Pre-Production

The motto of production should be "expect the unexpected." Motion picture production is a team sport, with a lot of organized chaos. Whatever the analogy, filmmaking is truly a collaborative effort, bringing an assortment of talented people together. Typically, a film takes about a year to complete, from pre-production to final print. As with any collaboration, production offers its own challenges and unexpected detours. The script development phase can take years and a film budget can range from $1 million to $100 million, but the basics of filmmaking never change. What follows is a general overview of the filmmaking process.
One project out of hundreds in development is "green-lit" to actually be made. The project has a director and producers. The script is undergoing final revisions.The actors are being cast. Before filming begins, pre-production is a busy and crucial time for the whole crew. From computer animation to set construction to make-up effects, as much "prep" work as possible must be done before filming begins.
All key department heads (production designer, cinematographer, visual effects supervisor, location manager, costume designer, first assistant director or A.D., and auditor) are hired and work with the director and producers to determine what the filming schedule will be, where the film will be shot and how it will look. The director handles creative decisions about casting, the script and the film’s visual style, and the producers deal with some creative issues as well as the budget and schedule, hiring key personnel, choosing locations and troubleshooting daily problems.
The line producer and unit production manager (UPM) handle the nuts and bolts of the administrative duties, such as hiring the crew and production office staff, overseeing equipment rentals, and creating the budget. A general production meeting is held toward the end of pre-production to discuss the logistics of shooting and to give the crew an opportunity to resolve any outstanding issues.

Erich Von Stroheim is surrounded by organized chaos on the set.

Michael Mann and the Steadicam® crew on the set of ALI.