- Level One: Micro-Short Films
- Level Two: Longer Short Films
- Level Three: Backyard Blockbuster Features
- Level Four: Low-Budget Independent Films
- Level Five: Studio Indie Films
- Level Six: Multiple Motion Pictures
- Level Seven: The Blockbuster Realm
- Popular Questions
Do you ever feel stuck with your filmmaking?
You’ve got dozens of movie ideas.
You take the courses. You attend the festivals. You go to the film markets. You meet people. You make your pitch. You have good conversations.
Then months go by, and nothing happens?
If what I just described sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
And the solution might be simpler than you think…
The 7 Levels of Movie Producing
The 7 Levels Of Movie Producing was co-created with producer Tom Malloy, based on our collective experiences and insights.
By following The 7 Levels Of Movie Producing, you’ll always have a step-by-step roadmap on where you’re at and where to go next.
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.
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.
Level Three: Backyard BLOCKBUSTER Feature Film
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 around $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 can try crowdfunding and pestering 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.
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 investors back. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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The 7 Levels of Movie Producing outlines a step-by-step guide for independent filmmakers to progress through different stages of their movie-producing careers.
It starts with making micro-short films with minimal resources. It progresses through creating longer short films, indie feature films, low-budget independent films, studio indie films, and multiple motion pictures, and finally concludes with producing blockbuster movies.
Each level includes specific action steps for filmmakers to develop their skills, build their body of work, and navigate the complexities of the film industry.
Popular Movie Producing Questions
Here are popular questions and answers about the Seven Levels of Movie Producing.
What are the seven levels of movie producing?
The seven levels include Micro-Short Films, Longer Short Films, Backyard Indie Feature Films, Low-Budget Independent Films, Studio Indie Films, Multiple Motion Pictures, and The Blockbuster Realm.
How can I start my filmmaking career with minimal resources?
Begin by creating micro-short films using accessible resources like smartphones and sharing them on social platforms.
What are the key steps in making a longer short film?
Focus on writing or finding a script, investing in basic equipment, collaborating, and refining narrative and technical skills.
How do I transition to making an indie feature film?
Plan a small budget project, focus on planning, budgeting, and managing resources for potential distribution.
What’s involved in producing low-budget Movies?
Secure funding, handle logistics, work with higher-tier talent, and develop distributor relationships.
How do I produce a studio indie film?
Use past success to manage larger budgets, work with famous actors, and maintain indie style in larger productions.
What are the characteristics of a filmmaker at the multiple motion pictures level?
Handle multiple projects, access larger budgets, and engage in professional team collaborations and studio partnerships.
What defines the blockbuster realm in film producing?
Involves producing large-scale movies with huge budgets, A-list actors, and significant industry impact.
How important is flexibility and creativity in filmmaking?
Highly important. Filmmakers should be creative and experimental, using resources to progress through different production levels.
Here’s a glossary of key terms mentioned in the article, complete with definitions.
Micro-Short Films (Level One): Very brief films, typically less than a minute long, often created for social platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. They require minimal resources and are ideal for experimenting with different filming styles and angles.
Longer Short Films (Level Two): Short films that are slightly longer than micro-shorts, usually lasting between three to eight minutes. These films often involve more planning and slightly better equipment and serve as a platform to develop narrative skills and filmmaking techniques.
Backyard Blockbuster (Level Three): Independent films with a small budget, typically around $50,000. These projects are more ambitious than short films and require extensive planning, budgeting, and resource management.
Low-Budget Independent Films (Level Four): Films produced with limited funding from personal savings, friends, or family. These projects are larger in scale than backyard indie films and often involve dealing with more complex logistics and higher-tier cast and crew.
Studio Indie Films (Level Five): Independent films with significant studio backing. These films have higher budgets and feature a mix of indie style and studio-level production quality, often involving famous actors and significant marketing campaigns.
Multiple Motion Pictures (Level Six): At this level, filmmakers are involved in producing several motion pictures simultaneously. They have established credibility and can access larger budgets, professional casts, and crew, as well as navigate studio politics.
The Blockbuster Realm (Level Seven): The pinnacle of filmmaking, where directors create large-scale blockbuster movies with massive budgets, A-list actors, and cutting-edge effects. Success at this level is akin to renowned directors like Spielberg and Nolan.