Filmmaking is a team effort – Collaboration is key to success!
While some actors have said that acting is a lonely experience; on the other hand, filmmaking is a team effort, where collaboration is key to success.
At 3 Peepul, we revel in the creative process of filmmaking, as we bring a varied palette of films to you, our audience. Having committed to producing a wide genre of films, we find ourselves working with cross-cultural teams in India, UK and US on different projects simultaneously. Functioning like a startup, we choose to work in small teams, with each team member donning multiple hats with ease and performing their roles to perfection.
Irrespective of team size, the reality is that teamwork, communication, coordination and collaboration remain essential ingredients in the formula for successfully making films, big or small. Rarely is filmmaking a solo journey, where the filmmaker is a one-person army. Films usually need a team of professionals and crew at various stages of the process, but certain roles are critical in a film, requiring the right people at the helm.
This person or company essentially drives the project at hand and is responsible for managing the production from start to finish. The producer develops the project from the initial idea, makes sure the script is finalized, arranges the financing and manages the production team that makes the film.
The producer also coordinates the filmmaking process to ensure that everyone involved in the project is working on schedule and on budget, ensuring the safety and well-being of all concerned, and that financial, legal and HR responsibilities are suitably met. Once the film is made, it is the producer’s responsibility to plan for its distribution, marketing and publicity, to ensure the film reaches the audience and is profitable. Of course, if a film underperforms or fails at the box office, the loss may also have to be borne by the producer/s.
Simply put, without the production company and producer/s at the helm, films cannot and do not get made.
The director is primarily responsible for overseeing the shooting and assembly of a film, ensuring the vision is translated effectively on screen. The director may have a story and then approaches a production company to make it into a film. Or the production company may have an idea, or script, and hires the director who will make it into a film.
While the director might be considered as a film’s primary visionary, he or she wouldn’t be able to make the film without collaborating with innumerable artists and technicians. In fact, the notion of the director as an author is misleading because it assumes the director, like an author, does everything. In reality, the director works at the center of film production and is inextricably linked with the production company, and with many other people, who get the job done together.
The director is usually assisted by (a team of) assistant directors, or ADs as they are called, who aid the director on and off sets. They are also the point of contact for the cast and crew, when the director is unavailable.
While the dialogues in a film may seem natural to the viewer, a writer deliberately crafts it, converting an idea or story into a screenplay. The screenwriter does far more than just provide dialogues for the actors. He or she also shapes the sequence of events in a film to ensure that one scene transitions to the next, so the story unfolds logically and in a coherent manner.
In a large production, there may be a team of writers, though nowadays even large films rely on the services of only one or two writers.
Like the producer, the screenwriter’s role is generally overlooked by the viewer, yet it’s essential to the film. Without a script, there is no movie. Of course, the hallmark of a good film is a great story and script at its core.
The production designer is the first artist to translate the script into visual form, even before the shooting begins. He or she creates a series of storyboards that serve as the film’s first draft.
A storyboard is a series of sketches on panels that shows the visual progression of the story from one scene to the next. Creating the visual story of the film on a storyboard also ensures the visual continuity of the film from start to finish. Storyboards serve as the director’s visual guide throughout the production and it becomes a template to follow during the editing process.
The art director is responsible for the film’s settings, like the buildings, landscapes and interiors, that provide the physical context for the characters. This person is responsible for designing, creating and decorating the sets, and props in it, to make the setting believable and appropriate to the story.
Some films are shot entirely on sets, which have to be erected from scratch; others are shot on location but require some sets to be designed and created at those locales, while some films have a combination of both. The art director is responsible for the aesthetics of the sets if shooting of a scene is spread over multiple days. He or she is assisted by a large art department in big budget films.
Costumes convey a great deal about the film’s time period and the characters who wear them, including their economic status, occupation and attitude toward themselves. The costume designer focusses on visually portraying the nuances of the characters through their costumes.
In a period drama, the role of costumes is front and center, where the authenticity of the costumes and accessories becomes critical to the film’s success. For all genres of film, the costume designer works with stores for fabric and raw material sourcing, and tailors or seamstresses for creating each costume, if the same is not readily available in the market. The costume designer must collaborate with the team for jewelry, accessories, hair and make-up, to ensure the final look of the characters matches the period of the film. Assisted by a team, the designer also works with the actors for their measurements, with trials to ensure the costumes fit well. On set, during shooting, minor adjustments may be needed in the costumes for unexpected wear and tear, or to repair any wardrobe malfunctions that may occur.
