How to Produce an Independent Feature Film

As I near the completion of my second feature film, I’ve decided to make some production notes. These notes are as much for your benefit as my own. I’ve made this list so I can learn from my mistakes and improve my future films. Sure most of these seem obvious, but I think they’re still very important.

BYRON’S FEATURE FILM CHECKLIST

  1. Study the most successful producers and directors, learn from them
  2. Write movie script
  3. Identify high and low points in script, adjust as needed
  4. Share script with close friends for peer review
  5. Storyboard script
  6. Incorporate feedback to script based on peer review
  7. Interview cast and crew
  8. Scout locations
  9. Create production schedule with deadlines for key milestones
  10. Select cast and crew
  11. Estimate budget
  12. Purchase and borrow gear
  13. Finalize film name
  14. Select film logo/image
  15. Create film website
  16. Create YouTube, Facebook, and other social media accounts
  17. Order business cards
  18. Develop strategic partnerships
  19. When recording on Canon Rebel cameras, ONLY use SD cards that are at least 80MB/s and 64GB (slower cards may freeze your camera)
  20. Commence filming
  21. Confirm all film times with interviewees at least 24 hours before filming
  22. Get Location Releases and Appearance Releases signed prior to filming any location or person
  23. Send thank you cards to all interviewees within 24 hours of filming
  24. Treat everyone in the film as a VIP
  25. Always bring a backup camera, microphone, batteries, and SD cards
  26. Rename all video and audio files IMMEDIATELY after filming, ie “003503.mov” becomes “JohnSmithTake1″. Keep each scene in a separate folder. Label all folders. ORGANIZATION IS KEY!!!
  27. Backup all movie files on at least two separate drives and store one remotely too (even if your computer crashes or your house burns down, the movie must live on!)
  28. Release 1st draft of movie trailer online
  29. Update website throughout production process to build a fan base
  30. Edit concurrently to filming (this will help you resolve major problems swiftly)
  31. Document all licensed footage
  32. Confirm spelling of names in the film credits
  33. Complete first edit of movie
  34. Once first draft of movie is done, invite friends over for peer review screening
  35. Make changes to the film based on the comments which were consistent in peer review screening
  36. Obtain a copyright by submitting the final film to the Library of Congress
  37. Complete final movie trailer and release it online
  38. Burn master Blu-rays (this took 16 hours for the 1st rendering)
  39. Burn 4:3 aspect ratio DVDs of movie (be aware of how titles get cropped)
  40. Review Blu-rays and DVDs for quality control
  41. Destroy all Blu-rays and DVDs that had errors
  42. Create closed captioning files
  43. Design artwork: movie posters (27×40 inches), promotional posters (11×17 and 8.5×11), DVD covers, DVD stickers, Blu-ray covers and Blu-ray stickers
  44. Ask peers to provide feedback on the artwork designs, adjust it accordingly
  45. Upload all poster designs to website, so they may be downloaded for screenings throughout the world
  46. Upload high definition movie to Vimeo.com and other video-on-demand platforms
  47. Review entire high definition movie online, to confirm it is free of errors
  48. Create passwords to high definition online copies, so you can share the film with distributors and film festivals prior to public release
  49. Upload master copy of film on WithOutABox.com
  50. Submit to film festivals
  51. Upload movie poster to IMDB.com (cost is $35 per poster)
  52. Submit master DVD to Amazon.com at least 6 weeks before releasing online
  53. Order proof of DVD from Amazon.com, review it for quality and approve it when ready
  54. Book movie theaters 60 days in advance
  55. Book interviews with media
  56. Book newspaper advertisements at least 2 weeks prior to premiere
  57. Send invitations to cast, crew and media at least 2 weeks prior to premiere
  58. Make concise notes of the film workflow, so that years from now someone can go back and easily edit scenes as if needed
  59. Store original film footage and all film documents in fire proof vault

 

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