Something new that has begun listing movies as “in the future” status. No one has signed any deals, but there are plans the movie is going forward and will be made. The script is not complete, but the idea for the story has begun. This is not used in mainstream Hollywood, but is more of an Independent Film term, as seeking funding begins from the moment the idea was first conceived.
The next step is called being “in development”. The script is to be complete, and now a producer has signed on to go out and find the funds to make the film. Within a studio system, this is pretty easy as the funds are from within; but to an indie-filmmaker, “in development” is where many movies have died on the vine – never to have been made. The story is then flushed out and the script is finalized. A film distributor is usually sought after to ensure when a finish movie is delivered there is a plan for it to get to the audiences. Early on, there is an attempt to appeal to known talent, or A-List actors. This could also be known directors as well; it’s anything that can be attached to the film to give it more credibility for success. Once all agreements have come to terms and contracts are signed, the project is then “green lit” and the movie is slated to be made.
In “pre-production” the planning of the film is strategized over. Storyboards or visual images are drawn to give a sense of what each shot will look like, what resources might be needed for the shot as well. Each scene is looked at and accounted for similar to a project plan; this is also when a budget is attached to the film. Positions are decided upon as the need of the film is flushed out. Filling those positions also takes place. The team will be roughly 90% complete to this point.
“Production” is when the movie is filmed. Even the term “filmed” these days does not always mean put onto actual film. Most indie films are now shot onto a digital format and made to look like film later. Some large films, such as the new “Star Wars I, II, & III” were also all shot onto a high quality digital format by George Lucas. Films take from as short as a month to film to as long as years, such was the case in the trilogy “Lord of the Rings”. Each day, the director and his primary crew/managers (or “above the line” crew) will review what was filmed for that day known as “the dailies”. Once the filming is complete or “in the can”, they then move into the next phase.
“Post-production” is when all of the magic of filmmaking happens. The movie is put into a story order. The sound is tweaked, along with the look and feel of the film by a colorist. Special effects are added, as well as scoring the film or enhancing the film with music. Where would films be without the powerful partnership with music; think of “Jaws” without the eerie music. The editor creates a rough cut and works until they have a final or “locked” cut, where nothing else should be added to the film.
“Distribution” is the final process. This is how the movie gets seen by you, the audience. The preferred method is a theatrical release, but in the age we live in now; this could also mean straight to DVD, computer streamlined, or put out on television or a paid channel. A distribution channel is decided and the movie is released for mainstream audiences to view. An agreement is made for international release and the movie is put out to the world. The profits that are generated go back to the primary investor; either the studio, or individual production company. No truer than making a film, “you have to have money to make money”.