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5 Stages of Film Production

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

Film produciton Companies in South Africa

There are five stages of film production and they include development, pre-production, production, post-production and distribution. Understanding the different stages, what is involved at each stage and the filmmaking process is key to success in the filmmaking industry. RAD Productions Film will break these stages up for you.

The 5 Stages:

1. Development




5. Distribution

Stage 1: Development

Have you ever heard the phrase “my film is in development?”

Many of us might be super impressed by this statement but at this stage, nothing is made or decided. Everything is still just an idea that is being considered, planned and thought out.

At this point, the following should be achieved:

  • The film idea or movie concept is well-formed and thought out.

  • The script is complete.

  • An idea for the total film budget should be evaluated and ideally confirmed.

  • Initial casting may be done to evaluate potential talent.

  • Locations are confirmed

This is a very tentative stage of film production companies in South Africa. Making a film can be a big endeavour. You will be working with a large group of people and need to organise people well and not mess them around or you will lose your leading cast and key crew before the camera gets turned on!

Before taking on any big project, assess and evaluate. This is what the development stage is really about – ask yourself, is it:

  • A good idea?

  • Can it be made?

  • Where can it be made?

  • How much will it cost?

  • How long will it take?

From this stage, once the film is fully developed there is the opportunity to approach a film studio or investor for financial support.

Stage 2: Pre-Production

This is a critical phase of filmmaking that often gets overlooked. At this stage, you have the preliminary go-ahead to make your movie. Now is the time to expand the points raised in stage 1 and ensure you are on top of things.

You need to start thinking more like a Project Manager and less like a filmmaker at this point. It is time to ask the following questions?

  • Can we get permits to shoot at the selected locations?

  • What cast is available

  • What is our confirmed budget?

  • What crew is available?

  • What sets and wardrobe do we need?

  • What contingencies do we have if we can’t shoot in a certain location?

This stage is about the details and answering the questions raised in stage one but with more detail and final answers.

Stage 3: Production

This is the fun bit and what we all identify with as filmmakers. In a nutshell, this is the filmmaking stage when the cameras are rolling.

Having a good plan in place from stage 1 & stage 2 of the filmmaking process can really help the production phase go smoothly.

It is critical for the production to go smoothly and for directors, crew and cast to all get along and know exactly what they are doing. This is both true for multi-million pound productions and local indie films. If your production goes smoothly, your cast and crew will return and propel your career.

Stage 4: Post Production

This is the stage where a film can soar or tank. At this critical stage, the footage is edited, special effects added, the sound design in corporated and music scores composed.

Editing is often overlooked but is essential to the film pace and storytelling. Typically as a music composer for film, this is the stage at which I will get called upon and often receive raw footage to score music too.

It is a key stage as it brings all the creative elements together from directing, acting, filming, storytelling and more and creates a finished product that is the accumulation of months of hard work and sweat.

Stage 5: Distribution

After all this hard work, you will want the world to see your creative media creation. Distribution of indie films, in particular, is a widely discussed topic as there are many routes to finding your audience.

In a nutshell, the quality of your distribution will impact the financial return on investment.

Film festivals are one of the better ways to reach an audience as they can draw attention to your work from the professional filmmaking community and true film critics.

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