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24 Jan2017

Director’s Notes on Post-production

All of the ‘things’ you don’t think about that film festivals and distributors need to exhibit and distribute your film.” 

So you’ve finished editing your film, and you’re ready to send it out into the world. You’ve uploaded your secure link, and you’re willing to apply to festivals.

The hard work in the editing room and now’s the easy part, right?

Not so fast – there’s a whole list of deliverables that film festivals, markets, and distribution companies require that maybe you and your producer haven’t considered.

The Poster

The Poster can be a valuable asset to have in the development and packaging stage to get your film off the ground and seen by potential investors and collaborators.

Having a robust and solid film poster is a promotional piece that is critical to the movie’s publicity. A good graphic designer on board with the design of the movie poster is a necessity as the poster conveys the essence of the film in one single layout, reflecting the aesthetics of the filmmakers as well as the overall ‘look and feel’ of the film.

Many film festivals would like to have a sign that they can use for publicizing the film, and most distributors require a poster in their deliverables list.

The Trailer

Whether your film is a short one or a feature, having a trailer is an essential part of the deliverables package. It is the first look that many people will take at your film. Having a strong, well-edited trailer can mean the difference between someone deciding to watch your film or not.

The construction of the trailer is a significant amount of work that often will require an additional budget apart from the film itself. Trailers often are afterthoughts during production and editing, yet it is important that concept and execution of trailers is discussed not only with the editor but also with your sound designer and composer before post production ends.

Many feature film directors think through the trailer design while they are shooting and collaborate with the studio to construct the film’s trailer as production is taking place. This process results in a substantial publicity piece for the movie that is ready to be released long before the film finishes posting. 


As a general rule of thumb, you should select ten still pictures of the film for publicity. The selection of these photos is important, as each one must be able to individually represent the film, creating intrigue and curiosity about the film itself.

When creating your still images packet it is important to have both ‘clean’ still images as well as stills with titles, festival laurels where the film has premiered and other pertinent information about the film that you can quickly use to promote your film in a multitude of situations.

Almost all festivals will require ‘a few good still photos,’ usually one to three that they can use to publicize the film. Because you don’t know which photo film festivals, media outlets or distributors will use when they publicize your film, it is important to make sure each photo can stand alone.

Cast and Crew list

Many festivals and distributors require on their submission forms a cast and crew list of all of the people who worked on the film. It may not require every individual’s name, but at least the actors and key creatives in each department. Having this information neatly located in a quickly accessible document will save lots time when applying to festivals and replying to press inquiries. 

The Dialogue List

Creating a subtle, yet time intensive and annoying dialogue list is essential if you want to submit to many international festivals where English is not the primary language is essential. The dialogue list differs from the actual shooting script because it is only the dialogue that made it into the final cut of the film.

Generally this item tends to be an afterthought, but a necessity for festival submission and distribution and is not something that usually has already been created. If you are planning on translating the film into other languages, having the film’s dialogue list ready in English is a crucial first step.

Luckily, though, during the subtitling process, the dialogue can be easily saved and formatted into a text document file which you can use for future use.


Subtitling is another painful, expensive and time-consuming process that is often not considered in the first deliverables package for the film. If you are looking at distributing your film in international markets, distributors will often require the film subtitled in multiple languages. Sometimes the distributor will pay for the translation and subtitling.

If you think your film has a high chance in international festivals and markets, planning the films translating and subtitling early in the post will ensure an easy transition once the film is complete and ready for submission and distribution.

For subtitling there are many ways to go through this process, from hiring professional translation and subtitling companies to doing it yourself. Today there are several professional quality subtitling programs available free of charge like Vimeo’s Amara program and Juble that give you a full range of subtitling and captioning options.

When budgeting for subtitling, make ensuring adding enough time for every part of this process as it will take longer than you expect. A good way to figure this out is to do the film’s trailer first and then make a projection.

Even if your film is in English, many festivals require subtitles, and if you are going to distribute your film, distributors need the film to be Close Captioned for international and hearing impaired audiences.

The Music Cue Sheet

So your Composer has composed an amazing soundtrack, and you’ve worked tirelessly with him to make sure it syncs up with every moment in the film, but have you completed the music in the film? The time code where each piece starts and finishes? And the duration of each song? If not, don’t forget this step!

Distribution companies require this information in their deliverables list. Finding a distributor can take a long time after the film is complete, and realizing you are missing this information long after everyone else on the project has moved on and is busy working on something else can be an undesired last minute pain avoided by filling out this information while still in post.

Thank You

It is easy to get so wrapped up and absorbed in your film that you fail to realize how hard other people have made efforts to achieve your vision. Last but not least, it is important to remember to credit and thank everyone who worked on the project.

A little recognition goes a long way towards creating a positive memory of your film and will pay off down the line when you need to ask these same people to make your next one.

– Video Caddy

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