Filmmaking 101: A Strictly Beginner’s Introduction

Updated: Apr 30

Filmmaking is a process that is exactly what it sounds like it's making a film. Like every art form, filmmaking involves a variety of processes, performed in stages by expert professionals. Some of the stages in the process are,

  • Story

  • Idea conception

  • Screenwriting

  • Casting

  • Direction

  • Production

  • Editing

  • Screening

  • Distribution



While often we don’t think about the tedious process behind the making of a film during or after we watch it, there is no denying that a highly substantial amount of effort and work has gone into making it. Talking about filmmaking, did you know that the very first moving picture in the whole world was when the Edison company demonstrated a prototype of the Kinetoscope? Following this discovery, the very first films were generally short in nature, sometimes for a mere few minutes. However, it was around the early 1900s in Europe, Russia, and Scandinavia where film industries were set up, and started producing films that somewhat resemble the films of today. In simple words, there were the closest ancestors to our films, today in the 21st century.


The evolution of the filmmaking industry in almost all the aspects is very easy to visibly note if you were to compare between the original ‘King Kong’ of 1933 to the recent remake in 2005. You will truly notice the spectacle and the creative advancement over the decades. Changes ranging from shorter shots, motion, and lighting are just a few to highlight. Prior to the pandemic, the filmmaking industry has a steady trajectory for years to come with the worldwide box office revenue amounting to about 42 billion U.S dollars in 2019.


Common Terms to Make Note of during the Filmmaking Process

  • Close up, Close shot: Exactly as it sounds, it is a zeroed in perspective of an object or a person, usually presented without much context background.

  • Cross-cutting: It refers to the cutting of shots from 2 different sequences, usually from different contexts. What this technique wants to achieve is to show that the sequences are basically happening simultaneously.

  • Master shot: As the name suggests, it really is the grand scene that is taken a single uninterrupted shot typically encompassing an entire scene in full shot range.

  • Wipe: It is primarily an editing device that is presented as a line that runs across the screen. This is to demonstrate ‘pushing off’ an image to reveal the other.

  • Pull-back dolly: This is rather a technique that is used to surprise the viewer. Here, the camera pans out withdrawn to reveal an object or the person that was previously not present in the frame.


Filmmaking: The Actual Process

Planning & Development

Being the initial stage in the process, it starts off with an ‘idea’ for a film. Honing in on the idea lets you arrive at the second stage, which is setting up the premise, story, down to the dialogues in a somewhat linear format, so as to make it as legible as it could be for the initial stage. Following this, formatting through a storyboard may come of use to gain clarity for yourself, and for gathering your thoughts. A storyboard is nothing about a series of drawings that could be very basic in nature, just with the goal of conveying the shots in your film. One common exercise that is both useful and exciting is to try conveying your idea within 50 words or less. If you’re unable to do so, it's likely that you may want to simplify it or refine it further for clarity. With a drawn-out conception process, you can go ahead with the cast and crew. Here, you will be able to finally zero in on who your team will be, and who your characters are. Most of the time, this stage ends with finalizing locations, setting, and premise that would be the kick-start to the actual filming process.


Filming

Following the primary stage, the actual phase of filmmaking kicks in. To make the process easier, make sure your planning schedule and script are ready in place. This in turn avoids the potential for mishaps and inconveniences and keeps you organized. Making sure your schedule is appropriately timed gives you ample time to shoot, along with avoidance of any rush. One pro tip to note here is that you could try out filming the scenes from different angles, as this will give you more footage to work with during the post-production process. In case you shooting live sound, make sure you pay attention to the overall sound quality which will alter help during editing. Your priority at this stage should be two things-sticking to budget and schedule.


Production & Distribution

If you thought filming and development was a long process, you’re slightly wrong. Post-production processes can take the most time in your overall schedule and require the most resources in terms of effort, time, energy, and expert personnel from your side. Post-production in simple words in editing through a very rough cut of the film. Once the editing is streamlined, then goes in addition to sound effects, music, visual effects, etc. One tip you could make use of is that less is always more. Though this stage in particular can be overwhelming, it is also the most important as it let you arrive at the final product. As you run through the editing process, it is advisable to keep running through your film to make sure it makes sense throughout. After post-production, the only thing left to do is sharing your film, namely, distribution. This step lets the producers curb their money back, and to an extent dictates the success of your filmmaking process and product. With the popularity of OTT platforms, the film can be either sold to cinemas for mass viewing, or for digital platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.


With such a seemingly tedious process in play, do you prefer the good old cinemas or the comforting home viewing experience? Comment down below!


About the Author:

Nandha Palani Dorai is a content writer and co-founding editor of Bluegraph Press, the literary print magazine & online portal for readers and writers from Indian and South Asia. She helps in elevating brand presence through her content, copy & brand identity design.