Director of Photography/Cinematographer
The director of photography, or DOP, or cinematographer, as s/he is called, is responsible for capturing the script on film, and translates the vision of the director onto film. S/he is responsible for all technical decisions related to style of cinematography, cameras and equipment, lighting, and is responsible for the visual appeal of the film. When the director wants a shot to achieve certain visual or atmospheric qualities, the DOP achieves it through his or her choice of lighting, film stock and careful manipulation of the camera. This craft is referred to as Cinematography.
On set, the DOP is usually the next in command after the Director, giving instructions and ensures the film shoot is according to the plan. He or she is supported by a crew of technicians, for camera, lighting, sound and handling all the camera equipment and its accessories. During the shoot of each scene, the director and DOP see the rushes of each take, before the director decides for retake or move to the next scene. The DOP plays the most critical role in setting up the film, as s/he is solely in charge of the movie being recorded on film. The DOP is also responsible for the safety and security of all materials recorded, on hard drives and cloud storage; ensuring that multiple copies of footage are available as and when required.
Soon after shooting begins, the editor begins to organize the footage and arranges individual shots into one continuous sequence. Even in a single scene, dozens of different shots have to be chosen and assembled from hundreds of feet of film. The editor’s choices about which shots to use, and the order in which to place them, have a profound effect on the appearance of the final film.
After the film shoot is complete, the entire footage lands on the editing table for post-production, where the editor carefully reviews and decides which footage to use and which to discard. The editor may create many versions of each scene from different footage, and in conjunction with the director, s/he decides which to retain or discard.
If a film becomes too lengthy or abrupt, drags in certain places, or skips from one shot to another in a haphazard manner, blame it on the editor. The editor’s role is also critical to the success of the film, and how seamlessly the story is conveyed to the audience.
Responsible for portraying the characters and bringing them to life in a film, the actors work closely with the director and cinematographer. An actor’s role within this larger context is much more difficult than just appearing on the set and reciting lines. The actor must understand the genre, adapt to the character and absorb the essence of the role, to essay it well. Making the character believable and impactful on screen is in the hands of the actor, where the audience connects with the character or feels some emotion towards him or her.
The actor must be versatile and willing to adapt to strenuous working conditions, and portray his or her character in a variety of scenes that may not be in his or her comfort zone, acting alone or with fellow actors. He or she must be open to taking directions from the director, learn choreography for scenes, be willing to do some stunts, and work with a variety of props and people. In the case of musicals, the actor is required to also be able to sing and dance.
Despite all precautions, there are instances of actors having injured themselves, on set, when doing stunts or other sequences. There are some well-known method actors who completely immerse themselves in their character, to the extent they behave like their character even off-set, for the duration of film shooting.
End of the day, the actor has to make the character believable on screen, and the film’s success hinges on its portrayal of the characters in the story.
Music has been an integral part of movies since cinema’s earliest days in the 1890s. Music played by a live orchestra accompanied even the simplest silent films, with popular music being heard in films nowadays. Choosing the right music for film is a complex process, as music can enhance the story for the audience. Whether a narrative, drama, action film or musical, many pieces of music are required in a film.
It is the responsibility of the music director to oversee the musical requirements of the film, working closely with the music composer/s, musicians and the studio, to create unique pieces for the film. He or she has to understand different genres of music, and envision the final musical score for each piece. Whether a James Bond film or Pink Panther, Star Wars or Star Trek, the background score played at the start of the film has become so popular across the world, with orchestras playing it in their regular repertoire for concerts.
When a song or piece of music becomes a worldwide hit, little does the audience know that a team of specialists – music director, composer, musicians, songwriter, singers, and technicians, and the recording studio, were all involved in making that musical piece.
When a team comes together in the spirit of collaboration, the filmmaking process becomes more enriching, joyful and uplifting for everyone involved.
This is at the core of who we are at 3 Peepul Productions.
In the words of Hellen Keller, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do