The World of Film Production: How to Make a Movie


This article is part of an ongoing series examining the Anatomy of the Entertainment Business

Ever wondered how to make a movie? 

We’re here to tell you—there’s never been a better time to put your aspirations into action. 

With new trends, strategies and technologies bursting onto the scene at an exciting pace, indie filmmakers are at long last proving one thing: 

You no longer need a blockbuster budget to make a hit movie.

Original content is now in demand. In fact, in 2023 alone Disney invested an impressive $10.5bn in original content.

Thanks to social media, streaming services and accessible technology there’s a more modern film industry on the scene, one that’s transforming the way films are shot, edited and viewed before our very eyes.  

But what does it take to make a movie?

Precision, planning, patience and of course, raw talent. 

The stages of film production are complex, demanding a whole host of talents from across the entertainment industry.

This blog post is about to take you on a journey through the world of film production—from pre-production planning to how to get your movie out to the masses. 

Let’s go. 

Phase one: Pre-production

First up, you’ve gotta lay the groundwork.

Pre-production is all about the plan—setting a solid foundation to ensure the seamless success of your film.

Key pre-production elements:

Script breakdowns
A script breakdown turns your written script into a visual guide for filmmaking.

Initially, the producer crafts a basic version for budgeting and preliminary scheduling.

Then, the first assistant director (first AD) develops a detailed breakdown for creating the complete shooting schedule.

This process involves tagging various scene elements—such as characters, props or specific requirements—to clarify what’s needed for shooting, ensuring efficient planning and resource allocation.

Scene elements you might tag include:

  • Cast members
  • Stunts
  • Vehicles
  • Props
  • Special effects
  • Animals and handlers
  • Set dressing
  • Costumes and make-up

The list goes on. Watch this video for a more in-depth look at the process.

Storyboarding evolves the script breakdown by visually mapping the film shot by shot. 

This phase involves artists sketching scenes to help filmmakers visualize the narrative, determine camera angles and anticipate filming challenges. 

Your storyboard is a vital communication tool between the director, cinematographer and other key crew members, making sure you’re all on the same page with a unified vision for your final film output. 

Smart budgeting involves meticulously mapping out the financial resources for your film project.

You’ll be able to aptly distribute funds, foresee financial hurdles and proactively secure the funding you need.

Cost factors will need to be taken into account, such as script development, talent fees, crew wages and location charges, so you’re all set for the production phase. 

Choosing the correct cast is key.

From the protagonist down to the supporting characters, every single actor has the power to shape the entire narrative of your story. 

Through auditions, read-throughs and callbacks, the team—the casting director, director and producer—seeks out ideal chemistry and character fit.

Location Scouting
Discovering the perfect backdrop for your story is an adventure in itself.

Location scouting involves exploring various venues, evaluating their suitability for scenes and negotiating usage rights.

It’s a collaborative effort, usually led by the director and the production designer, who assess each potential location for its aesthetic appeal, logistical practicality and ability to enhance the storytelling. 

Factors such as lighting, sound quality, accessibility for crew and equipment and the need for permits are all considered.

Phase Two: Production

There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of a film set.

But it’s not all about yelling “Action!” and “Cut!” The real magic lies in capturing the perfect performances, all while keeping the complex logistics of filming running smoothly. 

Key production elements: 

Filming is the most visible part of the filmmaking stage, yet success hinges on detailed pre-production for efficient time, resource and personnel management. 

Lighting, cinematography and directing are key, setting the mood during scenes and actors’ performances. Sound recording is equally essential, capturing dialogue and ambient noises that add realism and texture. 

And in the modern world of today, technological advances such as high-definition cameras and AI editing are offering filmmakers creative opportunities like never before.

Capturing Performances
Ultimately, the goal of your film is to connect with its audience. 

You want to capture compelling performances that make your film more memorable and evoke emotion, with your cast telling the story through expressions, movements and interactions.

You’ll be striving for total narrative clarity whilst conveying the subtleties of the plot, such as character development and character depth.

Managing Logistics
Juggling schedules and talents to assemble the dream team under one roof (or sky) is no small feat.

But it’s not only managing the logistics of the cast and crew. There are also other essential factors to consider, such as: 

  • Equipment rental
  • Transportation
  • Catering
  • Crowd control and security
  • Location management

You’ll also likely be facing challenges such as time crunches and budget constraints, not to mention the weather curveballs that Mother Nature may throw your way.

Our advice? 

Prioritize tasks, allocate resources wisely and maintain a dynamic schedule that can adapt to unexpected changes. That way you’ll be ready for anything.

Phase Three: Post-Production

Post-production is the phase where your raw footage is perfected through editing, sound design and visual effects. 

You’ll make key decisions here, shaping the most unforgettable aspects of your film production.

Key post-production elements:

The editing stage is an involved process.

Initially, footage is logged and organized in editing software, ensuring alignment with the script. 

