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How Long Does it Take to Get 1 Minute of the Finished Film for Movies or TV Shows?

How Long Does it Take to Get 1 Minute of the Finished Film for Movies or TV Shows?

On 19 June 1878, the first commercial film was created using 11 frames of a man riding a horse.

There doesn’t seem to be any record of how long it took to film this sequence or, indeed, how much it cost.But one thing is for sure.

It certainly took a lot less time than the 15 years it took for Avatar to reach our screens.And it definitely costs a lot less. You’ve no doubt wondered then, how long it takes to film and produce your favorite movie.

And yes, it might take months, or even years to complete the filming, which then only lasts an average of ninety minutes when you watch it!

If that is the case, how long would it take to produce just one minute of the completed movie? It’s not an easy question to answer because there are multiple complex factors to consider.

Consider for a moment the type of project, the creator’s vision, the genre, the budget available, and the time it takes to develop and produce it.

Related to: Camera Technology & TV Production

How Long Does It Take to Finish Movie Production?

A photo of a man holding a camera.

It depends on whether we’re talking about the completion of principal photography, or from the time the idea took shape to the release of the movie.

A writer (or a whole team of writers) can work on an idea for a movie for years before it reaches the approval stage for production.

Once approved, the pre-production can last from a couple of weeks to more than a year.

This is where the budget for the film comes in, which can, of course, affect the pre-production period. So, an average feature film, with a modest budget, may take ninety days of prep, thirty days to shoot, and sixty to ninety days for post-production.

Given that the whole drawn-out process lasts for this length of time, answering the question of how long it would take to produce one minute of a movie, poses quite a dilemma.

The Period for Production of One Minute of Film

There is just no certainty about the length of time filming a minute of a movie will take. 

According to Gabor Kertai, Professional Film Editor and occasional Producer, a feature production may produce about one and a half to four minutes of finished film per day. But there will be frequent variations on this figure, depending on the difficulty of the material required.

This suggests that thirty to sixty shooting days are necessary for a ninety to one hundred and ten-minute feature film. Keep in mind also, that five to fifteen percent of the material does not make it to the final cut.

On average, Hollywood films run between ninety to one hundred and twenty minutes. Typically, a Hollywood drama is made with about a one in twenty shooting ratio (one in four for low budget), i.e., twenty minutes of footage is shot for every minute used. 

Therefore, the one-hundred-and-twenty-minute feature would have about thirty-eight hours of unused footage.

When creating a movie, the rule of thumb with screenwriting is that one page equals one minute of screen time for a ninety-minute film. When it comes to TV shows, a tighter schedule is followed due to budget and time constraints.

The director may wish to shoot a single, fifty-minute episode in a brief period of seven to twelve days. And that excludes any pre-or post-production.


A photo of two men editing videos.

Once the raw footage is captured, you then need to consider the editing process. Most professional editors, using a rough estimate, say this can take about one to one and half hours per minute of edited video. 

It may take two to three hours of raw footage for a two-minute final production cut. That’s’ plus or minus one and half hours per minute!

Producing Short Videos

When filming short videos, shooting can take anywhere from three hours to nine months. This depends on how the director visualizes the style and quality of the video. 

If the video is low budget, an estimate of three days for planning, one day to shoot, and one day for editing is necessary.

A high-budget video can take four to six months of planning and multiple days for shooting. The footage is then delivered to the client within a period of six to nine months. 

As an example, a promotional video may contain ten minutes of footage for every minute of the finished edit.

How Long Does it Take to Edit a One-Minute Video?

A photo of a man editing a video.

For someone skilled at editing, it should take roughly thirty minutes. If you need to familiarize yourself with the software, it could take four hours or more.

Professional video editing rates range between $75 to $150/hr, but this is also heavily dependent on your region, location, and level of experience. 

To edit a simple video, you should only need thirty minutes to an hour. So, a one-minute film should be completed in six to twelve days.

Factors to Consider When Filming a Movie or TV Show

According to Andrew Stapleton, a freelance science communicator and YouTuber, before you can start filming, it is important to ask these questions:

  1. Why do I want to make a video?
  2. What will my budget be?
  3. How long will it take?
  4. Who is my audience?

Once these questions are answered, the rather lengthy process will run relatively smoothly.

But budgeting is key when making a film. A producer will break down the script to decide how many actors are needed for a film.

They will be paid at a daily or weekly rate and the number of crew members needed will also get paid at a daily or weekly rate, but this is dependent on their position. 

The necessary equipment, locations, sets, and costumes also need to be added to the budget.

All of this has a bearing on how long it takes to complete filming.

In Closing

Based on discussions with professional filmmakers, the complexities involved in creating a film make it almost impossible to provide a definitive answer to how long it may take to get one minute of the finished film for movies or TV shows.

We can estimate how long it may take, but it’s like asking, “how long is a piece of string”?