final mix , which means all the various tracks of sound in the film have been mixed at their appropriate levels and synchronised with the sound. In practice though, the final mix is a whole array of different final mixes, including the 5:1 surround sound mix for theatrical release and DVD, international formats, alternative versio ns, and stereo mixes for the broadcast master. Also a mix is done which removes the dialogue and retains only the music and effects. This is called the M&E (music and effects) mix will go to different territories to have different dialogue language dubbed onto it. The Dolby 5.1 Mix to allow the film to be shown in multiplex cinemas and on DVD, the final mix is usually separated and mixed into six channels for a Dolby 5.1 mix (or eight channels for 7.1). This allows the Sound or Dubbing Mixer to take advantage of surround sound and to place certain sounds in the theatre. The Sound Mixer film is an audio visual medium and is not just about moving pictures: sound is vital to the overall quality of the finished film. Poor sound design can destroy the impact of even the best visual sequences, whilst atmospheric and engaging sound can overcome the limitations of low-quality visuals. Once picture lock is established, the Sound (or Dubbing) Mixer puts the final touches to the film s soundtrack to make sure the film is engaging and professional as possible. The Broadcast Mix this has just two channels (as most TV s just have 2 speakers). Also, the levels of the mix will be set to comply with broadcast standards (and to make sure that the film is quieter than the adverts). The Final Cut once final cut is agreed, the film is ready for duplication. The sound mix is synchronised with the picture and attached to the edge of the negative ( synch and edge ). This creates a master print from which all duplicates are made. The number of prints required at this stage will depend on the release strategy and the number of territories the film is to be released in. This is up to the Producer to negotiate with the Distributors, and while all this has been going they have been at hard work selling the film. In some cases, cuts and alterations to films such as edits made for TV or in -flight entertainment can sacrifice a filmmakers original intent. This is bad news for all
Grade and colour
The final stage of the picture edit is to adjust the colour and establish the fine aesthetic of the film
After picture lock, the rough sound mix goes to a dubbing theatre where the sound mixer sets the final levels
After the final cut the film reaches full lock . It is now finished and ready for duplication but who gets the final cut?
those who see filmmaking as primarily a creative industry. However, filmmaking i s a big, expensive business, and this means compromise is a necessity. Without the revenues generated by these commercial channels, film budgets would be smaller, bringing other constraints to bear on future filmmakers. The Producer the Producer has a lot of negotiating to do to secure the final cut of the film. although some directors and other key people may have control of the final cut in their contracts, in the vast majority of cases it is the Investors and any attached Distribution and Sales companies who decide whether they have a final cut or not. For them, and for the Producer, having final cut is a necessity to ensure that the film they have paid for is commercially viable. If the product isn t right, they won t see a return on their investment. The Director the vast majority of directors do not have final cut on their films. However, the investors counter that it is a business necessity. Films labelled with Director s Cut give the directors an opportunity to show their full work. It also enables them to make more money for the investors in the process.
