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The Stages of Film Production: How Movies are Made

film production stages

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From a social media post to a theatrical release in IMAX theaters, no matter what format, filmmaking is an art form that can be broken down into 5 distinct stages. In this blog post, we will explore each of these stages in detail and learn about the various roles that are involved in making a movie. From development to distribution, we will cover it all! So, if you’re curious about how movies are made, keep reading!

The process of making a film can be long and complicated, but by following the well-established steps of film production, filmmakers can ensure that their project is as successful as possible. Here are the seven stages of film production:


The development stage of film production is when a film’s concept is first created. This can be an original idea from a writer or director or it can be based on existing source material, such as a book or play. Once the concept has been established, the next step is to write the screenplay.

A screenplay (or script) is a blueprint for a film and it contains all of the dialogue, action, and character development. Once the screenplay is written, it is then time to begin the budgeting and financing.

Budgeting and Financing 

After the screenplay has been written, it is time to begin the process of finding financial backing for the project. This can be done through private investors, studio funding, or government grants. But, in order to properly pitch a project for financing, a clear comprehensive budget must be created beforehand.

A production budget is created from a meticulous analysis of the screenplay, it details all of the project’s estimated costs, including cast and crew salaries, equipment rentals, locations fees, post-production costs, and distribution expenses. Creating a realistic (ie: not overly optimistic) budget is crucial for securing financing. It demonstrates the production’s seriousness and provides an invaluable tool for navigating the coming weeks, months, or years of the production process.

Once funding has been secured, the next stage of production can begin.


The pre-production stage is when all of the logistics for making the film are planned out. This includes everything from hiring the cast and crew to securing locations and booking studio space.

One of the most important aspects of pre-production is to break down the script and create the film’s shooting schedule. This schedule outlines when and where each scene will be shot, and it takes into account all of the necessary prep work, such as set construction and costume fittings. The choice of filming location(s) will also impact the shooting schedule as different locations can have drastically different union regulations that control things such as the maximum number of hours that a set can operate, the amount of turnaround time between days, and the number of days per week.

The shooting schedule is created primarily by the producers, director, and cinematographer (director of photography) along with valuable input from all the department heads.

Once all of the logistics have been planned out and the necessary crew has been hired, it is time to move into production.


Production is when the film is actually shot. This can take anywhere from a few days or weeks to several months, depending on the scope and budget of the project.

The director and actors collaborate with the film’s entire crew to bring the script to life before the camera. This includes everything from lighting and set design to hair, makeup, VFX, and more.

Principal Photography

During the production stage, in what is known as principal photography, the majority of a film’s budget will be spent as this is when all of the equipment, locations, cast, and crew are being utilized. Throughout the production process, The First Assistant Director (1st AD) is the crew member that keeps the cast and crew on schedule day-to-day and helps realize the director’s vision.


After production has wrapped, it’s time for post-production. This is when the footage is edited into a cohesive story, the music and sound are added, and the visual effects are created.

Post-production can take just as long as production, if not longer, and it is during this stage that a film really starts to come together. The first step in post-production is editing the raw footage into a rough cut. This is when the director and editor(s) start to assemble the film according to the screenplay and their vision.

Once the rough cut is complete, it is time to add in the music, sound effects, and replacement dialogue.

The final step in post-production is color correction and grading. This is when the film’s overall look is finalized, and the visual aesthetic is consistent throughout.


The final stage of film production is distribution. This is when the finished film is released to the public through screenings, film festivals, theatrical releases, or simply via an upload to the internet. Traditionally, once the film has been released, it is later distributed to other platforms such as streaming services, home video, or television.

Distribution can be a complicated process, but it is essential in getting the film seen by audiences. There are many different ways to distribute a film, and the best method will vary depending on the type of film, the budget, and the audience.

The most important thing to remember is that distribution is not just about getting the film out there, but also about finding the right audience for it. With so many different ways to distribute a film these days, there is no excuse not to find your audience and get your movie to the people who want to see it.


The marketing campaign for a film begins in pre-production and continues all the way through distribution. The marketing team’s goal is to generate interest in the film and get people excited to see it. This is done through a variety of methods such as creating trailers and posters, conducting press junkets and interviews, and holding premieres.

Nowadays social media and the internet play a large role in the marketing of a film.

Once the film has been released, the marketing team will continue to work to ensure that people are aware of it and that it is being seen by as many people as possible.


Making a film is no easy feat. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and passion from everyone involved in the project. However, when all is said and done, and you get to see your film up on the big screen or simply being enjoyed by others, it is all worth it.

Up next, we’ll take a moment to discuss a very important topic: film safety.


How long does it take to make a movie?

The answer to this question varies greatly depending on the type of film, the budget, and the production schedule. Generally speaking, a feature film takes anywhere from one to two years to complete.

Who creates a film production schedule?

The production schedule is typically created by the line producer or unit production manager. This schedule is then approved by the director, producers, and studio (or financers) before production begins.

How is a film budget created?

A film’s budget will vary depending on the type of film, the shooting schedule, the locations, and many other factors. Generally speaking, the line producer, working with the producer and director, will create a film budget that then must be approved by the studio or financiers.

What are the different phases of film production?

The stages of film production include development, pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution. Each stage has its own set of tasks and challenges that need to be completed before moving on to the next stage.

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