How Long Does It Take to Shoot a Film: Exploring the World of Filmmaking

How Long Does It Take to Shoot a Film: Exploring the World of Filmmaking

There’s one big question behind every movie: how long does it take to shoot a film? From blockbuster titles that become household names to movies that might only take up an hour of your time, there’s a varying level of work that needs to go into every cinematic piece.

Some take longer than others, and there are plenty of films that can be completed in a few months, especially those shot by amateur directors and cinematographers. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, learning how long it takes to shoot a film will give you an idea of what really goes into the great movies on the big screen.

The Idea of Hurrying Up and Waiting

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on when it comes to shooting a film, it’s that it’s a lot of hurrying up and waiting. You’ll get incredibly excited about getting your idea captured perfectly, but then once you review the imagery, you might find that particular scenes are missing, or there’s a lot of work that needs to go into post-production. Many directors even require their actors to take up to 20 takes of the same scene in an effort to capture the perfect emotions.

No matter how you look at it, shooting a film is a lengthy process.

How Long Does it Take to Shoot a Film: The Process

There are plenty of similarities between big and low budget films when it comes to the actual filming. Yes, bigger movies have a lot of money to throw around whereas smaller movies are working on a tight budget, but the same amount of effort needs to go into every scene in an effort to make it beautiful and captivating.

Step 1: The Development (Up to Three Years)

The first part of making a movie is to develop and write an idea, which is typically the job of a screenplay writer or an author. You’re going to need to take an idea and transform it into a script that can be read by actors and understood by directors. There’s the need for explaining particular scenes, the emotions you want to capture, and how certain words need to be accentuated to make a specific point.

Overall, there’s a lot that needs to go into the development phase, and this is all before you actually get your hands on a camera. Without a sufficient amount of planning, you’re going to be in a situation where you will have to literally explain the film every step of the way and your actors/actresses are going to find it difficult to get into their roles.

Step 2: Pre-Production (Up to Two Years)

Aside from the development, the pre-production is also an important part of making a film as it lays the groundwork for what will be transmitted onto the screen. You’re going to need to take things such as scouting locations, producing production boards, getting the right permits, setting a budget, and hiring your film crew into account. There’s also the importance of hiring makeup and costume designers, hiring caterers, finding transportation, casting all of your actors, and hosting rehearsals.

If you’re able to dedicate a lot of time to your movie and sacrifice every other part of your personal life, you might be able to get the pre-production done in as little as one year, but in many situations, filmmakers can spend up to two years preparing.

Step 3: Shooting the Film (Up to a Year)

Depending on the size of your movie and how you intend on shooting it, it can take up to a year to shoot the entire piece. You’ll have to consider travel time, the schedules of all of your actors, and the amount of time it will take to set up scenes in all of your chosen locations. Arguably one of the more creative phases of filming a movie, it’s certainly not the only creative aspect that goes into the task.

Step 4: Post-Production (Up to a Year)

Easily one of the most important phases when thinking, how long does it take to shoot a film, post-production is what transforms all of your stock footage into a feature-length movie. This is also where you’re going to find the most mistakes that might force you to go through hours and hours of film in an effort to find better takes that you can use.

Post-production is when any holes in the script are addressed and filled, any issues with the cinematography are addressed, and more. If you intend on producing a film that is going to require special effects or any type of film enhancement, it will also take place during post-production, including adding to the ambiance of a background, dubbing, editing, enhancing sounds and colors, and more.

Post-production is where you’re going to have to rely on highly trained professionals who know the ins and outs of making a film, as it is their job to make sure all of your stock films are transformed into something beautiful, amazing, and jaw-dropping.

Step 5: Distribution (Three to Six Months)

Take a few moments to think about what it would be like if you dedicated an ample amount of time and money to a movie only for it to never be seen by an audience. This is where distribution comes into play as it will determine how many people watch your film and you can either choose to distribute on your own or hire an outside firm. Even with the distribution, you’re looking at more than hosting a premiere at your home; you’ll need to think about packaging as well.

The Average Time Spent Shooting a Film

When added up, you can spend up to seven and a half years shooting a film, though that includes an ample amount of overestimating. On average, beginner filmmakers can produce an entire movie within a year whereas those with a bigger budget might spend up to four years creating a film, including producing a script.

At the end of the day, you must be prepared to dedicate a substantial amount of time to the task if you really want to make an impact on the world of cinematography.