Principal photography


Principal photography

Principal photography is the phase of film production in which the movie is actually shot, as distinct from pre-production and post-production.

Principal photography is usually the most expensive phase of film production and generally marks a point of no return for the financiers. While it is not uncommon for a film to lose its greenlight status during pre-production (for example, because an important element such as a cast member drops out), it is extremely uncommon for finance to be withdrawn once principal photography has commenced (and is usually regarded as a catastrophe).

In the United Kingdom, since 2005, top independent production companies and major studios when dealing with major motion pictures have recently adapted the short term of Roll Programme which is similar to greenlighting, however it is commonly used by accountants and producers in highlighting the fact to all parties concerned that there is no abort, cancellation or any other route for the film apart from finishing the film under any circumstances. This is only used for very high cost films, as calling a halt to a major feature whilst in production will cost the studio or producer even more in penalty fees and insurance claims for non-completion of the project.

Once a film concludes principal photography it is said to have wrapped, and a wrap party may be organized to celebrate.

During post-production, it may become clear that certain shots or sequences are missing that are required to complete the film, or that a certain scene is not playing as expected, or even that a particular actor has failed to turn in a performance of the required caliber. In these circumstances, additional material may have to be shot. If the material has already been shot once, or is substantial, the process is referred to as a re-shoot, but if the material is new and relatively minor, it is often referred to as a pick-up.


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