Lights, Camera, Blockbuster by@newsletters

Lights, Camera, Blockbuster

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Film and video production is an industry that’s more associated with artistic freedom rather than rigid control. Pre-production is an activity-intensive stage filled with planning and hassle. Post-production overlaps with the previous stage, as the footage is gathered from day one. The final stage is when the crew dismantles the set, edits the footage, and adds visual effects. Afterwards, the movie sees the light of the day and is ready to be distributed to streaming services and such.

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Forget celebrities, it’s project managers who steal the show.

Today, we’ll take a look behind the scenes of Hollywood and find out what it takes to create a hit film or series.

Film and video production is an industry that’s more associated with artistic freedom rather than rigid control. However, just like any IT project, filmmaking needs time and care to be put into its planning.

With limited budgeting, time, and high stakes– as literally any other serious project would have it—no one wants to flush money down the toilet because of inconsistent management.

Film Lifecycle

There is quite a long and complicated process to be carried out between the first lines of a script and the airing of the final product on Netflix.

Remember the Waterfall life cycle? Film production has a similar workflow.

1. Development

This is when ideas for cinematic masterpieces like Star Wars and the Matrix are explored.

The time it takes to complete massive projects like this can vary. But it usually starts with multiple script drafts or with a Director and/or Writer pitching an idea to a Producer.

2. Pre-Production

This is the step where all the ‘fun' stuff happens. Pre-production is an activity-intensive stage filled with planning and hassle.

It’s where scripts are amended, budgets are determined, the cast is assigned, locations scouted - the list goes on. Overall, the pre-production stage involves everything that’s between the initial envisioning of a project to when cameras roll.

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Today, Star Wars has achieved an unbelievable level of recognition in popular culture. But what you may not have heard about is when Libya mistook George Lucas’ Sandcrawler as an army vehicle and the Tunisian government asked them to move it away from the border because of the threatened military action.

3. Production

This is when the rubber meets the road and far-fetched ideas take shape. During production, the film crew needs to finalize everything before the cameras roll. It usually refers to more planning, budgeting, and prepping everything.

Jim Carrey was once trained to endure torture by the CIA so he could withstand the 8-hour makeup process for his role in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

In another ‘fascinating’ set of events, during the filming of the Titanic, the crew had to be rushed to hospital at 1AM after eating PCP-infused clam chowder.

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4. Principal Photography

The principal photography stage is when the shooting begins. All the hard work done beforehand is aimed to ensure that the transition of ‘thought to on-camera action’ is smooth.

Usually, this phase guzzles up most of the budget and time because of the salaries owed to the actor, director, and set crew. Communication is key during the shoot so that the production remains on time and on budget.

Sounds familiar, right? It reminds us of IT project managers planning, organizing, and budgeting unique IT goals.

In a magic trick scene during the Now You See Me production, Isla Fisher almost drowned due to a costume malfunction.

5. Post-production and Wrap

This is the period that occurs after the shooting ends or is still going. Thus, post-production overlaps with the previous stage, as the footage is gathered from day one.

(If you saw a rough cut of a special effects-heavy action movie with no post-production, you’d feel like you were watching an incomplete product). So, during the final stage, the crew dismantles the set, edits the footage, and adds visual effects.

Afterwards, the movie sees the light of the day and is ready to be distributed to streaming services and such.

On the set of Apocalypse Now, police showed up and took everyone’s passports. This was because the crew purchased un-identified bodies from a grave robber, and they couldn’t prove that they didn’t kill the people to whom the bodies belonged to.

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May the Force Be With You

Detailed deconstruction of each scene, thought-out processes, and accurate budgeting call for outstanding project management skills. That is why the filmmaking industry provides a unique perspective for the study of project management.

Read more about crazy filming stories here.

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Credit for the above piece goes to Tatsiana Isakova, Hang Ngo, and Ellen Stevens.

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