The Life Cycle of a Film Unit – Processes and Common Management Problems

The production of a film is a complex and temporary endeavor that involves the collaboration of numerous professionals, each contributing their expertise to bring a story to life on the screen.

The life cycle of a film unit can be divided into distinct stages, each with its own set of processes and potential management problems.


According to Mark Murphy, director, writer, and producer, ‘If anything can go wrong, it will. The key to successful filmmaking is to expect problems and, more importantly, to have a backup plan to deal with them quickly. The best filmmakers are proactive problem-solvers.’

I. Pre-Production Stage

The pre-production stage marks the inception of a film project. It involves the development and planning processes before the actual shooting begins.


  1. Script Development: This stage begins with the development of the screenplay. Screenwriters craft the narrative, dialogues, and scenes.
  2. Casting: Once the script is finalized, casting directors select actors for the roles based on the characters’ descriptions and requirements.
  3. Location Scouting: Location scouts identify and secure suitable shooting locations, considering factors like accessibility, aesthetics, and budget.
  4. Budgeting and Financing: Producers work on creating a budget and securing funding for the project.

Common Management Problems

  • Budget overruns
  • Scheduling conflicts [amongst crews and casts]
  • Casting choice issues

II. Production Stage

The production stage involves the actual shooting of the film, where the pre-planned elements come together.


  1. Principal Photography: This is the heart of filmmaking, where scenes are filmed according to the script and director’s vision.
  2. Crew Coordination: The director and production team must manage the crew, ensuring they work efficiently and safely.
  3. Equipment and Logistics: Managing equipment, transportation, and other logistical aspects is vital for smooth production.

Common Management Problems

  • Weather and environmental challenges
  • Equipment failures
  • Personnel conflicts

film 8

III. Post-Production Stage

Post-production is the phase where the filmed material is edited, sound is designed, visual effects are added, and the final film is crafted.


  1. Editing: Editors work on assembling the footage, refining the pacing, and ensuring narrative coherence.
  2. Sound Design: Sound engineers and designers create the film’s audio elements, including dialogues, music, and sound effects.
  3. Visual Effects: If the film includes visual effects, these are added during post-production.
  4. Color Grading and Finalization: Colorists adjust the film’s color palette, giving it a consistent and polished look.

Common Management Problems

  • Editing challenges
  • Sound and music issues
  • Visual effects delays

IV. Distribution and Marketing Stage

Once the film is completed, the focus shifts to distributing and marketing it to reach the target audience.


  1. Film Festivals and Screenings: The film may be submitted to festivals to generate buzz and secure distribution deals.
  2. Distribution Deals: Distributors negotiate deals for the film’s release in theatres, on streaming platforms, or through other channels.
  3. Marketing Campaigns: Marketers create advertising and promotional campaigns to build anticipation for the film’s release.

Common Management Problems

  • Distribution challenges
  • Marketing budget constraints
  • Audience reception

film 6


The life cycle of a film unit is a temporary system that involves intricate processes and can encounter various management challenges. Successful filmmaking requires effective management throughout all stages, from pre-production to distribution.

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