Making a Movie


The process of making a movie involves four distinct stages that are interrelated. The first is pre-production followed by filming then filming and finally promotion. The entire process is very costly sometimes running into hundreds of millions of dollars. In many cases, the financial input gets replicated in success that accompanies it into the market. However, sometimes even after spending huge sum of money, the movie may be a flop. On the other hand, low-cost movies with no big names and a small budget may be a hit in the market. For example, in the year 2007, the average cost of producing a Hollywood movie was $106 million.

Each of these distinct stages requires the input of a professional for success to be realized. A big money movie in itself may be a marketing tool. Many will want to participate in the initial stages and watch such a high-cost movie thus bringing an instantaneous success. The last stage of marketing essentially has a different budget from the rest of the stages. It is so crucial that a worthy and professional input is necessary. A rule of thumb is that the advertising should cost half of all the costs from the beginning. It implies that if the pre-production to post-production costs $200 million, the marketing costs should be $100 million. However, there have been exceptions that have had resounding success.


In a case where the movie is to be adopted from a book or a novel, there are costs of getting the story rights from the owner of the book. That is because the intellectual property rights guard his book, and necessary costs have to be incurred. It may cost up to millions of dollars. The next stage is to enlist the services of a reputable screenwriter to convert the novel into a movie. He has the task to write the script that will form the background of the movie. Professional and reputable screenwriters will demand seven figure salaries. If he has to rewrite according to the taste of the owner, there will have to be additional charges. Enlisting the services of a good producer is another crucial task. A good producer already helps to market the movie before it hits the market. They will also demand a fortune to the tune of millions of dollars. A case in point is the production of ‘Spiderman’ where the producer earned $30 million.

In order to have a quality movie, the film director has to be experienced in the work. Past success with other movies will give anyone an upper hand for future work. Additionally, they spend all the period of shooting with the crew and cast members. Their pay is hundreds of thousands of dollars per week. On average, the period may be ten weeks. It may range anywhere between five and ten million dollars per film.


Cast involves the actual people who will appear on the screen. Proper auditions have to take place in order to pick up people who can easily replicate their roles according to the storyline. Big name and famous actors are very expensive, but they also give the movie huge publicity that is necessary for the market. Those who have had success with other movies should be considered for starring roles. They may demand so much, up to $20 million per movie. However, a movie may still be a flop even with superstar names. Such was the case in ‘Land of the Lost’. It is possible to enter an agreement with the superstar for a share of the profits based on the DVD sales after the release. Such arrangements are usually more expensive and may lead to lawsuits if not handled properly. The rest of the cast members usually receive a flat rate of $2000 per week. Depending on the period of the shooting and their number, it may run to millions.

The production costs involve meeting the entire expenses of the filming. These include transportation, accommodation, catering, and costumes among other costs. In case the filming is to happen at night, there has to be a special allowance for the night in addition to the extra cost of powerful cameras and lights.

Post Production

Visual effects are the special pictures generated by the computer to add taste to the movie. The cost depends on the quality and extent. These may cost up to $100 million. There is also the music that is supposed to accompany the movie in the various scenes. Some song producers may write an original song for a given movie. These are very expensive running into millions of dollars depending on the public image of the singer. A song that is already in existence may also be used at a cost to the owner.


The success or failure of a movie is usually determined in the first week of its launch. Consequently, there has to be a massive promotion to make it an instant hit. There have to be billboards, TV ads, online marketing among other things. Using influential personalities may help to give the movie a public boost. The other cost is that of distribution of the movies.


There are various ways to cut down the costs involved in producing a movie. These may entail using unknown persons, shooting in remote places among others. However, in order to have quality and sellable movies, some important costs have to be incurred. These usually push high the costs of production.


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–  Donna Brians


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