Labor Pains and Contractions in Film Production
I’ve read that labor pains and contractions in pregnancy are pains that are all part of the labor process that prepares the body for giving birth. There’s a lot more that goes on during pregnancy and childbirth. Ask any woman who has given birth to get first-hand insight.
Labor pains and contractions in film production are part of the creative process of giving birth to a movie. Ask any film producer about experiencing labor pains and contractions leading up to a film baby being born to get uncensored honesty.
Labor pains and contractions in filmmaking can be thought of as changes that have to be made during preproduction, filming and postproduction. Different pieces are always moving when you’re making a movie.
Creative labor pains and contractions help make a movie better even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. It is amazing how focused your mind can become when you’re forced into a position where you have to rewrite a scene, work around losing an actor or any other production problem you need to solve to push forward.
It’s not ideal when something happens out of your control to throw your film planning off, but making movies isn’t something that goes smooth or as completely planned.
The unpredictability of it all keeps a filmmaker on their toes and sharp.
Inflexible filmmakers get eaten up by change and can’t adapt when their schedule is shaken up leading to their movie never seeing the light of day.
Starting preproduction for filmmakers is an exciting rush of emotion. All of the hours and energy spent taking a movie idea to this stage is an accomplishment.
At the preproduction stage the screenplay is locked (page and scene numbers) and film financing secured (money in the bank). You’ve got your key production elements in place ready to go to make a movie.
These key production elements are normally the principal talent, director, production coordinator, cinematographer and film locations signed off on. The rest of what you need will come together during preproduction.
Preproduction is where early labor pains and contractions can start being felt by a filmmaker. There are always changes that need to be made during preproduction. Script changes, location changes, scheduling changes and so on.
A filmmaker feels every single one of them in their creative gut. No matter what’s happening with your movie you have to remember to breathe. The changes are all part of the process of giving birth to a movie.
Filming is even more of rush than preproduction. You’re going to be filming your movie and you’re fired up to kickass on it. The shooting script and shot sheet are ready for you to bring them to life with actors and crew.
There’s always a flurry of activity going on during filming. Two constants I’ve noticed that most independent movie producers wrestle with during filming is there is never enough time or movie money to get every scene the way it was planned.
Camera setups and company moves always take more time than scheduled. Studio budget films have the luxury of pushing shooting dates or shutting down production for a few days to fix a problem. Indie funded movies always have to keep moving forward.
Labor pains and contractions increase with more frequency and intensity during filming. Breathe and keep your focus on the job at hand. Expect to always be fighting the clock and trying to keep your film budget from running dry.
Once you know what to expect it’s not so freighting when you’re in the trenches knee deep in the muck shooting an indie film. When you make it out of filming it’s time to tackle the beast of postproduction
Labor pains and contractions during postproduction are the most painful in my opinion. You will see every single mistake made while filming. But don’t fall apart. Nothing filmed on location is ever perfect every scene.
Actors have off days when they’re not at their best. Directors make bad calls on set. Cinematographers blow camera shots. Script supervisors overlook a continuity issue. Location sound mixers are going to record crap audio on takes. (Insert a production problem you’ve heard about here).
The thing is that actors, directors, crew and producers are all going to make mistakes at some point when camera rolls. Look past that in postproduction to find takes a movie editor can work with to cut your film together.
And as detailed orientated as movie editors are, they also make mistakes. The whole thing with making movies is to avoid making silly mistakes and to fix the ones you can. If you can’t fix a specific mistake see what you can do to edit around it to get the scene done and finish the movie.
Labor pains and contractions in filmmaking do end when you finally give birth to your film baby. What are you going to title your visual bundle of joy? This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing FADE OUT