Film Production

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This study is still under development! Please use this discuss section of this page to look at the development roadmap and how to help out.

This study is a division of the Institute of Film and Television at the School of Art and Design.

Film-making is the process of developing a story or idea into a visual medium for audience presentation. Traditionally film-making is thought of as a process specific for the creation of feature films, however many lessons and techniques of traditional 'film-making' apply to various types of productions like commercials and advertisements, animations, music videos, and to some extent, documentaries and news stories.

Film-making is an expansive field, with entire industries and specializations supporting it. It would be difficult and impractical, at this time, for this division to provide a deep study of professional film-making. Therefore, the goal of this division is to cultivate an understanding for the process of creating narrative oriented media for an small scale production. This study will attempt to provide you with a basic framework, that you can expand on with your own efforts. When links are included, you are encouraged to explore them. Wikiversity values cooperative learning; this means that if this study links to information, this study will try not to duplicate that information by covering it unnecessarily.

Film-making is not for the faint of heart, and requires a certain amount of emotional, cognitive, and financial investment, all of which depend on the scale and breadth of your production. This study attempt to detail theoretical information, however there comes a point when real-world application is necessary in order to adequately grasp the concepts. Experimentation may require the use of physical tools such as cameras and lights, and of software tools like word processors and video editing programs. This study will try to present as many cost-effective (if not free/open-source) solutions as possible. This study does not recommend any product or type of product due to monetary/publicity gain. Anything the study does recommend is purely based on experience, and should not be interpreted as commercial endorsements. Keep in mind that if we utilize a tool to adequately demonstrate concepts, those concepts can and should apply to any solution that fits the necessity.

Note, that this is a digitally oriented exploration into film-making, and does not tackle traditional film-stock handling at this time. Before indulging, you should have some basic, but adequate knowledge and understanding of computer and technology use.

History[edit | edit source]

The art of motion pictures has evolved as the technology to create and observe media has advanced. The artform has also changed over time as audiences' culture in varying regions has evolved. By understanding how media has been developed in the past, you can gain insightful knowledge and ideas of how to tackle storytelling concepts. A comprehensive history of film exists at Wikipedia.

Media Analysis[edit | edit source]

When jumping into making a film, you may feel you wish to be bold, and want to experiment with different techniques and means. However it is important to remember that there is over a century of experimentation and development of the artform already out in the world; it would be counter-productive not to take advantage of proven methods and techniques from successful productions. Before delving into the creation of a film, it is useful to dissect an existing piece of media.

In this section, we're going to analyze some examples of media. We're going to try to analyze media that is readily accessible online, however if we delve into a commercial film, you may need to visit a library, rent, or buy that film.

Narrative[edit | edit source]

All films, whether fictitious or non-fictitious, are merely the visual/audial telling of a narrative. Most successful films have all the literary elements and devices of creative writing. Wikiversity's School of Language and Literature is developing resources on creative writing, but as of 2/2013, this does not appear adequate.

Types of Narratives[edit | edit source]

There are different types of narrative media.

Common Divisions of Narrative Media

Though it may seem contradictory to the nature of journalism, such media can be considered narratives because of the use of literary techniques required to relate information in a pleasing manner to audiences. Additionally, there are types media that can cover events such as stage/theater or musical performances, and abstract media like Music videos. A TV commercial can be considered a form of narrative.

Different types of narratives fulfill different purposes in the content they present, and the audiences they are directed toward.

Targeted Message[edit | edit source]

When developing a narrative it is important to keep your audience in mind, and the message you wish to convey to them. You may think that you are just creating a work merely to entertain someone, but this is generally not a good premise in which to create a piece of media. Directed media is not just reserved for a call to action like in commercial advertisements. Most narratives (films, literary works, etc.) have a message (or several messages) that are directed towards a targeted audience.

The most basic type of message found in media is the direct call to action in marketing. You can witness this in TV commercials. A commercial will highlight a problem, propose a solution, highlight reasons to trust the solution, and may provide a contrast/comparison to a competing solution. By the end of the advertisement, the message is reinforced by telling the viewer to buy a product, vote for a candidate, watch a movie, to do something.

There is another type of message found in media that may not directly ask a viewer to do something. This is the call to inform. Public service announcements can be examples of this when they provide unbiased information to a viewer meant to foster appreciation on the subject.

With advertising especially, marketers collect demographic data and analysis to understand potential target audiences and what elements of messages they respond to. You probably do not have access to this type of information, but that should not dissuade you from promoting a message in a narrative. Remember, films and media works that are critically acclaimed have a message (or messages) that strongly resonate(s) with the audience.

A film like Star Wars does not necessarily put forward a commercial intent beyond 'watch this film for entertainment', but it does put forward themes and messages about the coming of age and courage. When a message can be successfully conveyed in an artistic manner, and is broad enough not to be lost in cultural under-pinning, it can resonate with the audience.

Narrative Development[edit | edit source]

Development[edit | edit source]

Once a narrative is developed, there is probably a need to secure assistance for the production. Finances, actors, directors, and more, may be required.

Treatment[edit | edit source]

The purpose of the film treatment is to pitch the idea of the narrative to producers or sources of finance, and potential contributors for the project. A treatment is basically a summary. There are two important types of treatments that serve different functions.

  • Writer's treatment
  • Director's treatment

Writer's Treatment[edit | edit source]

The writer's treatment is basically a sales presentation for producers and executives who will invest in the project. Typically a treatment for a film is about 5-10 pages (where as a screenplay averages at 120 pages). Sometimes the treatment is written and delivered before an actual screenplay is written. If the treatment is for a series, and not just one feature such as a TV show, typically the pilot is detailed, followed by brief summaries of future episodes.

Director's Treatment[edit | edit source]

Films and TV series can have multiple directors. Potential directors need to propose how they plan to shoot the project to producers and executives, in the hopes they will be selected. This type of treatment needs to address the look/style the director will aim for, the sound design and music will work, and how the actors and locations will be fashioned. The director is the central decision maker of a production, and this vision needs to be laid out in this proposal form. As for format there is no standard. Some can be a few pages in length, have photos, or even be slideshow presentations.

Technical Workflow[edit | edit source]

Though the whole process of film-making is a workflow, with many workflows supporting its various aspects. You need to consider some major technical aspects before you move any further. How do you plan to distribute the final work to the audience? How do you plan to record for this, and edit those recordings? This will affect equipment considerations for principal photography and post-production. Alone, the technical considerations for resolution, aspect ratio, and color-gamut as how they relate to format selection are exhaustive. This study will attempt to provide you with a basic guide for format and tool selection.

Pre-Production[edit | edit source]

In a broad sense, pre-production is all the planning and word that needs to take place before the film can be created. Typically, pre-production formally begins when a project is 'greenlit' meaning its finances have been approved. Depending on the complexity of the production, there may be many facets that need to be addressed, such as insurance and expense management, casting, costume design, set design, lighting design, shot design, sound design, choreography... In a professional production, there are many people to handle these various aspects. Independent or small scale productions may not have the personnel to handle all these facets, or the need to address them. However there are some needs that should be taken care of.

Screenplay[edit | edit source]

Storyboard or Visualization[edit | edit source]

Shot Design[edit | edit source]

Location Scouting[edit | edit source]

Principal Photography[edit | edit source]

Post-Production[edit | edit source]

Distribution[edit | edit source]