Movie Making Manual/Production

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This Module is part of the Movie Making Manual

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You have your script, hired your cast and crew so now you are ready to begin the marathon called Motion Picture Production.

Who Are These People?[edit]

First there is the movie's producer. The producer hires the line producer to be in charge of the crew but the producer is still going to be hanging around the movie set each day.

The line producer must hire all the people on the crew. And the line producer must also worry about keeping the crew happy!

The producer hired the movie's director. Over the years, the role of director has changed. And depending on how the deal was set up, the director can have other titles and duties as well. In the simplest case, the director simply controls the performance of the actors and focuses the actors. The director must be good at directing actors. The director will do the blocking for the scene. Each director has his own shooting style.

The cinematographer is in charge of everything related to creating and capturing the image on film (or digital video, etc.). Therefore, the cinematographer must worry about lighting, the camera, the lenses, film stock, cameras and formats, power sources, the film, filteration etc. and everything which effects the look of the movie. The cinematographer is in charge of the camera crew and renting a camera, no matter if it is film, HD and DV. If your movie is low budget, guess who worries about Shooting on Film on a low budget? One way to save money is short ends. The cinematographer is responsible for monitoring and measuring exposure. The cinematographer must do all the in-camera special effects such as filming or faking rain or shooting underwater. For more information on learning to be a cinematographer, here is a list of books. Other things to consider are HDV vs. DVCproHD.

To do the sound recording, the sound mixer records the dialog while the boom operator holds the microphone over the actors but out of sight of the camera (hopefully). The slate person operates the clapper board and quietly through this entire process, a still photographer takes the stills.

The Daily Grind[edit]

Each day, according to the call sheet that was distributed the night before, the actors arrive very early in the morning for makeup and costumes. Last night, the actors have memorized their lines for today based on the scene list in the call sheet.

In the meantime, the director, producer and studio executives are looking at the film dailies from yesterday to see what went right and what went wrong.

At the same time, the light people are finishing the rough setup of the lighting. And the construction crew is finishing any last minute changes to the movie set.

Finally, everyone gets together and begins blocking the scene and final rehearsals (if any.)

If lighting adjustments are needed based on the blocking, the actors go to their trailers while their stand-ins stay to help with the lighting.

Finally the filming of the scene begins. Long before now, the director has broken down the scene into a series of shots. For each shot, the cinematographer positions the camera and the boom operator positions the microphone.

Filming Procedure[edit]

When everyone is ready, the Cinematographer yells, "Set" to mean that the everything on the set is ready.

The tape recorder for the boom microphone is turned on when the director yells, "Roll Sound".

When the audio tape recorder has reached the proper speed, the sound mixer yells, "speed" or the more classic "rolling".

Then the director yells, "Roll Camera". The camera is started. The camera is turned on after the audio tape recorder because the film is more expensive than the audio tape.

When the Camera is rolling, the camera operator will yell, "Speed" or "speeding" or sometimes the more old fashioned "rolling."

Then the 1st AD will yell, "Slate" and the slate operator will announce which scene this is (having first gotten that information from the script supervisor). This same information is written on the slate of the clapper board. The reason for announcing the scene number is for the lab technician who will listen to the audio tape to find the start of the correct scene when the lab operator syncs the audio to the picture that night.

Then the slate operator will close the clapper sticks with a loud clapping sound so that the camera sees the closing of the clapper sticks and the audio tape records the noise of the sticks hitting together.

Then the 1st AD will inform the actors that they can begin the scene with "action".

When the director feels like it, the director will yell, "Cut". If the movie is being shot on 35mm film which is very expensive, and the director likes the actor's performance and the cameras performance, the 1st AD will also yell, "Print" which means that this is a good take and everyone including the script supervisor, the sound person and the camera assistant will circle this take number on their logs or notes.

If the director feels like it, he will ask everyone do to this again. If the director is satisfied, then director will yell, "Next" and everyone will set up for the next shot. If the same scene will be filmed from a different angle, the script supervisor will create a Take Number usually by adding an alphabetic letter to the take number. Take 32A is will be roughly the same as Take 32 but from a different camera angle.

If the slate is not at the beginning of the shot, it will be at the end of the shot but upside down.

If the movie has a really low budget and the audio or the camera are not running accurately, there might be two slates, one at the beginning and one at the end so the audio can be stretched to fit the video. (This is very rare but realize it is possible.)

Visiting the Movie Set[edit]

The best way to see all of this is to visit the movie set. If you don't have the time to become a Production Assistant, take the tours of movie studios. Some tours can be very interesting.

Hollywood Studio Tours[edit]

While the Universal Studio Tour is more entertainment than actual examples of filming, you can pick up tickets to filming as you leave Universal Studio Tour area. Most are for Sitcoms which are filmed totally different from a motion picture. Yet they are very educational and entertaining to watch.

At one time, the best tour in Hollywood (and the most expensive) was at Warner Bros. Their website does not work well but you can try it at Warner Bros. If you have been on this tour recently, please tell us.

NBC Studio has a ticket office which gives out free ticket. However, these are mostly for sitcoms. If anyone has been to the filmings in LA, please give us a list of where you go to get tickets and what is available currently.

Japan[edit]

Don't overlook the studio tours in other lands. Eiga Mura, the Toei Studio Movie theme park in the northwest part of Kyoto is great fun. Years ago, you could actually see post production if you waited and watched very carefully in one of the distant buildings. If anyone has gone visited this movie village recently, please describe what you saw. Here is an article on this movie village in 2005. Many of the movie are filmed in plain sight of the crowds of tourists. Great fun!

India[edit]

Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad does have a tour facility. The main hub of Indian Cinema is Bombay - A unguided tour of Film City, off the Western Express Highway in Goregaon (E), Mumbai is a good place to start off with. Spread over acres and acres of lush green forests on mountains there are sets of various film and Tv productions at any point in time with shoots going on. One of India's largest film processing labs, Adlabs is located here along with sets of Balaji (India's tele soap factory) and many others. One can also move from here to Mehboob Studios, bandra where there are often lavish sets of various film songs are set up. Then on its a process of ask the locals and try your luck.

England[edit]

I believe that Pinewood Studios has a studio tour. Anyone been there? Please tell us more.

Visiting the Movie Set by Watching Film Dailies[edit]

You can also get an understanding of the way that movies are filmed if you watch film dailies. You see everything that the camera sees for all of the circle takes.

Watching the Movie Set - Film Dailies on eBay[edit]

Sometimes these tapes (given as souvenirs to the cast and crew) become available on eBay. If you also plan to edit the scenes for practice, be sure to get only originals, not copies.

Watching the Movie Set - Digitized Film Dailies[edit]

If you have no other way to watch what happens on the movie set of television dramas, look at Disk #2 from the Star Movie Shop which shows how 24 different scenes were filmed from a variety of television dramas. It is amazing to watch how perfectly the actors repeat their lines. After only one night of memorization and one mornings rehearsal, they hit their mark perfectly. Note: If you shoot your own movie, the dailies will never look as good as dailies from a television drama which is filmed fast and efficiently after years of practice for both the cast and crew. Your first day of filming on a low budget movie with a new crew and inexperience actors will look more like a disaster movie than a motion picture set.

The Different Tasks of Production[edit]

This section will be expanded shortly. It will include such wonderful jobs as "Craft Services". Guess what that is!!!

Animated Motion Pictures[edit]

If you are making is an animated movie, the production is done differently. Animation for an animated motion picture is done during production (not post-production) and is very different from the animation which is done for visual effects in post production.