James Velissaris, Founder of Finch Fortress Films, Explain What a Production Company Does to Bring Movie Ideas to Life07/04/2022
James Velissaris provides an insider’s view of what happens behind the scenes when a production company begins a new film.
A career in Hollywood attracts people from all backgrounds and with a wide range of talents and abilities. James Velissaris, founder of Finch Fortress Films, often fields questions from people interested in breaking into the business.
In particular, entertainment-oriented individuals are curious about what a production company does to take an idea and shepherd it through the process of turning it into a movie.
James Velissaris on the Efforts that Movie Producers Make to Bring Images to the Screen
Eager audiences sit waiting in the dark, in movie theaters or the comfort of their home entertainment room. Before a movie can appear on a theater screen or on a home’s display, much work has to transpire behind the scenes.
Getting Started on a New Movie
Movies begin with an idea. It may come from a writer or an actor has been inspired to play a role and works with a writer to flesh out the idea. Sometimes, a production team will originate the idea, or a film director has a concept he or she is eager to bring to life.
James Velissaris notes that you can’t really prepare for a film until you have a good idea of what the story will be about. This means a writer (or team of writers) will need to solidify an outline for the story and then write the first draft of the screenplay. It will go through many iterations until the story works well and can translate into a motion picture.
With a screenplay in hand, the producers have more information about the people they need to hire, including how many actors will be involved. Going through the script, the production team makes a list of the locations and sets where the acting will take place.
This can involve looking in databases for ideas about where to shoot the scenes or going out to scout locations in person for a better look at the possibilities.
The World of Hollywood Make-Believe Requires Logistics and Excellent Planning
A production company must have staff with plenty of experience in planning and logistics, as noted by a report from The Film Fund.
No movie can get off the ground if the producers aren’t paying close attention to issues such as staying on time (shooting the minimum amount of script pages each day) and remaining within budget.
Of course, a lot of logistics and advanced planning are needed. For example, the producers must have a backup plan if their outdoors scenes are interrupted by a rainstorm, and they’ll need to have an interior location to shoot at instead.
Main Tasks of Production Companies
While polishing the script and finding locations, the producers will also need to take care of a lengthy checklist of tasks, including:
- Casting actors: This includes putting out calls to agents and looking at new actors’ reels to see if they are up to the part. Oftentimes, producers will do test shots to see if two actors have good chemistry together.
- Hire the crew: You need a cinematographer as well as lighting and sound professionals. The property department is in charge of buying and building props used by actors. Then there are workers who build and paint sets.
- Editing, sound, and special effects: After the principle shooting has finished, editors will be arranging clips of scenes into a coherent movie. Meanwhile, the sound team is editing the dialog and other sounds. And if the film requires special effects, computer graphics professionals will become involved, adding their images to the mix.
- Composer: Composing a soundtrack for the movie occurs when it has reached the end of the editing process since the composer needs to know precisely how long specific passages of music need to play.
- Publicity and Marketing
- Arranging for Distribution: If it’s destined to be a major blockbuster, the film may be released for wide distribution all across the country. For more “artistic” films with a potentially smaller audience, there might be just a few theaters on the East and West coast initially, with more theaters coming online as interest grows (hopefully from good reviews).
But you have to be prepared for contingencies. For example, the coronavirus pandemic shuttered movie theaters causing producers to scramble and arrange for movies to be released through streaming services such as Netflix, as noted by Variety.
Grace Under Fire
James Velissaris wants to underscore the idea that while film production is a difficult job that requires long hours, the end result makes it worthwhile. Successful producers know how to retain their grace while under fire.
From the chaos and complicated logistics involved in working with a large cast and crew, dealing with huge amounts of movie equipment that must be transported and set up at each location, and the need to address the creature comforts of each person on set (food and shelter), there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of.
But that’s part of what makes film production such a rewarding and enjoyable career for those who truly love the art of bringing movies to life from mere ideas.