While the film is still in post, the producer is out selling it. But they cant sell it directly to the public themselves; they need a distributor
The Rights Contract if a Film Sales company has already financed the film s development or production, they get first refusal on the rights to sell it to distributors. Because they put the money up front, they get a better deal than companies coming in at this stage, which means if the film is a hit they could make millions in added profits. If they turn down these rights (because they think they film wont sell), the Producer has a huge amount of work to do to get a Sales Agent on board. The same situation applies for Distribution companies who funded the production. If they turn down the distribution rights, of if they only hold the rig hts in a few countries worldwide, the Producer faces months of research and hard work to get another distribution deal. This is where their initial assessments of the film s market, and the recoupment schedule, come into play again. The Producer the Producer now has a product that can be sold. But the process of getting this product to the general public is complex and time-consuming and requires a lot of specialist knowledge. This isn t something the Producer can do alone: they need help from Film Distributors. Distributors are film marketing companies who specialise in releasing films and marketing them to the public. If the film is ever to be seen, the Producer must now secure contracts with the Distributors for as many territories as they can, and nego tiate as good a deal as they can in each. At this point, the most important audience for the film is the film industry itself. The Sales Agent the Sales Agent is a key person in the commercial success of any film. Sales Agents operate between the Producer and the Distributor, helping them to assess products, estimating their value and negotiating distribution deals. The Sales Agent must know the market inside out. They must also know the buyers and the types of deal he can structure. Persuading a sales agent to sell the film is the Producer s first task, and with an agent on board the sales process becomes a lot easier. Cutting a successful trailer is an art in itself. It must sell the key elements of the film to the right audiences as defined at the packaging stage without giving too much away. This trailer must showcase the value of the film to an industry
Selling the Product
To help her sell the film to distributors, the producer secures the services of a sales agent, a specialist in film sales
To help sell the film, a trailer is made to show
busy film buyers the most marketable aspects of the film
audience, but in practice it may also be used as the cinematic trailer. It should show the selling points of the film and what s unique in the film. It should also leave a viewer in no doubt about what the film will be like. At this stage, the Producer may commission the trailer to help sell the film, which is often called a promo. As soon as a Distribution company is attached, they will commission their own trailers and TV spots as part of their overall marketing strategy, but this promo trailer will often form the basis. The Sales Pack the sales pack contains the key information and marketing materials needed to sell the film to Distributors. It holds information about the cast and crew, a synopsis of the finished film and information about likely target audiences. It is similar to the package used to attract finance the production, but contains additional materials that are specifically relevant to the film s distribution and marketing. It will include a one -sheet which contains the key information about the film and a still on one sheet of paper. The film will be competing with many others for distribution, so the more tools a Producer can give the Sales Agent, the more chance it has of being sold. The Trailer the completed trailer is a key part of the sales pack. A version is printed on film for exhibition in screening rooms to groups of buyers. It is a lso duplicated onto DVDs for the Producer to give out to buyers and other interested or influential people. A number of DVD copies of the film are also made from the master print to help the sales process. The Producer can use them to show interested buyers more of the film if they liked the trailer. The Sales Report the Sales Agent will produce a number of reports to estimate how the film will perform in the box office. These are effectively detailed sales estimates which involve taking the Producer s recoupment schedule and doing more detailed projections. The Competition it is vital to have a distinguishable product because the marketplace is very crowded. As the distance between the theatrical and DVD release shrinks it is becoming increasingly difficult to sell films to cinemagoers and Distributors know this. To overcome this problem and show the Distributor that her film will sell, the Producer must try to generate buzz around it: if she can get people in the industry talking about her film, she will jump to the head of the queue. There are various things that the Producers and Sales Agents try to put their film ahead of the competition. Critical acclaim is important at this stage, as this is seen as a good indicator that the film is high quality. Audience enthusiasm is also good, as it provides evidence that people will go and see the film if it is released. Hot Property by getting people in the industry talking about the film, the Producer has turned it into a hot property. The Stars distributors are always looking for what s marketable about a film, and stars are the most marketable part of any film package. Star names virtually guarantee awareness of a film with the public, which makes marketing it much easier. This is why stars are always contracted from the outset to do promotional work and why they are paid so much for their services. The Distribution Deal The Producer negotiates a contract with a Distributor for the rights to distribute the film across certain territories. Territories mostly means c ountries, but in some cases a territory is one or more countries with a similar language and culture. The distributors will acquire full rights to market and sell the film in those countries, including negotiating deals with cinemas. Once the film has been sold to distributors, the film is no longer the responsibility of the Producer in those territories. Now the marketing process begins in earnest.
