What are all of the written documents needed to make a movie?

I am thinking there's the script, then there's maybe the pitch or plot, and I am wondering if there are other documents or that these two are the only documents you need to make a movie.

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    Are you including all the written contracts, whether to purchase the IP or to employ the film actors and workers? Introductory letters? What about written instructions on costuming or set design? Or are you just talking about the creatives? Does that include the music score? I recommend you edit your post to narrow it down as tightly as possible. Jun 15, 2021 at 3:25
  • There's also a movie site on Stack Exchange: movies.stackexchange.com :-) Jun 15, 2021 at 3:29
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    @ChappoHasn'tForgottenMonica They tend to cater towards movies that already exist, I'm unsure whether questions about making a movie would be on-topic there.
    – F1Krazy
    Jun 15, 2021 at 9:36
  • The question is also, what means a written document to you, e.g. do you count brainstorming maps, where the occasional scene/shot idea or description appears? The thing is every production is different and it depends on how many deparments are involved and therefore how much documentation is needed. There are all kind of technical and non-technical documents. What's your motivation behind this question? Knowing that, we may be able to help you better.
    – Matt
    Jun 15, 2021 at 10:49

1 Answer 1


There's only one document that is strictly necessary for making a film: The screenplay. It has the dialog, description of characters and settings, and stage directions. It might potentially also have high level descriptions of costumes, music and other aspects of the final experience.

However, there is a set of documents you might prepare in order to sell the screenplay --the logline, the pitch, the treatment, and so forth. And there's an entirely different set of documents generated from the screenplay and used for the actual production of the movie --the shooting script, the actor's scripts, the cinematographer's script, the costume bible and so forth --specialized technical documents for the individual collaborators creating the final product (those are NOT created by the screenwriter).

Big Hollywood movies have huge budgets and employ thousands of people, so they require a lot of different documents on both ends of the process. On the other hand, a little independent indie film might only ever have the screenplay.

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