Film production

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The film production as a production process of a cinema - advertising - or television film is divided into phases project development , pre-production , shooting , post-production and film distribution . There are film productions all over the world in an economic, social, political and artistic context. A variety of techniques are used. Often a large number of people are involved in film production. The production time can vary from a few months to several years.

Movie production worldwide

Worldwide theatrical film production
Sum of sole and majority productions in the country
# country 2010 2011 2013
1 IndiaIndia India 1,274 1,259 1,321
2 United StatesUnited States United States 792 819 1,025
3 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 542 584 589
4th JapanJapan Japan 408 441 458
5 GermanyGermany Germany 189 212 269
6th FranceFrance France 261 272 266
7th United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 346 299 256
8th SpainSpain Spain 200 199 206
9 Korea SouthSouth Korea South Korea 152 216 201
10 ItalyItaly Italy 142 155 158
16 SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland 88 84 87
23 AustriaAustria Austria 46 54 59

The number of films in worldwide theatrical productions, i.e. feature films, animated films, documentaries and other feature films intended for premieres in cinemas, was 6573 in 2011. From 2005 to 2011 this worldwide film production grew by 39%. During this time, an average of 5987 films were produced in around 100 countries each year. Since 2008, the number of worldwide productions has stagnated at around 6500 films per year. This overview does not include films that are not shot exclusively for the cinema. In Nigeria , for example, in 2009 B. 987 films produced, making Nigeria the second largest film nation in the world.


In film production, a distinction is made between creative, organizational-economic and creative artistic activities:

Film production in phases

A film production can be divided into the following phases:

Project development

In project development, in addition to the creation of a production-ready script (material development), the focus is also on film calculation and film financing or the filling of important creative positions on the film staff (director, camera, editing). Editors, producers and directors can be offered a project at different phases, but a scriptwriter can also implement his own ideas, possibly with the help of other artists. The development of the story describes the broad period from researching a story to the twisting version of the script. A distinction is made between developments based on a template ( novels , comics or PC games ) or based on an original idea. Both of these lead to a first synopsis , which in a 90-minute film is around eight pages long, in order to be able to explain the plot of the film with characters and chronological order briefly and coherently. In the further course of the development of the story, the script is worked out by a scriptwriter in coordination with the producer and the director into a treatment (plot text without dialogue). At the end there is the finished script (plot text with dialogue and possibly stage directions and camera settings). Organizational and economic film financing runs parallel to creative development.

Even this phase requires some effort in the professional area, the coordination of many participants and some contractual and financial preparations and preliminary work, for example for the script development. The financing of the project development is usually paid for from own funds, film subsidies, funds from television stations or through provisions made by the scriptwriters.

In order to complete the project development and start implementing the film project, especially in the case of larger productions, a release of the project called Greenlight with a binding commitment to finance must be available.


All technical and organizational steps that precede the actual shooting are carried out in preproduction . This includes the drafting of the storyboard , final work on the script , the production of the sets and costumes, the selection of locations by a location scout , the creation of a precise shooting schedule , the casting of the actors , the putting together of the film crew and the drafting of contracts or renting of equipment. However, a number of this work is not yet completed when the shooting begins, so that preproduction usually refers to the planning and organization ( disposition ) of the shooting and the equipment. The preproduction process usually involves the main parties involved in a film production, including the director and producer of the film. The production manager or production manager, who reports to the producer, usually oversees the organization of preproduction in relation to work organization, material procurement, budgeting, cost control and coordination of the shooting schedule. In the case of large-scale projects, separate film production companies are often set up for financial and organizational reasons.


Director / cameraman William Eubank while filming Love

Experience has shown that the actual shooting phase is the most cost-intensive, because this is where the actors' fees as well as the costs for the rotating rod and motif costs arise. With the start of filming, the preparation time is over. In other words, the script is in its final version, the cast has been determined, the buildings have largely been completed and the motifs for the exterior shots have been determined.

The shooting can be done in the film studio or on original motifs. The choice of location has artistic and economic reasons. While shooting in the film studio offers the greatest planning security, the production of the sets is sometimes associated with a large financial outlay. For artistic reasons, too, filming is often done at the original location, although outdoor shoots require more effort than studio shoots, as people and material have to be brought to the location. The sequence of the scenes to be shot is not necessarily chronological, but depends on organizational and logistical aspects such as the availability of the actors or the motif, as well as the season, weather and light situation in the case of outdoor shots. As a rule, all scenes of a motif are shot in one go.

The duration of the shooting depends not only on the length of the film, but also on the number and type of locations. The shooting time for a 90-minute film in Europe is 12 to 100 days. In the USA, depending on the film project, a shooting time of 15 to 20, 40 to 50 or larger productions of 80 to 100 days is used as a basis for studio productions, although in other countries the shooting takes considerably longer. Because of breaks in shooting and subsequent shoots that are difficult to calculate, the number of days of shooting is usually set higher than actually necessary.