The producer and the sales agent collect everything they will need to sell the film to distributors
Taking the film to market
The market is saturated with films, so the producer must go to great lengths to attract attention for their product
The market is saturated with films, so the producer must go to great lengths to attract attention for their product
The producer now has a hot product , and can negotiate good deals with distributors around the world
As the finishing touches are being made to the film post, the distributors plan their strategy and begin to market it
The Marketing Team the Distribution Company has a team of marketing specialists who will market the film to the public. They must identify the best audience for the film, and find the hook the unique selling point that will make it stand out in a crowded marketplace. They work out the value of this audience at the box office, draw up projections of how it will perform, and set an appropriate marketing budget for launching it. They key to marketing is to know the audience and give them what they want. Since the film has already been made, changing the product is out of the question, so Distributors are choosy about the films they acquire. Some films will just gain audiences without the distributor doing anything exceptional. But it is the Marketing Team s responsibility to make sure that the film performs as well as it possibly can. If there is an audience out there for that film, they must find them, and persuade them to go and see it. If marketed correctly, good films can even become the most sough-after thing: a must-see film. Marketing Method films are products like any others, and make their way down a supply chain. At this stage, advertising companies and PR agencies will get involved. These companies are experts in using the various marketing channels available to them to sell the film. Marketing channels are divided into two types: above-the-line and below-theline . Above-the-line marketing includes trailers, TV spots and poster campaigns, including materials distributed via cinemas. It is the most direct way to reach an audience. Below-the-line marketing is more subtle, involving indirect forms of publicity such as press coverage, product tie-ins and merchandising. This publicity is especially valuable to films, since they build word -of-mouth more effectively than straightforward advertising. Product licensing for toys and games is especially popular, since it not only provides publicity for the film, but also another lucrative source of revenue. Whatever techniques are employed to sell the film, the Distributor will oversee the whole process and will commission and produce all the publicity and advertising for the film, including all the materials used by the cinemas. They plan an integrated strategy, bringing all their resources, contacts and skills to bear on the launching the film with the maximum possible impact. The PR Agency film marketing is big business, and in recent years has involved more and more sophisticated techniques. There are several established film market research companies in the UK and US, who specialise in researching which types of people respond best to a film, and why. The data they gather can be used by the Marketing Team to determine what the hooks for the products are, and who they should be aiming it at. By carefully segmenting the potential audience for the film, the Marketing Team can be much more targeting in their approach, and ensure that the right people hear about the film at the right time. Word-of-mouth marketing firms often invite key audience groups to free screenings to start generate heat. The individuals give feedback of these films and profiles are constructed, so they can identify the types of people who respond best to the film. then, by ensuring that only those types of people see the film before its release, they can minimise negative word-of-mouth and create evangelists for the film, increasing popular anticipation for it. Audience response film marketing is all about word-of-mouth. The cinema release of a film is effectively a launch event, and the Marketing Team will try to
The Marketing Team
To help sell the film to distributors, the producer secures the services of a sales agent, a specialist in film sales
Knowing the audience is essential, and the marketing team runs test screenings to see how the film is received
create heat around the film to make sure that it is hugely anticipated before its release and that it will continue to sell after it. Creating positive word -of-mouth is all about getting the right people talking about the film at the right time. Building a campaign is usually a race against the clock to make the audience aware of the film, make them want to see it, and make them tell their friends to see it too. If the Marketing Team can t find this audience and get them talking about the film before the launch, it will disappear without trace. Conversely, if word-of-mouth is generated too early it can dissipate before the film opens. Above-the-line Marketing film campaigns benefit from having very high marketing budgets (and profit margins) compared to other products. However, the competition is so fierce that poor advertising is not only ineffective but can even be damaging. Weak or mixed messages will confuse audiences, who will tend to ignore it and filter out further marketing about it. Poorly-targeted