Guest Post: Filmmaking by Magda M. Olchawska

I am honoured today, to be joined by Magda, a very talented individual and great Twitter friend, who will share her experience of film making with us. Enjoy.

My name is Magda M. Olchawska and I’m an author of children books (Mikolay & Julia Adventures as well as an award-wining filmmaker.

Film is a wonderful art form. Seeing the images of my movies up on the big screen is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.

I wanted to make films since the age of seven when I watched “Citizen Kane”. Of course I didn’t understand what the movie was about but I felt it was the thing I wanted to do when I grow up.

As a teenager I would watch any independent movie I could find. My family called them “depressing”. I called it art house.

Finally, when I was of the right age & financially independent from my parents, I went to a film school for which I had to pay by myself ‘cos being a filmmaker was not an occupation, according to my parents.

It’s not that I’m complaining, it taught me a lot. It taught me to be resistant and hardworking, which you really need if you want to be a part of the filmmaking community.

Making a movie (no matter short or feature/long) is not an easy task. What you see up on the screen takes months, if not years to prepare.

Filmmaking, or moviemaking as a lot of us call it nowadays, is always divided into three main stages and each one is as important as the next one.

The first stage is called pre-production.

This is the time when a scriptwriter or a director (a lot of independent filmmakers write their own scripts.) writes a script. Scriptwriting can take months or years. The way I write scripts is very similar to the way I write stories & books. I just keep on re-writing my initial ideas. The key is to know when to stop. At times it’s hard.

The script doesn’t have to be totally polished (some people say that script is only finished when the final edit of the movie is logged so way past the pre-production is over). A producer (a person who is in charge of getting the movie made, often in the independent filmmaking world the director is also the producer.) starts getting the team (cast & crew) & investors together. Nowadays a lot of indie filmmakers use IndieGoGo & Kickstarter trying to finance their movies.

I personally think this is an amazing way of getting money together for loads of projects, which don’t stand a chance of being produced by major production houses.
So the writer is working on the script, the producer is working on getting the money, the production manager is getting the crew together as well as securing location, and the director is casting actors and working with each head of department (art department, make up & costumes, director of photography etc.) on the overall vision of the movie.

When all the pre-production is done & enough money is secured the filmmakers move to the second stage of filmmaking called PRODUCTION.

For me, as a director, the production stage is the most exciting part of creating a movie. This is the time when all your hard work from pre-production is going to come to life. This is the moment when you shoot your movie and you better shoot enough footage to have a movie. Always better more than less.

A film set is a crazy place to be at. A lot of things are happening at once, there is a whole bunch of different people asking million questions at the same time and heavy equipment around.

The production stage usually takes place within a certain number of days. The bigger the production (the more money the production has), the more shooting days you have. Small independent movies usually don’t shoot for longer than 18 days. Each day consists of even up to 15 hours working. When the filmmakers are done with all the filming, the third and last stage of making a movie begins – a post-production

Once the picture is on a hard drive/film it goes to the editor who starts putting images together according to the script, storyboard (created during pre-production with the director, director of photography & art director) and director’s notes. The film director is usually closely involved in the editing process.

This is also the time when a sound designer comes in as well as a music composer. The movie isn’t finished until the sound & music are mixed together.

When the images are in the right order and the sound is mixed, the movie has to embark on a long road to seek audience and to face the big scary world.

There are several ways a movie can find its way to an audience: film festivals, Internet, POD TV, and traditional, theatrical distribution.

At the moment, a lot of filmmakers do DIY distribution just like the writers started doing self-publishing. Many independent movies will end up online after they’re done with the film festival circle. However, it doesn’t mean that the movie is bad. It just means that the movie finds its audience online. Just like the writers do.

If you ever see a tweet about an independent movie please RT or check out the project & maybe support it. We, independent filmmakers, all need it.

Thank you so much for reading my blog. I hope you enjoyed it.

If you would like to find out more about my work as a writer & filmmaker please visit 

If you would like to find our more about my children books please visit


11 thoughts on “Guest Post: Filmmaking by Magda M. Olchawska

  1. Jane, thanks for having this guest spot on your blog, what a fascinating look into how a movie is born, start to finish. Like all professions I don’t think we appreciate the people who have the talent and experience to put these things together.

    Thanks and best wishes to you Magda.

  2. Having been involved in the screenwriting business, classes to conversing with professionals, your blog is necessary reading material. Thank you for writing about your process and sharing that with Jane’s readers. I’ll be recommending this Post to everyone.

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