Making Movie Magic

Making Movie Magic

Do you enjoy exploring other worlds?  Do you often find yourself lost in a fantasy of action and imagination?  Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed with your own environment and need to escape into a faraway land?  Well then movies may be your ticket. For decades, cinema has captivated audiences and encouraged dreamers.  From the silent film days to the imaginative computer graphic power we have today, movies have always been about creating magic on screen.  It takes a whole team of individuals to bring this magic to the big screen. Years of inventive backstage tricks developed into crazy computer graphics and now digital art.  Either way, the magic of the behind the scenes captivates audiences as much as what happens on screen. People clamor to sit on the sidelines of a movie set and every DVD you buy comes with a whole second disc of behind the scenes features.  We are curious about the world of cinema and what makes it great. That backstage movie magic is fascinating.

First Steps

So many steps to creating a movie exist, most of which happen before a single actor is called or an ounce of film is recorded.  A tremendous amount of money is involved in the filmmaking industry, so your first steps involve selling your script.  Once you know the exact screenplay, you must figure a budget and a plan for how you will market the movie once they make it.  Investors understand the risk of funding a movie, so you must pitch an idea that they cannot refuse. If you believe in a project, and you have passion for it, you should have an easier time convincing a sponsor.

Once you have the budget to fund your project, you need to assemble your team.  This involves negotiating deals with reputable lawyers like Preszler law getting the best deals for their actors and technicians.  Most major movies become successful when they put together a well-respected and energetic team.  You need to get your team a copy of the finalized script with a scene breakdown. Then everyone gets to work on scheduling times to shoot.

Filmmaking is a collaborative art form.  Each team member relies on each other to make a good final product.  If the microphone guy takes the day off, the audio may not be as strong from that day of shooting.  If the makeup artist and an actor can’t work together, then how will the character look their best every day on set.  The real magic of movie making is the collaboration and comradery that built behind the scenes.

Location Hunting

Once the logistics of finding a talented team settle, move on to the fun stuff!  Did you know that location scouting is a huge part of shooting a movie? Especially if you create a fantasy land or an invented city.  In the past, it may have been customary to build a full set of fantasy places. Now, most big companies will do a combination of both, and even use scale models of invented places.  To give an example, they built Hobbiton from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings into the hillsides of New Zealand. Hogwarts from Harry Potter was a combination of all the tricks of the movie business.  They filmed on location at an actual castle, built certain sets on sound stages, but also built a scaled replica of the building for grand shots.

Finding a place to shoot parts of your film brings about several questions.  Will you have to shut down the entire town? Is there anything specific that will make the city distinguishable?  Did you find the proper feel for the movie? Your location scout answers all your questions. Someone of the film team will go check out attractions to explore in Vicksburg, MS and the islands of the Philippines to find the perfect location.  There also is a possibility for you to film in an actual city where a story takes place.  So many movies revolve around life in New York City, so perhaps best to film there. This takes collaboration with city officials and you may have some pedestrians to work around, but the result is often stunning.  You bring a sense of authenticity to your movie. Whether you create a new place, reimagining a city, or representing a small town, there is a location perfect for your movie.


A location for filming must be realistic, so the props must continue this effect, even if it’s not as true to their origins.  The movie industry has spent many years perfecting their prop tricks, and props masters are some of the most well researched individuals on a set.  Scenes sometimes take an entire day to film; which causes an issue if the actors should eat.  They must make several plates, just so food appears fresh during every take. Also, certain foods may become something different than it looks.  If a character is eating ice cream, the real thing could melt, so you replace it with something like mashed potatoes. If your actor is good enough, the audience will never know the difference.

If your budget stretches, you’ll have enough to have as many duplicates of props as you need.  If a character has to smash their phone out of rage, run to one of the AT&T stores in Indiana and pick up a dozen iPhones.  If you have a less lucrative budget, you may find old phones to create the same effect.

Props masters also must consider the actors in their decisions.  Did you have a star quit smoking, but they must film a scene with a cigarette in their hand?  There is a way to switch to e-juice and a vape, so your actor feels comfortable.  Working with props on a movie set allows for some creativity.

Green Screen

Creativity is key on set, especially when it comes to creating the amazing computer graphics we have come to love seeing on screen.  Technicians and actors must look at a green screen and imagine the backdrop of the creature they interact with. Much of this CGI comes after filming.  Even the actors don’t know the final product until they see the movie. This technology is advanced enough to take someone’s facial features and movements and create a creature on screen, like in James Cameron’s Avatar.  These secrets are the digital age of movie magic. We sure have come a long way from drawing cartoons and flipping the pages quick enough to make a character dance. We can explore new visual wonders in ways we can’t even imagine.

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