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The Process: How a film is made Prof. P.V. Viswanath EDHEC June 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "The Process: How a film is made Prof. P.V. Viswanath EDHEC June 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Process: How a film is made Prof. P.V. Viswanath EDHEC June 2008

2 What are Studios today? We start with the notion of a studio – which is a primarily a service organization – a clearing house. It might contract with a producer to buy a produced film It might act as a financial intermediary for the financing of the production of that film It might arrange for advertising of the film and its distribution It might enter into contracts with distribution companies or directly with exhibitors. It usually outsources the actual production and financing of films to corporations. Revenues flow into the studio and are paid out to the various participants

3 The Studio System Before today’s studios, there was a studio system. The studio system refers to a means of film production and distribution dominant in Hollywood from the early 1920s through the early 1950s.Hollywood1950s Under this system, large motion picture studiosstudios  produced movies primarily on their own filmmaking lotsfilmmaking  with creative personnel under often long-term contract and  pursued vertical integration through ownership or effective control of distributors and movie theaters, guaranteeing additional sales of films through manipulative booking techniques.vertical integrationdistributorsmovie theaters The Paramount case, a federal anti-trust case essentially ended the studio system in 1948.

4 The Six Studios Today there are six major studios:  Paramount Pictures owned by Viacom  20 th Century Fox, owned by News Corporation  Universal Studios owned by NBC Universal, which is owned jointly by General Electric and Vivendi  Warner Bros. Pictures owned by Time Warner  Columbia Pictures owned by Sony, and  Walt Disney Pictures owned by the Walt Disney Company

5 Genesis A movie starts with one or more of the following:  An Idea  A book  A magazine article  An original story that could be adapted  An old movie or play that could be remade

6 The pitch Most ideas that eventually become films are presented to studio executives orally in what is called a pitch. Studio chiefs look for  Suspense, Laughter, Violence, Hope  Heart, Nudity, Sex, Happy endings They look for what is likely to attract/repel  Equity partners/financiers  Merchandisers, Video chain stores  Foreign pay-TV outlets, toy licensees…

7 Developing an idea into a film This is the realm of producers. Though these producers may be independent, studios often give them  Offices on their lot  Money to hire writers  Money to option books  To cover other expenses In 2002, the six studios had 2500 ideas in some stage of development

8 The Script If an idea is sufficiently distinctive and attractive, it must be converted into an acceptable script. The script is the blueprint for the making of a movie. The script is written, revised, polished – and sometimes, completely reconceived – this is called development. If the script is acceptable to all parties, it gets green-lighted, i.e. it moves into pre-production.

9 More about conversion to a script Projects that fail to get green-lighted get put into turnaround – this gives the producer the right to sell them to another studio Screenwriters work in teams and produce a script on speculation or “spec.” They get paid in stages  Some portion on signing a contract  Some portion on the completion of the first and second drafts  The balance contingent on the story being actually filmed as a movie.

10 Green-Lighting In order to get green-lighted, it must be acceptable to a director, who will then be willing to commit to it. To do this, they have to have some control over the script. Often they get credit as the author or coauthor. They often modify the script to suit their own directorial strengths. Often producers may need to get one or more top stars to act in the film in order to get the script green-lighted.

11 What Green-Lighting means Green-lighting is a big commitment Directors and stars usually have “pay or play” clauses to pay their full fixed compensation, once a film is green-lit, even if it is then abandoned. The average commitment for a studio green light in 2003 was about $130 million.

12 The Budget Before green-lighting, the producer has to develop a tentative budget based on a shot-by- shot breakdown of the script. It specifies the total days of shooting and estimates all expenses. The above-the-line costs include agreed-upon payments for buying rights, developing the script and compensating starts, directors, producers and writers. The below-the-line expenditures include all the daily expenses during the actual production and postproduction periods.

13 Above the line with Terminator 3 $70.5m in above-the-line expenses  $19.6m for the story  $29.25m for Arnold Schwarzenegger  $5m for the director, Jonathan Mostow  $10m for four producers  The remaining for supporting actors and perk packages for the star and director

14 Above the line with Terminator 3 $57.4m in below-the line expenses to account for 100 days of shooting for the actors unit and 67 days for the second units. Second units shoot scenes not requiring the appearance of the major actors. Stunts are usually filmed by second units. They photograph backgrounds for shots in which actors are later added by the lab They film landmarks, crowds, traffic and other scenery that show the audience what the characters are supposed to be looking at.

15 Below-the-line budget $12.1m for constructing, dressing, operating sets $7.7 for special effects $2.6 for lighting the sets $2.4 for the camera crew $359,000 for sound 566,000 for make-up $1.6m for wardrobe $5.4 m for second units $4.4m for locations

16 More below-the-line $3.9 for transportation $1.5m for stunts $2m for the production staff $395,000 for extras $1.6m for the art department $1.2m for buying and processing the film $1.9m for renting studio space $28m for 200 days of post-production work – digital effects, editing, dubbing, music and for the opening and end titles.

