If the creative team has carefully prepared during pre-production, the principal photography period should run smoothly. Actual production of the film occurs under the direction of the producers and the director. Based on the physical needs of the screenplay and extensive conversations between the director, producers and key department heads, a shooting schedule is determined that can range from as few as 20 days (for low-budget films) to a medium-budget range of 40-60 shooting days, with some productions requiring as many as 150 days of principal photography due to extensive action and effects sequences.
During principal photography, the director is the boss with the cast and crew taking full direction from that individual. Should the need arise to make any changes or suggestions in the execution of the schedule, such comments will be made by the producers to the director. The producer’s job at this point is three-fold: support the director with everything needed to shoot his film, insure the artistic integrity of the screenplay, and yet maintain and institute management polices to insure that the film remains on budget and on schedule.
This is also the stage when hand-drawn or computer-generated animation and digital characters, environments and worlds are created.