Post production

Post-production primarily includes editing , digital post-processing of the images in the computer ( visual effects , CGI ) and adding film music to the images . The workflows in post-production differ considerably, depending on which material was shot, how large the proportion of computer-generated effects and images is and which end product is to be produced. While most cinema films around the world are still shot on 35 mm film material and shown in cinemas with mechanical projectors, the work steps in post-production are now largely digital.

In the case of analog film material, post-production begins with the film development of the exposed material. The entire developed film original is digitized on a film scanner and the data is loaded onto hard drives together with the original audio data that has already been recorded digitally, in order to be edited there with a digital system. If the film is shot with digital cameras, there is no need for film development and scanning. After the cut, the color is determined : a colorist digitizes again on a film scanner those parts of the negative that appear in the cut, giving the film its so-called “look”. The final image is exposed on 35 mm film. From this, in turn, supplemented by the optical soundtrack, a zero copy is made , the first positive film that is ready for screening. After a test demonstration of the zero copy and, if necessary, color corrections in the development process, you finally have a master from which copies can be made and shown in the cinemas.

At the same time, marketing of the resulting film usually starts .

Film exploitation

Finally, the film is exploited. The point in time at which the cinema or television film is released in cinemas, on television or published on DVD or Blu-ray, for example, also depends on the competitive environment. In particular, the release periods of competing tentpole releases are avoided for the cinema release . Even major national events such as soccer world championships are usually not scheduled for major cinema releases. On the other hand, vacation dates, especially around Christmas and Easter, are considered to be strong sales . In addition to a corresponding marketing campaign for the film (e.g. television, online, poster and radio advertising, film posters in cinemas, trailers in the cinema preview, film website, etc.), the marketing-relevant considerations begin with the development of the material. Four-quadrant movies that appeal to viewers of all genders and ages are considered to be particularly profitable . Streaming platforms such as the market leader Netflix are now commissioning their own productions (e.g. The Irishman ) that can only be seen exclusively by paying subscribers or only shown in cinemas for a small period of time.


If a film is produced as a co-production or a joint production, several film production companies from one or more countries work together on a film project. Co-productions are usually preferred to the sole production of a single producer if the resources (e.g. technology, financial means) necessary to produce the film cannot be raised alone.

In the case of a co-production, a distinction can be made between majority or majority and minority or minority producers. The main or majority producer is the film production company that provides the largest part of the financial resources and therefore usually has the greatest say in the design of the film production, such as the casting of roles and the selection of the production team. Minority producers are usually granted a certain right of co-decision depending on the amount of financial participation in a production. The type and extent of the participation of minority producers are also decisive in the distribution of the proceeds and profits from the exploitation of the films. In addition, a film production is usually assigned to the country in which the majority or main producer is based. This is important in statistics and at some film festivals .

In Europe, international co-productions are widely used. They make up between 25 and 30 percent of European film production. Their share in total film production is greatest in the smaller countries, which usually have less financially strong film companies. Due to the frequency of international cooperation, there are numerous film agreements that are intended to make cooperation across national borders easier, both bureaucratically and organizationally. The European Agreement on the Co-Production of Cinematographic Films has existed for the EU countries since 1992 . In addition, there are numerous bilateral agreements, such as the widely used co-production agreement between Austria and Germany .

Web links

Commons : Film production  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Film production  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Josef Steiff: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Independent Filmmaking . Alpha Books, 2005, pp. 26-28.
  2. a b c Emerging Markets and the Digitalization of the Film Industry (PDF; 1.48 MB), pp. 10/11
  3. New release of cinema data , UNESCO Institute for Statistics , accessed on April 18, 2014
  4. ^ A b Heinz-Hermann Meyer, James zu Hüningen: Development . In: Lexikon der Filmbegriffe, edited by Hans. J. Wulff and Theo Bender.
  5. Development of material in the glossary of the German Film Academy . Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  6. a b Ansgar Schlichter: Pre-production . In: Lexikon der Filmbegriffe, edited by Hans. J. Wulff and Theo Bender.
  7. Pre-production in the glossary of the German Film Academy . Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  8. Ludger Kaczmarek: Pre-production . In: Lexikon der Filmbegriffe, edited by Hans. J. Wulff and Theo Bender.
  9. ^ Ansgar Schlichter: Principal photography . In: Lexikon der Filmbegriffe, edited by Hans. J. Wulff and Theo Bender.
  10. Ansgar Schlichter: Start of shooting . In: Lexikon der Filmbegriffe, edited by Hans. J. Wulff and Theo Bender.
  11. Daniel Möhle: location . In: Lexikon der Filmbegriffe, edited by Hans. J. Wulff and Theo Bender.
  12. ^ Hans Jürgen Wulff: On location . In: Lexikon der Filmbegriffe, edited by Hans. J. Wulff and Theo Bender.
  13. ↑ Shooting schedule ( memento from April 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) in the glossary of the German Film Academy . Last changed on October 15, 2008.
  14. Ansgar Schlichter: Shooting time . In: Lexikon der Filmbegriffe, edited by Hans. J. Wulff and Theo Bender.
  15. Ansgar Schlichter: Shooting days . In: Lexikon der Filmbegriffe, edited by Hans. J. Wulff and Theo Bender.