17 General Expenses and Insurance The general part of the budget was $13.4m. $2.4m for the completion bond $2m for cast insurance $2m for legal and accounting expenses $7m for unforeseen contingencies $5m for 3600 prints $45m for advertising and publicity

18 Other cashflows Major merchandise tie-in partners also help with advertising. For example, the James Bond film Die Another Day had $120m in merchandiser advertising. Merchandisers could have long-term contractual agreements with studios, as well. In addition, box-office revenues, video revenues, merchandising revenues all have to be forecast.

19 On to the actual movie making Once a film is green-lighted, the studios executes contracts with the producers, co- financiers, directors and other principals in the production The initial installment of funds is deposited in a bank account set up for the production. A team of executives is assigned to complete the film. The film is set up as a separate corporation and hires hundreds of temporary employees including actors, artists, technicians, constructions workers, drivers, caterers and personal assistants.

20 Producer hierarchy The line producer or production manager who, on a day-to-day basis ensures that the director has what he needs to make the movie. The first assistant director (AD) who schedules the arrivals and departures of actors and technicians on the set so that the director can efficiently shoot the movie. A director of photography (DP) who supervises the camera and lighting crew

21 Further down the hierarchy A production designer responsible for creating the visual illusion on sets and locations. A wardrobe head responsible for outfitting all the actors A location manager responsible for the logistics of all the shooting done outside the studio A unit manager, whose staff tracks the expenditures, keeps the books and makes sure the bills are paid.

22 Shooting Schedules A detailed shooting schedule is established, taking into account the stars’ schedules and the most efficient use of expensive locations and other time-sensitive resources. Stars limit their availability to a specific number of weeks, called the “guaranteed period” after which they get paid a huge increment. All scenes in a given location are shot at the same time, regardless of when they take place in the story.

23 Storyboards The first step in the pre-production process (prep) is storyboarding. A film storyboard is a large comic of the film or some section of the film produced beforehand to help film directors visualize the scenes and find potential problems before they occur.comicfilm directors Often storyboards include arrows or instructions that indicate movement. A storyboard provides a visual layout of events as they are to be seen through the camera lens. Storyboards allow visual thinking, planning and experimenting, particularly when working in groups.

24 Casting The next step is casting the speaking roles. A casting director is used who acts as a specialized consultant in suggesting actors for movie parts. Sometimes directors want to work with specific actors whom they’ve worked with successfully previously. If a director believes that an actor will contribute to the success of the film, the script may even be rewritten to suit the actor. After a screen test, the selected actors are offered contracts specifying the periods they will be available for principal shooting and then for dubbing and reshooting.

25 Creating the Setting The third step is creating the setting in which the story takes place. The production designer designs the sets, props and clothing for every scene. These are incorporated into the storyboards. Engineers, carpenters and other specialists then create the necessary ingredients to transform these designs into three-dimensional full-scale reality.

26 Technical Details and Logistics Technicians must simultaneously be hired for the camera manipulation, for sound and for lighting The producer needs to hire hairdressers, makeup artists and wardrobe dressers. Location scouts find locations that fit into the production design Then logistical arrangements must be made for the arrival of the technicians and actors.

27 Shooting the film Every day of shooting is expensive – the average daily running cost of a film in 2000 was $165,000. Directors depend on their first assistant directors to act as their executive officers. After actors take their place on the scene (a given camera position is called a setup) and the director of photography (DP) is satisfied, the scene is shot – this is called a take. The director views a digital version of the take and if he is dissatisfied will do several more takes. Sound engineers and DPs may also request re-takes. After a successful take, the director moves on to the next setup.

28 Continuation of the Shooting At the end of a day, the director, the AD, the producers, the DP, the production designer and editor go into a projection room to watch the unedited dailies from the day’s shooting. The director determines whether he has the shots necessary for the film. The studio executives also look at the dailies and make their own comments. The unit managers send lists of each day’s expenditures to the head of physical production, who keeps costs from exceeding budget. When the last take is completed, principal photography is over. At this point, computer graphics are added and missing sounds (such as crowd sounds) are inserted.

29 Editing and Film Completion Finally the film is edited by the editor. The director closely supervises the editing, which can, sometimes, drastically change the nature of a film. This procedure is done on a computer. Once the editing decisions are all made, the director’s cut is produced. The studio usually has final control of the film before the final cut is made. At this point, the accountants come up with the final computation of the “negative cost.” The film goes into inventory awaiting a decision as to when it will be released.


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