For first time filmmakers, making a movie can be daunting. After all, where do you start? Do you cast the actors first? Do you need to find the location, hone the story or hire the crew? Maybe you need to create a storyboard?

It can be absolutely confusing to know what to do, so in an attempt to make it simple, here are the steps you need to follow when preparing your film.

Please note that this outline is geared more towards the independent filmmaker. If you’re the Hollywood type (I’m not really sure why you’re reading this) you might need to tweak and go through similar things but it would be a bit more hectic.


Aptly dubbed by many as “development hell,” this is a period where the film is conceptualized and the basic elements put together. There are layers of processes underneath this. They are mentioned below. These can overlap and the structure isn’t fixed, depending on the film.

1.A. Creating the Plot and Story

How this is done usually depends on the screenwriter’s process. Traditionally and for most screenwriters, they follow a Three Act Structure, usually arranging the story into three major sections. Afterwards, a scene outline is then done for the entire film or story.

1.B. Writing the Script

It’s important the structure, plotpoints and scene outline are created first before diving into the script. Some screenwriters think writing the script should be the first thing, but as you can see, it’s more beneficial to the film and story if you have a solid outline first before diving into the details. Also, look into using dedicated software for screenplays instead of using plain Word. Microsoft Word might be accessible and convenient but seriously, having something like Final Draft will help you create a professional script and save you from a whole lot of headaches. It’s worth the investment for sure.

1.C. Re-Writing the Script

Yes, this is bound to happen. In fact, you need to keep rewriting your screenplay until you can get it remotely decent. All great scripts go through this, yours should as well.

1.D. Finding Financing for the Film

This can be a frustrating period for many filmmakers. However, it has to be done. It’s not going to be easy but you have to keep at it. Some filmmakers even prefer to shell out their own cash just to get their film out the door. There’s nothing wrong with this and sometimes it’s the only way. Just remember that no two films are financed the same way. And yes, you will feel like a sales person during this stage.

Part two will be up next week. Stay tuned!