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“I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill, and I’m sitting here onCapitol Hill.” We’ve all seen the “Schoolhouse Rock” episode thatexplains how a bill becomes a law. In fact, many of us base ourentire understanding of U.S. politics on that three-minutecartoon.

In many ways, the making of a movie is just as complicated asthe journey a bill takes to become a law. Just like a bill can getstuck in committee or make it all the way to the President beforebeing vetoed, a movie can fail anywhere along the line of itsproduction.


Every movie, even blockbusters that go on to make hundreds ofmillions of dollars, starts out with a single idea. The rights tothis “idea,” perhaps in the form of a book or story, may be boughtby a movie studio. From here, the idea will go to a screenwriterwho will turn it into a script for a feature-length movie. Mostideas will sit for years or even decades in the development stagebefore they move on to pre-production.


If studio executives like a script, they’ll start pre-productionby hiring a producer, director, cast and support staff. They’llalso work out logistical details like the project’s budget andshooting schedule. The movie is then turned over to the producerand director, who will work with artists to develop a storyboardthat will govern the shooting process. Pre-production can addanother several years to a project, since details like contracts,schedules, technical issues and budgets are not easy to workout.


In an ideal world, pre-production would take care of allpotential issues before they pop up during shooting. In reality,production is often filled with unforeseen delays that lead to15-plus-hour days of filming. Filmproduction involves shooting the scenes of a movie over andover until they meet the director’s expectations. While much of afilm’s development involves waiting, production is all aboutaction.


Movies don’t really begin to take shape until post-production.This is the time when a film editor whittles down hundreds of hoursof imperfect footage to something closer to two hours. Then,digitalmedia, sound and music are added to the movie. Studios usuallyshow this unfinished film to test audiences before tweaking it onelast time. Post-production runs into delays when the project goesover budget or a director’s vision for the film doesn’t match thestudio’s plan.


When a movie is fortunate enough to make it throughpost-production, the studio will form a strategy for marketing anddistributing it. Because most movies make at least twice as muchfrom DVD sales and television licenses as they do from theirtheatrical release, much of a studio’s distribution strategyrevolves around maximizing profit after the initial theaterrun.

Information in this article was provided by Brooks Institute, aCalifornia filmschool. Contact Brooks Institute today if you’re interested indeveloping marketable knowledge and career-relevant skills with anindustry-current degree program. (Brooks Institute does notguarantee employment or salary.)

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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