How long do different types of films take to make?
Most filmmakers learn their craft by making short films before moving onto features. The amount of time a feature film takes to make depends heavily on the genre.
Independent films usually come together on shoestring budgets, so production time, which is the most expensive part of filmmaking, is shorter. “For an independent film, take about three to six months for pre-production and one to two months for principal photography and then take maybe six months to a year for post-production,” says cinematographer Hiroshi Hara.
Hallmark creates tons of holiday romances by devoting just a few weeks to production and then moving quickly through editing, so a film shot in summer can stream on Netflix by Christmas. Romances tend to require fewer action scenes or special effects and fewer sets and actors, so they can be shot quickly.
These films can vary widely depending on the budget and scope of the film. An intimate drama about a couple in Los Angeles could come together quickly, while a period drama might require elaborate costumes and sets that take time to build. A war epic may require the hiring and co-ordination of hundreds of extras and difficult stunts, both of which add time to the production.
Superhero or sci-fi action
Because so much of the action happens with VFX, DC and Marvel films and franchise epics like Star Wars films require a lot of time in post-production. Still, with the resources of a major studio, these large films can come together fast. Avengers: Endgame spent five months in production and made it into theatres 15 months later.
Animated films tend to take longer than live action, but it depends how many animators are on the team. A feature film by Pixar or Disney might take five years to make, with more than 100 animators working together for several months.