Why do movies take longer to film than series episodes that are the same length in time? (Both the movie and individual episodes are about an hour long)

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Why do movies take longer to film than series episodes that are the same length in time? (Both the movie and individual episodes are about an hour long)

In: 6

They don’t.

At least, they don’t have to.

But you’re starting with a completely unproven thesis.

However, TV episodes typically move faster because there’s a smaller budget (relative to time) and much tighter deadlines to meet.

On the flip side, a tv show is is usually ran like a well-oiled machine with everyone knowing exactly what is necessary to make the deadlines. The actors already understand their characters and are better informed of where they’re at in terms of the story. The crew of a tv show (for the most part) remains stable episode to episode therefore there’s a strong working relationship in place that increases efficiency.

There are some factors that slow down film productions though. First, multiple short-term locations. Moving a production from place to place is difficult and very time consuming. Sure, tv shows move around some,but it’s not always the same. Game of Thrones, for example when shooting in multiple countries, used different crews in each place, and only key personnel had to move from site to site. Not the entire production.

Another thing is that a film director spends more time checking the dailies and ensuring things are to his/her liking before moving on. Because of the production realities, it’s more prudent for a film director to go slower and make sure it’s right because pickups (shots done after principal photography has ended) are kind of a logistical and budgetary nightmare if it’s a difficult place to film or anything like that.

Again, TV shows have to go with “good enough” quite a lot because of the condensed schedule and budget.

But circling back around, a fairly typical average film can be shot in about six weeks. That’s a two hour film, with high production quality and lots of locations and stuff.

An hourlong TV drama returning to the same sets over and over, using the same crew every day, usually shoots on a 1-2 week per episode schedule depending on how many characters and locations are involved and other factors.

1 week sounds super short compared to 6, but again, the movie is like 2 episodes, so then you have to look at it as 2-4 weeks for an equivalent amount of tv time.

Getting closer.

Then, you have to remember that tv shows are like moving trains. Once they get going, they don’t really slow down or stop for anything. A film shoot however has to start and stop over and over quite a lot. A film just doesn’t have the same momentum as a tv show, so it’s less efficient.

But that’s not true across the board, especially for highly cinematic big budget tv shows. They can shoot the entire series like one giant movie (all out of order depending on location) and in that case it’s much, much slower than other tv shows that crank out an episode a week.

My uneducated guess is twofold: setup, and systems.

Setting up the set, getting the people on site, explaining the direction etc all have to happen for both, before you can start.

And then! Creating episode 3 uses a lot of the same systems creating episode 1 did. Imagine you wanted to create a gorgeous wood table. You go out and get all the tools you need, you visit the stain shop to pick out your colours, you fuck up a few times on the legs and start over. Eventually you make the table you wanted to make. Now imagine your friend offers to buy one just like it – is the second table going to take you the same amount of time, or less?

First, movies aren’t “about an hour” long, they’re more about double the running time of an episode of a series.

Second, I’d say a movie is like making a big dinner for your friends and a series episode is like a chef making one meal in the middle of a series of meals with the tools all lined up and ready.

Short answer: Logistics of equipment, actors, and crew usually remain in the same place for a longer period of time. This means less down time building up and tearing down sets and that means more time filming. Also, TV shows expand on dialogue far more and scenes where actors are talking an extended period of time are by far the easiest to build length in the medium.

One major reason is that most TV shows have their main sets and props already built and their cast of main characters already hired. Movies have to do all that from scratch each time.

Another reason is that most movies tend to have much higher budgets than equivalently-long TV show episodes. The increased spending obviously results in more man-hours of labor needed to process all the extra spending. Things like doing multiple takes of the same scene over and over again, which TV show episodes don’t typically have the budget to keep doing nearly as much as movies do.

Then there’s also the special effects. Higher budget means better special effects, which means more time spent getting effects just right. Same thing with designing the sets, props, and costumes in the first place (which, again, movies often have to do from scratch each time).