We have taken a short excursion to find out what it takes to construct a movie script and then produce it into the final product of a movie. We did not discuss acting and movie stars in this book. Many people will say they get excited about a movie if a particular movie personality is in the movie. But do you? Is that the only reason you go to the movies, or is it a combination of the different elements that we have discussed? If it is only because of a movie star that you go to the movies, you would not have read this textbook. Historically, from a personal novice viewpoint, fans of a particular movie star will stop going to the movies to see this star, if the star has a bad string of movies in a row.
We hope that this brief discussion of movie analysis has proved beneficial. From going through this textbook, you should have a better understanding, so you can absorb everything that you watch, noticing more than ever before in order to get the most out of a movie. So keeping that in mind, what conclusions do you have regarding the construction and production of a movie that can answer the burning question, “What’s so exciting about certain movies that continually draw people to them?”
The excitement is a combination of the creativity and originality of the theme, genre, narrative structure, character portrayal, directing, cinematography, editing, and sound. But there is a huge process that has to be done to arrive at the aforementioned right combination of creativity and originality. The whole process is exciting because of what is involved.
The movie begins with a thought or idea by a producer or suggested to a producer by a writer or somebody else. If the producer likes the thought or idea, then the potential movie goes through a five-step process before it is complete and reaches the viewer.
The first step is Development. The Development consists of legally protecting the idea, expanding the idea, writing and re-writing the script based on the idea, creating a budget, and garnering the funds to make the movie.
The Development or Construction step, which was discussed in the first four chapters, is characterized by the following advancements to the movie:
- The theme gives purpose to the movie.
- The genre categorizes the movie but also indirectly shapes the characters and story, establishes the setting, and determines the plot.
- The characters are expanded in order to act within the narrative structure of the story and plot.
- The characters and their actions are further defined by their physiology, psychology, and sociology.
The second step is pre-production. Pre-production consists of preparing a budget for each of the phases; hiring the director and directing staff; hiring the actors and all of the people in the different departments, such as cinematographers, audio mixers, lighting technicians, etc.; preparing the script; and scheduling. The director prepares the script by changing the words into visual shots and scenes.
The third step is production. The production step is the cinematography and audio. This includes the actors, set, lighting, and blocking. The director, as the chief creative person for the movie, oversees this step.
The fourth step is post-production. The post-production stage includes the film score, sound design (including sound effects), and editing.
The fifth step is distribution and marketing. The distribution and marketing are what makes or breaks a movie. How well the movie is marketed determines how many theatre chains and independent theatres will want to show it. The different theatres that want to show the movie will determine how you, as the viewer, will be able to watch, enjoy, and get excited by it.
The preceding is a general example of the process and what happens in each of the steps. It is not all inclusive regarding what truly occurs in each of the steps. The process involves hundreds of people, and it takes several months—possible years—to complete the process.
For this textbook, we concentrated on the middle three steps. These three steps are the exciting heart of the movie and of what most movie viewers are aware. Probably an extreme amount of ideas never make it to the five-step process. Other ideas will only reach a certain step and the whole process will not be complete.
The biggest challenge, though, is knowing the right combination to make a movie successful. This is something that does not have a foolproof plan or formula and will always be a challenge to determine and a chance has to be taken. The right combination of all of these elements makes movies interesting and people will go to see these movies all of the time.
Be a detective and be analytical when watching a movie, or you miss too much, because a lot goes into it, and you can see if it is in the right combination.
With the completion of this chapter, movies to watch that that are excellent examples of well-produced movies and are the American Film Institute’s choices for the best movie of their type:
- City Lights, 1931, directed by Charles Chaplin, starring Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, and Florence Lee. This movie is considered the number one comedy.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937, directed by William Cottrell, sequence director; David Hand, supervising director; Wilfred Jackson, sequence director; Larry Morey, sequence director; and Perce Pearce, sequence director, starring the voices of Adriana Caselotti, Harry Stockwell, and Lucille La Verne. This movie is considered the number one animated feature film.
- The Searchers, 1956, directed by John Ford, starring John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, and Vera Miles. This movie is considered the number one Western.
- Vertigo, 1958, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart, Kim Novak, and Barbara Bel Geddes. This movie is considered the number one mystery.
- Raging Bull, 1962, directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, and Joe Pesci. This movie is considered the number one sports film.