Professional Camera Man At Work

The Production Phase of Making a New Film

Auteur director Ingmar Bergman wrote: “For me, shooting a film represents days of inhumanly restless work, stiffness of the joints, eyes full of dust, the odors of makeup, sweat and lamps, an indefinite series of tensions and relaxations, an uninterrupted battle between volition and duty, between visions and reality, conscience and laziness.” The production phase is complex and action-packed, dependent on logistics, co-operation and teamwork, a blend of direction, camera, lighting, sound techniques and acting.

Roles of Director and Cinematographer

In the first phases in filmmaking, the director will have assisted the producer in scheduling, casting, location scouting and budgeting, and been involved in the ‘breakdown’ process of script analysis that costs each scene. Directors tend to have control of hiring of crew, drawing in trusted colleagues from previous projects or investigating references and professional reputations to ensure best ‘fit’ with the proposed project.

The visual stylistics of the film have to be discussed and agreed with the cinematographer who is usually Director of Photography. Actors have to be rehearsed and at this stage the cinematographer participates in designing light and colour levels, devising shots, angles, lenses, perspective and focus in collaboration with the director. The director will have devised particulars of individual shots which are compiled in shot lists to direct individuals on what to shoot and from which angles.

Continuity in makeup, costume, props, sets, attention to detail are controlled by assistant producers and directors using production logs, records of daily progress to check against script and schedule. Production imperatives to be met in the production phase include:

  • shooting the film
  • recording live sound
  • keeping to schedule and budget
  • checking rushes
  • developing marketing campaign
  • shooting visual effects (you can see more about this topic on the Vfx Studio Los Angeles)

Filming Scripts Out of Sequence

The sequence of filming does not concur with the sequence of the plot in the script. It is based on what is manageable and affordable within the restrictions of budget and resources. Location shooting will usually all take place over the shortest possible time-scale, outdoor scenes first, depending on weather and set-dressing constraints. Interior and studio-based scenes are shot within a timetable mainly governed by economic considerations of hiring studio facilities.

Studio staging, camera and digital enhancement (like is shown on VFX LA) technologies pose complex challenges, as in James Cameron’s Avatar. Only as each day’s shooting is completed and compared with the schedule will the next day’s call sheets be prepared by the assistant director and handed out to cast and crew at the end of the day so that everyone is prepared for the detail of the next day’s shooting.