Principal Photography

The principal photography of a picture starts with accommodations for the primary location. These accommodations are made for the production guests, brand participants and trade press. Invitations will have been sent prior to allow the arrangements to be made.

Production and PostDuring this time, the producer is reviewing all of the dailies, consulting with the director on the creative progress of the project and informing the director about the marketing side of the project. The producer is also present on location for the shoot with the postproduction team.

Once the photography is underway, the initial press release and trade press announcements are sent out into all of the major global territories. The marketing reel will also expand with a teaser trailer that can be released to distributors.


The director is in charge of supervising postproduction. The process begins soon after the principal photography begins. Assemblies will be sent to the director to review and digital postproduction will correct and changes needed. The producer’s roll in postproduction is to supervise ads and trailers produced in house. They will also prepare audience testing with two or three different versions of the trailer and up to five versions of television commercials. Audience testing may also be used to fine tune or change the picture’s title.

Theatrical Release Branding

Branding is the key to determine the total and after-theatrical release audience and earnings per territory. While theatrical gross is an important number, true success of a picture is also determined by the effectiveness of a picture’s campaign, frequency of media buys and brand tie-ins reaching their target audiences. Internet buzz and word on the street are also important factors for success. Box office grosses can be affected by a variety of things, including sporting events, weather or overwhelming national news.

The producer is the busiest during postproduction and pre-theatrical release. This is why audience reactions can be strong indicators of how well the content goes over. The producer will be looking at all of this to put the picture’s strongest ads and trailers out to the public prior to release.

When the final theatrical campaign begins, tie-in branding partner will have their commercials airing and the picture’s novels should have already been in place at retail checkout stands.

The week of the opening, the public relations and advertising departments for the distributors will be beginning to release strategies that they have previously prepared. A variety of releases will happen, some of which include Internet stories, photos, segments and celebrity entertainment spots on news programs. Every promotion available will be used to promote the picture during this time before the release to ensure commercial success.

Ancillary Markets and Global Territories

Special screenings are available for  distributors to pre-purchase once the picture is completed. This will complete the cycle of discovery, production and bringing the project to the market. A checklist of the most important items in the development and product process looks like this:

  • Find the story
  • Plan for operations, forecasts and funding
  • Assemble a team
  • Create investment documents
  • Present and negotiate with company investors
  • Continue establishing investor communications
  • Create the development plan
  • Review the story
  • Evaluate criteria to determine the feasibility of the project
  • Configure initial financing based on programs, actor, director and major vendor profit participation
  • Complete picture development pre-director
  • Attach a director
  • Create the first draft shooting script
  • Attach lead cast members
  • Prepare for physical production
  • Prepare for bank financing
  • Mature the marketing materials
  • Enter into a production incentive program
  • Engage the completion bond and bank loan
  • Wrap up final preproduction
  • Start principal photography
  • Perform postproduction
  • Guide the picture’s global branding
  • Sell into all remaining markets and territories

Team organization and preparation are important to establish before development or production is completed on the picture. There are many steps to take an initial idea of project to completion, but with some critical checks and balances throughout the process, each small goal can be met to create a successful picture.