advertising can make the wrong people aware of the film, and will generate negative word-of-mouth which could destroy the film s reputation before it is even released. Market research is done with the potential audience on all posters and other marketing collateral to make sure that money spent on advertising is not wasted. Film Journalism The public appetite for films is vast, and a whole section of the media has been built on popularity of cinema. A good critical reception, popular interest, appearances by stars on chat shows and at premieres, or even just a big distribution budget can get the film nationwide press and broadcast coverage. Production unit stills, EPK footage and other publicity assets can all be used to generate media interest in the film, so it is vital that the Producer can set aside money in the original budget for the collection of these assets. Media coverage is not just about getting free advertising: it s about getting the product endorsed by a third party. Positive media attention is the best way to generate good word-of-mouth about any film. For example, certain UK and international journalists have been identified by the industry as particularly influential in shaping the popular opinion about a forthcoming release, and are therefore given privileged information. At the other end of the spectrum, some PR companies organise press days for student newspapers, with the aim of generating positive word-of-mouth amongst those very targeted groups. Film publicists use the media to generate word-of-mouth. They try to reduce negative publicity and ensure that the messages in the media fit in with the overall campaign for the film s launch. Distributors will usually engage a separate film publicity company to handle this work for them, as it requires extreme ly specialist skills. These companies build up close relationships with the media and know exactly how to generate the right coverage for their products. Internet Marketing In the information age, the consumer, the consumer is bombarded with information, opinion and advertising on a constant basis, and it becomes harder and harder for a film to get noticed. Fortunately, digital technologies have also presented many new opportunities for film distributors to market their product in more targeted and cost-efficient ways. By advertising through specialist digital television channels and the internet, distributors can only target only those people who are most relevant to their marketing objectives, rather than wasting money on nationwide advertising that will be ignored by most of the people who see it. This is particularly relevant for low-budget filmmakers, who for the first time are in a position to market their films to audiences with only minimum spend on marketing costs. As the costs of digital film production fall, and digital exhibition becomes more widespread, the time of profitable low budget filmmaking is becoming a distinct possibility. Package Selling the relationship between distributors and exhibitors is a big business. Exhibitors are always looking for films that will bring in large numbers, and many are dependant on the large blockbusters to bring in revenues. This puts
The potential audience for the film is targeted with posters, cinema trailers, TV spots and other marketing materials
Press and Media Coverage
Television, radio, newspapers and magazines can all help create positive word-ofmouth/press about a film
The Internet and new Marketing Models
The birth of digital media and the internet has flooded the world with information but also made niche marketing possible
Selling the film to Exhibitors
In order to get the film to audiences, the distributor must negotiate a deal with the cinemas to screen it
the larger distributors in a more powerful position. To get as many of their films shown as possible, the larger distributors often offer a package to exhibitors. Because of this, the smaller UK distribution companies start at a disadvantage and may find it hard to get their films onto as many screens. This is where critical acclaim, press attention and audience popularity can be so vital in getting a film shown. The Cinema Programmer cinemas employ specialist staff who watch all the films available and plan their exhibition schedule. These people are called Programmers, and they are the key decision-makers in the exhibition world. The Programmer selects the right mix of programming for the venue, responding to local audience interests. They choose which films they want to show based on what they think their audience will want to see. If the Programmer feels a film is right for their market, the Exhibitor and the Distributor strike a deal to determine how many screens the film will open on and how much the distributors will get paid. The Marketing Budget the marketing budget is determined by the expected level of ticket receipts from a film: the higher the expectation of success, the higher the marketing budget. For the exhibitor, this works the other way around too: if a film is due to open on hundreds of screens around the country (and world), the cinemas will expect a vast marketing budget to be associated with it to guarantee that these cinemas are filled. If the distributor is investing a lot in marketing the film, this will make it more valuable for the exhibitors. This is particularly true for the largest multiplexes, which must fill hundreds of screens every week.
