Producing a movie can be challenging, but you’re not alone. Our new guide, The 7 Levels Of Movie Producing, can help you identify where you are and what steps to take next. It’s designed to help you “level up” your movie producing, step by step.
- Level One: Micro-Short Films
- Level Two: Longer Short Films
- Level Three: Backyard Indie Feature Film
- Level Four: Low-Budget Independent Films
- Level Five: Studio Indie Films
- Level Six: Multiple Motion Pictures
- Level Seven: The Blockbuster Realm
LEVEL ONE: MICRO-SHORT FILMS
If you’re reading this, you’re already on the right track. No cash? No fancy gear? No problem. Just be creative and use whatever you have.
Got a phone? Great! Start filming short one-minute videos for YouTube or some quick stuff for TikTok. Make a video with your favorite song, or show off a skill you have. Even filming your cat napping and adding a funny voice can work.
Just film whatever you like. And as you do, try out different filming styles or angles you’ve seen in movies. It’s a learning process. Things might not always turn out perfect, but that’s okay. Just keep trying, learning, and having fun with it.
Specifically, 15 to 20 short videos are less than a minute long for social platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.
- Identify your favorite social platforms for sharing your work (TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, etc.)
- Determine various themes, genres, and styles you want to experiment with.
- Develop your filming and editing skills.
- Learn about post-production techniques and software.
- Start exploring basic marketing strategies to get your work seen.
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LEVEL TWO: LONGER SHORT FILMS
At level two, you progress to making longer short films, approximately three to eight minutes long.
Find or write a short movie script. And if you’re serious, maybe spend a bit on renting a good camera or buy a new phone with a fancy camera. Grab some affordable lights, a basic microphone, and a tripod online. Get some friends into filmmaking, and maybe bribe them with pizza to help.
If you need to, set aside some money to make it happen. Build on what you learned from before, aiming for a slightly longer, more refined movie.
Do this over and over. Yep, you’ll mess up. It happens. Just learn and don’t make the same mistake twice.
- Work on extending the narrative structure of your films.
- Start investing in better equipment and software.
- Begin collaborations with other filmmakers and learn to work in a team.
- Start to familiarize yourself with the legalities of filmmaking and contracts.
- Research film festivals and opportunities for showcasing your work.
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LEVEL THREE: BACKYARD BLOCKBUSTER
When you get to Level Three, it’s time to make something for real. Something that has a chance of getting distributed and getting you a little (or maybe a lot?) of attention and money.
You’re stepping up to a true indie feature. Something small. What “small” means varies from individual to individual. Think of a budget somewhere between $10,000 to $50,000. Where exactly do you get money if you’re not independently wealthy? There’s no one answer, and the odds are whatever solution you find will be messy.
Maybe you get a second job for a while and save it up. Perhaps you try crowdfunding and pester every person you’ve met to earn $50. Maybe you have a rich relative you can guilt trip or blackmail into coughing up the cash.
Whatever path you choose, with no track record as a feature filmmaker, it’s probably gonna be at least a bit painful. Push through it.
This is a step from producing shorts, demanding more extensive planning, budgeting, and resource management.
Filmmaker Action Steps:
- Plan your project thoroughly, including budgeting and resource management.
- Invest in more advanced equipment necessary for longer films.
- Develop stronger collaborations, possibly even involving initial investors.
- Learn about film distribution channels and how to utilize them.
- Screen your film at local or online indie film festivals.
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LEVEL FOUR: LOW-BUDGET INDEPENDENT FILMS
Level four is where you start making low-budget independent films, using money from friends, family, or your own savings.
And this is when things start to get interesting. Since you’ve already made a backyard indie and it turned out pretty well, or at least decent. Or at least it’s finished… Doesn’t matter. You’ve gained respect as a filmmaker.
You’ve proven your ability to overcome challenges and bring your vision to life, even when the odds are stacked against you. With this newfound confidence and credibility, you’re ready for a bigger project, one that’s backed by investors. This means more money, more stress, and more people giving their input.
Whether you’re spearheading the project or have been hired to assist someone else in producing their film, you’re on the verge of entering the big leagues, and success is within your reach.
Filmmaker Action Steps:
- Start seeking funding from friends, family, or personal savings.
- Deal with more complex logistics, such as location scouting and production scheduling.
- Start working with higher-tier cast and crew.
- Develop relationships with sales agents and distributors.
- Launch a marketing campaign to promote your film.
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LEVEL FIVE: STUDIO INDIE FILMS
You’re now in the big indie film league, making movies with more money but keeping that unique indie style.
Studios are giving you VIP treatment because of your success in indie films. You’re still making movies that feel like indie projects, but now you’ve got big studios supporting you with their money and resources. This means bigger budgets and even famous actors joining in. You’ve worked hard, and you deserve this spot.
Filmmaker Action Steps:
- Prove you’re reliable and can handle big budgets.
- Get the hang of working with big studios and all their rules.
- Build strong connections with important people in the industry.
- Make a movie that feels and looks more expensive.
- Get your movie out to the general public using major release methods.
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LEVEL SIX: MULTIPLE MOTION PICTURES
At level six, you’re making multiple motion pictures. Your credibility has grown so you can access investors, studio producers, professional casts, and crew and navigate the studio system’s politics.
At this stage, you’re not just making one film. You’re making several. Because of your past success, more people want to invest and work with you. You can now access bigger budgets, deals, and co-production opportunities with other companies.
It’s not just about making a film. It’s about global teamwork. Everyone’s looking to partner with you, and you’re making big, worldwide movies.
Filmmaker Action Steps:
- Leverage your portfolio to access investors, studio producers, and professional casts and crews.
- Become adept at navigating the politics of the studio system.
- Plan and execute multiple film projects, ensuring each is successful and profitable.
- Develop co-productions with studios or other successful producers.
- Learn how to manage larger teams and bigger budgets.
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LEVEL SEVEN: THE BLOCKBUSTER REALM
The final level, level seven, is the realm of the blockbuster. At this level, you create movies that not only set trends in the industry but also leave a lasting impact on the world. You have access to massive budgets, A-list actors, and cutting-edge special effects.
Level Seven is all about making films that will be remembered forever, ones that capture the world’s imagination. The bar is set high, but success here can put you in the same league as Spielberg, Scorsese, and Nolan.
Filmmaker Action Steps:
- Develop relationships with major film studios.
- Master working with budgets of $20 million or more.
- Develop narratives for mainstream, blockbuster appeal.
- Secure partnerships with globally recognized cast and crew.
- Ensure that your films achieve both box office success and critical acclaim.
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Keep in mind that this filmmaker roadmap isn’t a strict sequence.
The truth is, success can happen at any stage, just like Mr. Beast, who’s thriving in Levels One and Two.
The main point here is to maintain a continuous commitment to creativity and experimentation so you can push your career to the next level without waiting for everything to be perfect.
Use the resources you have right now, to make the movie you can make this year. Then repeat the process and “level up” your career.
Start today, and always remember that you don’t need permission to be successful.