Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Heidi from Rockingham. Heidi Wonders, “How are movies made?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Heidi!

You’ve spent hours getting into costume and makeup. Now, you’re trying to see past all the bright lights. It’s almost time. Your nerves are getting to you. What’s your character’s name again? Do you remember your lines? Too soon, you hear those three words from the director: “Lights. Camera. Action.”

But the process of making a movie began long before the cameras started rolling. Anyone who works in film can tell you that a lot of work goes on behind the scenes. However, movie fans rarely get to peek behind the curtain. This leaves many WONDERing: How are movies made?

All movies start as just an idea. Many writers, producers, actors, and directors carry around notebooks to jot down ideas that come to them during the day. The best ideas grow in their minds until they’re big enough to become a film.

Once an idea has had some time to grow, the next step is to write a script. Also called a screenplay, the script breaks up the story into scenes. It lays out the action and dialogue for the characters in the story.  It guides everyone who works on the movie, from the set designer to the leading actor. The script is written long before filming starts, but it will change throughout the movie-making process.

In most cases, the next step is to make a storyboard. This is a visual guide for what scenes of the movie will look like. Many people draw storyboards by hand, but others photograph their storyboards instead. This step helps writers, producers, and directors decide what the movie will look like.

Is it time to film yet? Not quite! It takes many people to make a movie. Before filming, movie makers need to find the right cast and crew members. They need actors, set builders, and costume designers. They also need people to work the camera and audio equipment, makeup artists, and prop masters. For major films, hundreds (or even thousands!) of people will need to be hired. 

After the cast and crew are in place, it’s time to get the cameras rolling. Everyone involved in the film travels to the chosen location. There, they shoot each scene until they get it just right. In many cases, movie makers will shoot different versions of every scene. That way, they’ll have many options to choose from in the final cut.

After filming, the job continues. Film editing software is used to stitch the footage together. Editors add music, visual effects, and anything else needed to complete the film. When they’re done, the movie is finally ready for the big screen.

All-in-all, shooting a feature-length film often takes between six and eight months. However, if you’re interested in filmmaking, you’ll probably start a lot smaller. You just need the right equipment and help from a few friends. You might be able to complete the process in just a few weeks.

Do you dream of writing or directing a blockbuster hit? Would you rather help build the set or work with audio equipment? Maybe you’d be a great film editor or help with other post-production tasks! Filmmaking is a long, difficult process, but it can be so much fun to see your hard work pay off.

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA..6, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2,, CCRA.R.10

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This Wonder of the Day is SIMPLY terrific!