The Script

The core development team, composed of the director, the producer and the development manager, will be responsible for bringing the story together. This is the first focus for any project. Before budgets can be set and small details planned out, the project must have at least a first draft of a shooting script. When collaborators get attached to the story it will go through multiple rewrites, but the core idea of the story will remain throughout the length of the project. This basic story will be set by a review and comment process vital to creating a successful picture.

How to Produce a Film Preparing for the PictureThe director may also be a key part of the writing process, especially in the first drafts leading up to the shooting script. However, multi-writer projects are often the most typical setup. This helps to stay on schedule and create a strong script. The first draft should be completed before the producer and director begin casting.

Choosing Lead Cast

Before choosing the director, the producer and development manager will have already prepared a list for the proposed lead cast. After the director comes on board, a final list of lead actors being considered can be prepared. Agents and managers for these actors will then be contacted to confirm price and availability.

The lead selection is similar to the director selection. Distributors are contacted and the responses are considered to create a priority list for the actors in consideration. Once the actors are approached, the negotiation can begin. Paid trade announcements and press release are sent out once the negotiation is complete.

Physical Production Preparation

After the first draft of a shooting script is complete, the preparation of the physical production begins. The first step is to attach a line producer or UPM to the project. They are responsible for creating schedules, breakdowns and budgets for the production. Department heads with decision-making powers in the production will study these materials, along with the script to help make their decisions.

The advisory and management teams will be responsible for choosing these department heads recommending them to the director and producer. The director will make the final decision on who will be attached to the picture. After this, physical production can proceed with the rest of the cast being hired and continual script drafts created.

Marketing Materials

All talent attached to the picture will bring with them representative reels. Film commissions can also provide reels for the picture’s locations in many instances. These reels and other materials are essential for creating the presentations a project needs for festival and marketing meetings to be presented to distributors.

Bank Financing Facility Preparation

Along with the normal advisory meetings, at least two additional meetings for the picture plans should be scheduled before placing and lending or bonding requests with a financial institution. The bank for the production company will have the collateralized production funding and bonding set up through the team’s bond and financial advisors. They will also receive update throughout the production process.

Anywhere between nine months and a year can pass between the time the story is acquired and the placement of the loan request with the bank. The team will recognize who the most aggressive distributors for the project will be during this time. Shifts in the overall economy can also take place during this time, making it important for the global rights a manager to revise the sales breakdown of a picture on a monthly basis, plus another revision just before the finance presentation is given for the analysis of the bank loan.

The bank loan analysis is then presented to the management committee. Once the committee approved, a bank loan memorandum and bond memorandum will be prepared by the finance vice president. These documents are important because they require contingent commitment from all participants.

Territory Distribution Agreement for Primary Release

If the release will take place primarily in the United States, this agreement usually takes place with a strong indie, mini-major or major distributor. The agreements will determine how all other earnings, rights and relationships are handled with the picture. Good distributors know how to negotiate and also know the value of a picture and will prefer to have all global rights if they like the project.

To get the best deal, it is important to check out all of the distribution competitors in each territory. A range of distribution configurations are typically available. However, U.S. theatrical distribution rights can be tricky. Most U.S. theatrical release agreements will also want to acquire all home entertainment rights, which are usually the rights with the greatest potential for earnings. The closing time between theatrical release and home entertainment rights is close, so many distributors like to bundle these rights.

These negotiations for rights can change over time. Some distributors will be more aggressive in getting all of the rights bundled together, making the process much more competitive between distributors in individual territories. The producer needs to analyze all of the costs against the relationship and decide the best course of action with the help of the advisory and executive teams.


Presales are a challenging part of any production. The agreements though can be achievable due to the amount of data available to project earnings potential. Once the consumer press has begun, the picture is probably a familiar name with trade participants in major territories. International distributors will be interested in creating relationships with the picture, so it is up to the producer to prepare and present any licensing opportunities.

The presentation meeting will allow the producer to provide recent progress, bank information and bond information. Then the distribution and licensing rights are presented. Agreements will be presented, and in order for the picture to get a presale, a producer can offer discounts to the advance. The offer will only be made to distributors that are part of the presale plan.

Completion Bond and Production Bank Loan

A completion bond is necessary in order to get a bank loan. The producer formally requests the bond as soon as presale documentation is secured. The request is made in writing with a recent copy of the script, budget and other supporting documentation. The guarantor’s legal counsel is responsible for structuring the lending bank, equity and other collateral. Once the agreement is complete, cash flow will be available. This process typically takes eight to twelve weeks.

The completion bond and collateral are then presented to the bank to acquire a production loan. The producer will then form a single-picture entity for the project to work as a subsidiary of the production company. Once the loan’s line of credit is available, the company can make advances to the producing company. The expenses from this line of credit will include the producing company buying the title, rights and interest of the project.

The Final Pre-production

The producer has many jobs to complete during final pre-production. They will support and participate with the director up until the principal photography wraps. They will also prepare the novelization relationship of the project with a publisher. After that, they will continue to create and manage and tie-in product placement. The final preproduction job of the producer is to help prepare public relations releases and advertising for the picture.