Stages of Production

There are generally five stages of production:

Development – the period where a project is begun. It can include development of the story idea, the writing of a script, assembly of the key creative team and/or the building of the financial plan/players. This stage typically lasts a number of years*.

Pre-production (commonly known as “Prep”) – the period where the project/production begins to hire the crew, opens a production office and prepares to shoot the project. This stage usually lasts 3 – 8 weeks*.

Principal photography (commonly known as “Principal”) – the period where the project/production is filmed. The amount of time this takes depends on the size of the project. The shooting can take place on location or in a studio. A full-length feature film can take up to 3 months to shoot while a half-hour television series episode can take as little as 4 days. Principal photography typically lasts 4 – 10 weeks*.

Post-production (commonly known as “Post”) – the period where the project/production is edited for both picture and sound. Music and visual effects are also composed during this time and added to the film. Marketing and publicity materials are generated. This period can last from 4 – 12 weeks*.

Distribution – the period where the project/production is distributed and/or sold. This period usually lasts 6 – 12 months*.

* All times are approximate. Times vary widely depending on many circumstances, including genre, length of the final product and budget.


Who’s involved?

  • Producer, Writer and sometimes Director
  • Studio/Network/Broadcaster
  • Financial Backers or Investors
  • Entertainment Lawyers
  • Casting Agents
  • Locations Managers

What happens?

  • Writer is contracted by Producer(s) to write a treatment and/or script.
  • Writer writes and refines the script in consultation with Producer(s), Director and
  • Producer(s) secure(s) project’s finances.
  • Budget and schedule are approximated.


Who’s involved?

  • Production Office Staff
  • 1st Assistant Director (1st AD)
  • Casting Agent/Casting Director
  • Heads of the technical departments (known as Department Keys)
    What happens?
  • Casting begins
  • Script rewrites
  • Establishing and opening a Production Office
  • Location and Technical scouting
  • Hiring of crew
  • Constructing set(s)
  • Co-ordinating transportation requirements, selecting props and co-ordinating costumes
  • Production Manager establishes the budget
  • Production Schedule is solidified by the 1st AD

Principal Photography

Who’s involved?

  • Producer(s)
  • Director
  • Studio/Network/Broadcaster
  • All Departments
  • All Performers and Extras

What happens?

  • The project is shot. (The shooting of a film is only one part of the process. When the shooting stops, there is still much work for the creative team to do.)
  • Publicity materials are generated.


Who’s involved?

  • Producer(s)
  • Director
  • Studio/Network/Broadcaster
  • Post Production Supervisor
  • Picture Editors
  • Sound Editor, Foley Artist
  • Music Supervisor and Composer
  • Film Processing Labs
  • Marketing and Distribution

What happens?

  • Film is edited
  • Music is composed and added to film
  • Sound is edited
  • Visual effects are generated
  • Film is prepared for Distribution
  • Marketing and promotional materials are developed and produced


Who’s involved?

  • Producer(s)
  • Distribution Companies
  • Entertainment Lawyers
  • Studios/Networks/Broadcasters
  • Theatres
  • Film Festivals
  • Film Commissions
  • Publicists
  • Media

What happens?

  • Subtitles for international release are generated
  • Performers’ contract terms are enforced
  • Continued production of promotional/marketing materials (trailers, advertising, merchandising and posters)
  • Completion of commitments to investors and rights holders