Cinema exhibition is still the primary channel for films to reach their audiences, and box office success equals financial success
The Stars Fame really helps to sell films. Stars have royal fan bases following their careers religiously, regardless of marketing. The top stars can guarantee that a film will do business, but even lesser-known stars will attract publicity and generate hype. The biggest stars are those who can open a film guarantee that it will do well in its opening weekend of which there are only six or seven in the world. However, they can t say anything after the opening weekend, since word-of-mouth will destroy it within only a few days of release. Star power can extend beyond actors as well, and big-name directors, writers and producers can all bring an audience to a film. Writer-directors are the most common type of behind-the-camera stars, and they are hugely respected within the film industry and the public. There are even production companies like Working Title and Pixar that are well-known brands and retain great popularity with the fans for the types of film they are associated with making. The Audience although the British public tend not to visit the cinema as often as the American public, cinemas remain the most important market for any film, as success at the box office can guarantee increased revenues in subsequent windows (DVD sales and rentals, hospitality, broadcast, product licensing). Major films with a mass appeal are played by large, county-wide exhibitors, whilst smaller films can benefit from the network of local and specialist cinemas across the UK. The presence of these cinemas can ensure that even films with a very niche market can reach their audience and make a profit. For example, foreign
A high-profile, starstudded premiere is used to launch the film to the public with an explosion of media coverage
The UK has more than 3,500 cinema screens, although not all are British owned, or show British films
language films usually open in fewer screens than those in English. However Hindi movies actually account for more than a third of all films released in the UK. The Projectionists behind the scenes, exhibitors employ teams of skilled projectionists and technical staff that are trained to show the film exactly as it was intended to be seen. They make sure the film reaches the audience in exactly the form the Director, the Colourist, the Sound Mixer and so on designed it. Distributing the prints Hundreds of copies of the film are produced by the distributors, and these prints are then rented by the exhibitors who are screening the film. Specialist logistics companies transport these 35mm film prints to cinemas throughout the UK. This is a niche area of logistics and is dominated by a few companies, most of whom have specialised in this area of work for many years. Many logistics companies such as DHL will have a specialist film transport department, such is the scale of this operation. Making so many prints requires substantial investment from the distributors, and they will often try to reduce their costs by making a smaller number of prints and releasing the film in waves. If the film is released on diff erent dates in different territories, a small number of prints can be used in each territory, and then shipped onto the next territory and so on. This is the main reason why many films are released in the UK and Europe some months after their US release: t o save the distributors money on reproduction costs. In recent years, the digital revolution has been transforming distribution in two key ways. Firstly, growth in piracy has led distributors increasingly towards dayand-date releases, in which the film is released in all territories simultaneously. This requires a great deal of investment and is usually reserved for big blockbusters, but the trend is becoming more common. Secondly, the development of digital data storage and transmission via the internet has made digital film distribution a serious possibility for the future. The UK Film Council is now encouraging and funding many UK cinemas to invest in digital projectors, through its Digital Screen Network programme. It is estimated that 50% of the UK and US cinemas will be capable of digital projection by 2010, meaning that distributors of low budget features will be able to distribute their films digitally at a greatly reduced cost. In the future, the notion of distributors transmitting electronic prints of their films directly to cinemas around the world is only a few years away.
Prints and Logistics
Distributors supply the exhibitors with prints of the film. The more screens the film is shown on the more prints are needed
Box Office Performance
Distributors supply the exhibitors with prints of the film. The more screens the film is shown on the more prints are needed
Data about film attendance is collected continuously, and used by the cinemas to decide which films to cancel and which to prolong. If a film is underperforming, cinemas simply cannot afford to risk losing valuable income waiting for a film to become popular. Slow-burners do not flourish well in the cinema market. In fact, some films that flopped in the cinemas can find their audience on DVD and make a healthy profit some years after their initial release.
The exhibitors take their share of the box office receipts, after which the distributors recoup their marketing costs
The box office gross is just the starting measure for what everyone involved will make from the film. Producers can check these reports to figure out how roughly how much they will make, but in reality most of this money will go back to the Exhibitors who screen the film, and the Distributor to pay for the marketing costs.
Once the distributors have been paid, the financiers can recover their investments, as laid out in the recoupment schedule
In theory, films that do well at the box office will make a profit. In reality though, even if the film is a hit the costs of marketing and exhibiting it mean that the Producer is unlikely to see profits once the Exhibitor and Distributor have been paid. Instead, the profits for the film will come from the other distribution windows such as DVD sales and broadcast. The Distributors will use the theatrical release of the film as a launch-pad from which to sell the film across these alternative formats and without the large overheads of exhibition, the profit margins for these windows is far greater. This progression through the different formats currently takes years, although growing concerns about piracy are forcing all these windows closer and closer
together. As the profits begin to appear, they will be channelled back to the production accounts department, who begin the long process of repaying the film s financiers. This process is complex and must be done in the strict order of priority laid down in the recoupment schedule during the film s financing. The length of time it takes to sell the film in all the available windows means that it may be several years before all the investors receive their money and even longer before the Producer can get paid.