Editors then assemble the film in tandem with filming, allowing for quick edits and reshoots. 

A rough cut follows, presenting the entire narrative for initial review. 

The fine cut includes collaboration with specialized teams, enhancing the film’s elements. 

Finally, the completed film emerges in the final cut, integrating all music, sound and visual effects and showcasing the story in its full glory.

Sound Design
The subtle rustle of leaves. The eerie silence of a suspenseful scene. The clash of swords during battle.

Sound design intricately blends dialogue, sound effects and Foley to craft an audio environment that adds layers of depth and emotion to the visuals.

Through skillful manipulation and layering of audio elements, sound design bridges the gap between the screen and the viewer, making the cinematic experience deeply engaging and multidimensional.

Visual effects
In their quest to deliver more immersive experiences, filmmakers are embracing visual effects (VFX).

With modern VFX you’ll be able to create imaginative scenes and characters beyond the limits of physical filming. 

Key VFX techniques include:

CGI: Produces detailed digital creations, from environments to creatures

Compositing: Merges live-action with digital elements

Motion capture: Captures real movements to make digital characters more lifelike

→ 3D modeling: Builds the digital foundation for objects and characters in 3D space

Learn more about or VFX programs on campus and online

Phase Four: Distribution

You’ve got a finished film on your hands, but how do you get it in front of eager eyes?

Mastering the complex, fast-evolving film distribution landscape is key.

Due to digital advancements and changing consumer preferences, filmmakers now have a reach that’s potentially wider than ever. 

Reaching Audiences: A Shift in Release Strategies

The traditional model of film distribution is no more.

Streaming platforms, social media and new tech are paving the way for new release strategies, such as: 

Use of Digital and Streaming Platforms
Both major studios and independent filmmakers alike are now using streaming services as a way to reach their target audiences directly.

Subscription-based platforms such as Netflix, Disney and Hulu and video-on-demand (VOD) services are taking over, offering more diverse content than ever before.

In fact, in 2023 there were around 1.8 billion subscriptions to online VOD services worldwide. 

Social Media Marketing
In the world of film marketing, social media has been a game changer.

Filmmakers no longer have to rely solely on billboards and TV ads. Film marketers are now focusing on engaging with audiences directly through social media platforms. 

Typical social media strategies include: 

→ Sharing captivating trailers or behind-the-scenes content

→ Running targeted ad campaigns

→ Building vibrant online communities around their films

→ Promoting beneficial influencer partnerships

→ Spreading viral challenges and user-generated content

→ Developing crowdsourcing opportunities

Careers in Filmmaking

The closing credits of a movie show the incredible variety of film cast and crew roles that have contributed to the film’s success. 

And if you’re going to work in the film industry, it’s time to get to grips with what each one entails.

Here are some of the vital roles on set and behind the scenes: 

A film’s director is the captain of the ship.

They’re responsible for steering the story, guiding the cast and crew through the motions of film production. 

Their main responsibilities can include:

→ Developing the creative vision

→ Planning and executing shots

→ Directing performances

The producer is one of the most fundamental film set roles.

As a producer you’ll be overseeing the development of the entire film, juggling budgets, schedules and egos to construct movies from the ground up.

You’ll have a wide range of responsibilities, such as: 

→ Securing funding

→ Providing organizational guidelines

→ Providing creative input on elements such as script development to ensure the film’s commercial viability

As a cinematographer (also known as director of photography), you’ll be in charge of  creating the look and setting the mood for every single scene

Your responsibilities will include: 

→ Visual conceptualization through lighting, framing and camera movement

→ Troubleshooting technical issues and adapting to changing conditions on set

→ Close collaboration with the director, production designer and other key crew members

In film and television crews, the gaffer, or chief lighting technician, takes charge of all electrical aspects related to lighting setups. This includes implementing and designing the lighting plan for a production.

You’ll find yourself involved in:

→ Equipment setup and electrical safety on set

→ Lighting control over levels and angles during filming

→ Supervision of the lighting crew

Camera operators
From heart-pounding chase scenes to more emotional character moments, your expertise will make sure that every shot hits the mark.

Just think of iconic films like The Dark Knight or Inception, where camera operators skillfully navigated high-octane sequences and mind-bending visuals to create unforgettable cinematic experiences.

Your responsibilities will include: 

→ Capturing footage according to the director of photography

→ Framing shots creatively, considering factors such as composition, angle and movement.

→ Maintaining camera equipment, including cameras, lenses and accessories

Art director
As an art director you’ll be tasked with creating the visual identity of the film by designing sets, picking out props and overseeing artists and construction workers.

Other responsibilities can include: 

→ Planning the schedule for the art department team

→ Managing the art department budget

→ Leading the art department team, including set decorators, prop masters and art assistants 

Ready to take the leap? To learn filmmaking at its finest, we’re here to help and get you started on your journey in film production.

Take a look at our range of filmmaking degrees where you’ll learn all aspects of film production and carve your niche in the industry.