When people ask me where I work and say I work in production, I always have to explain what it is after that. I say – production, and people ask me – production of what? A further explanation comes down to just words – making movies, and then people nod their heads in understanding. But for all those who would like to know more about the preparation and shooting of a film or commercial, in the following words, I will address the terms that are common place in our discourse and job descriptions that make up an audiovisual production.
Production is the process of creating a product, simply put. The product that we at Brojka deal with is a film, i.e. TV commercials, so production is the process of making one specific film or TV commercial. This comprehensive process consists of smaller, causally related processes, so I will roughly divide production into three major phases: preproduction, production, and postproduction. Each of them is important, it continues the previous one, and none of them can be skipped.
Preproduction – the word itself indicates that this phase is before the production or shooting of a film. In the pre-production, the conceptual template of the project is created – the script, the storyboard, as a textual and pictorial draft of the film. The screenwriter writes the script. From that initial idea, he moves on to further realization. According to the director’s instructions, the storyboard or shooting book is a scripted document with illustrated scenes. It will be needed until the end of production and serve as a reference point for editors to edit the film and bring it to the director’s final idea. A skilled illustrator who draws a storyboard, understands the relationship between space and camera and knows how to graphically present a frame. In the pre-production, after the first steps are set in this way, we go further in planning the realization (filming). In order to reach the end of the project in the most efficient way, it is necessary to plan each step, because time is money, and if we have not planned everything well, we will spend the money in vain. Or we won’t because we will make a budget at this stage, because we want to have all this information ready before the “real thing” starts.
To make a film we need: equipment, film crew, actors (and extras), costumes, props and locations. When we break down the script into individual scenes, it is necessary to see how demanding individual scenes are and how to solve those requirements most efficiently, while considering our product’s aesthetic and artistic value. How we will gather the cast depends on the wishes and possibilities of the production. If we are not sure who would best play a role, it is best to arrange an audition and invite certain actors to try and play some scenes. At this stage, when the text becomes a living word, it is always exciting to see how and in what way the written word is interpreted. When a group of actors is determened – it is the cast.
When we gather the other listed factors of the film (equipment, film crew, locations, costumes, props…) we know where we stand financially, we start the rehearsals with the actors and agree on filming locations. We planned each shooting day in the preproduction phase.
The filming phase is the shortest production phase. It lasts from a month to two, and each filming day usually lasts 12 hours. In the filming phase, anything that can go wrong usually goes wrong. And the budget is often stretched by unpredictable costs because that’s life! Sometimes a few days before the filming, new lead actors or team members are needed, or we have to go for filming permits again because “someone didn’t get the memo.” In any case, during filming, life gets in the way, along with Murphy, who also makes sure that life situations are comical. Once, during the filming of a series, an entire bag of make-up was stolen from a make-up artist in front of a shopping centre. Although we later remembered this with laughter, how they ran after the thieves and shouted – “Give us back the bag, it’s for the series!”, the damage was done, thus incurring one more unpredictable cost.
Making a film is also a very intense period in which people get closer and fall in love, and at times even quarrel, because they are constantly together and that is normal. After shooting the film, the world seems very slow, and life is tasteless because such an intense period completely overwhelms a person, so it takes some time to return to everyday life. Either way, shooting is definitely a place to create magic.
After we have filmed (and recorded) everything, we are followed by the third significant phase of production – postproduction. At this stage, all the filmed material is sent for further processing – or editing. Editing is, to put it simply – image manipulation. It is a bridge between the viewer and the author to encourage the viewer to draw a conclusion or judgment about the meaning of a series of displayed frames. The montage determines what the film will look like in the end. Remember the storyboard from the beginning of this text? According to the storyboard, the editor will make the first rough editing of the material. After rough editing, according to the director’s instructions, the final version of the film is made, and the last finesse is done – image editing (colour correction) and sound processing, which often involves recording noise, music, removing tonal and technical impurities and irregularities in production recordings. This phase brings our artwork to an end. There is no going back and no adding people, scenes or text. That is why it is essential to plan the shooting well, because if we need some mass scenes or views of some other cities – this should be foreseen – to know for which scene we need special shooting equipment (e.g. green screen or drone), as well as other special effects, and if it is predicted to have them in the film.
Working on a film is a comprehensive process involving a lot of people, primarily creatives. Therefore it is important to have a system that is hierarchically arranged, almost like a military one. Still, it all makes sense because otherwise, it would be chaos, and nothing would ever be filmed.
Keep calm and film on!