12) Other Windows
A successful run in cinemas makes the film a sought-after product, which can then be sold through other more lucrative channels
The In-flight Movie in-flight entertainment and hotel pay-per-view channels are the first way in which films are sold after their cinema release. Usually films will screen in these windows whilst they are still showing in cinemas. This can be a very lucrative window and is highly sought-after by distribution companies, and only the most successful films will be sold here. Larger distributors in possession of biggest blockbusters are in position to negotiate better deals and to sell them in packages with less popular films. DVD and Video the huge amount of DVD purchases transformed film distribution. Where previously the cinema was regarded as the primary source of revenue for a production, now theatrical release is seen as a platform from which to gain the more lucrative sales on DVD. Many films that failed at the box office can recover their costs and more through DVD sales. The UK is the best market for DVD sales in the world per head of population, and frequently brings in more revenue for a film in this window than the US. Increasingly, films that failed in cinemas are finding their audience on DVD instead, and in some instances have even been re-released in theatres on the back of this success. The Broadcast rights the third window through which the film can be sold is pay TV, which includes subscription channels as well as pay-per-view. The pay-TV companies function in a similar way to the Exhibitors and once again larger Distributors can sell packages of several films to them on the back of one big hit. Once all the other windows have been exhausted, the film will be sold to terrestrial TV. If a Broadcast company put up money towards the production, they will have first option on the broadcast rights. If the film is a big hit, they will even get these rights for a lot less than they would otherwise have had to pay, and the risk they took in supporting the production will have been paid off. The growing popularity and sophistication of electronic games is seen in some quarters as a threat to the future of the film industry. Their fan-base is growing all the time, and already many big-names releases are rivalling films in terms of profile and market share. More concerning for film producers is that advertisers have increasingly their use of product placement within games, which threatens to displace film advertising as the most prestigious in the entertainment world. In response to this, increasing numbers of big-name films are licensed to computer games developers to create products based on that film. The marketing budget and hype surrounding the cinema release works to promote the game and generates revenue for the company and the film itself, so everyone is happy. In
Hospitality sales for hotel channels and inflight entertainment can bring in millions in additional revenue
DVD and Video
UK audiences spend more on DVD s than on cinema tickets, so success on DVD can compensate for box office failure
Television is the final source of revenue. Rights are sold separately for pay-TV showings and terrestrial broadcast
The game of the film
Rights for computer games and other product licenses can be extremely lucrative sources of additional revenue
this way, filmmakers hope to turn computer games into an opportunity rather than a threat. Only when the gross revenue is in the supply chain, and the Exhibitor, the Distributor and all the Investors have been repaid, does the Producer get anything at all. If the deals struck at the financing stage were not favourable the Producer may not get back much money, even if the film is a big hit. Once the money starts to come back to the production, the Producer must use this money to pay anything owed by the production to the other talent points in the film, such as the Writer and the Director. Only then do the people involved in the production start getting shares of the film s success. Perpetuity the final income from a film is never known. Because of the way film financing works, the Producer must submit accounts for the production for years after the film has been released, and income from distribution continues in perpetuity. Many distributors will buy the full distribution rights to films from the people that originally made them, to build up a back catalogue of products. They can use these rights to create a sustainable income for their businesses by rereleasing old films on DVD and selling them to broadcasters. The film may even be re-released in cinemas in the future. Poverty even if the film has made a healthy profit, it may be years before th e Producer sees any actual money if at all. However, Producers trade on their reputations, and a Producer can be a big hit and negotiate higher fees and cut better deals with financiers on their next project. If their next film is a hit, they can make a lot more money.
Once a film has made a profit, the producer and key creative people can reap their rewards
The final income from a film is never known. Distribution continues in perpetuity, and it may even be re-released in the future
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