Understanding Movie Credits or Titles

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Film Credits or titles, open and close a movie. Opening or head credits appear at the beginning of a film and the closing or tail credits are found at the end, like the names indicate. The order in which they appear can vary a little from film to film, but usually the most important ones appear at the beginning and all the rest at the end.

The First Opening Movie Credits – Introducing the Film

  • The first film credits that appear are the names of distribution companies presenting the film, like Universal, Paramount, Warner Brothers, Columbia, New Line, Disney, etc
  • Then some familiar or not so familiar names of studios and/or production companies
  • Then some movie credits go straight to the title of the film and leave the rest as end credits, and others would also include the names of the producer(s), director and stars before the title

Opening Movie Credits – The Lead People in Film Production

The rest of the opening credits, if not left for the end, would show some kind of variation of the following:

  • The Stars: All the big-name actors. They are the ones who make people want to go to the movies, so just the fact that they are part of the film, makes it a lot more valuable
  • Other Cast: Actors who have played other major roles next to the stars
  • Casting by: Person in charge of casting all the characters who have not yet been cast by the producer and maybe the director, and in charge of all the auditions
  • Costume Design: Person responsible for what the characters wear, especially important when it is a period piece. It helps give the characters their own personality. Works closely with the Director, the Production Designer and the DP to be on the same page as in the look of the film
  • Music by or Music Design: Person(s) in charge of the music, and when it’s playing in the background of a scene, it helps bring out all the emotional tension of what the characters are going through. If a scene is violent, it makes it more violent, if romantic — more romantic, etc
  • Editing: Person in charge of putting all the footage together. Good editors can bring something new to the film, but just as it can make the film better and even save bad scenes, it can make the film horrible even if the footage is great; that is why editing is so important
  • Production Design: Responsible for the complete look of the film, including sets, dressings, props and costumes. Helps the director get inspired and with the DP they control how the movie feels. Responsible for hiring art directors and also works closely with the Location Manager
  • Director of Photography (DP) or Cinematographer: In charge of how the film feels and looks in terms of light; contributes his own vision and is part of the big decisions as in what colors are the sets and the costumes, how many extras are in a scene and more
  • Visual Effects and/or Special Effects: In a visual or special effects loaded movie, these movie credits would also appear with the major people producing film, since this particular movie is all about special and/or visual effects
  • Executive Producers: These are the people with the money. They are the ones who finance the film. Without them — no film. They can make executive decisions but generally have no creative power

The Last Opening Movie Credits — The People Who Start the Whole Process

Sometimes these next three people appear at the beginning with the stars, if not, then they are the last opening credits to show:

  • The producer or producers: Everything starts with the producers. They are the people that put everything together, hire the creative team and other key people, and are involved with the film from beginning to end, from pre-production to post-production. They pay all the costs and arrange for the film’s distribution. The Line Producers hire all the key technical personnel, constantly monitors the numbers in the budget and knows which ones cannot change and which could be modified
  • Written by or Screenplay: The person(s) who bring the blueprint for the whole process. The ones who first determine the story, the events, major images, the characters and the dialogue. Writing for film is very different from any other writing, because the final or shooting screenplay is not the final product, it’s the beginning
  • The Director: The person responsible for communicating a vision of what is written in the script. He works with the writer, producer and designer in pre-production and establishes the staging of the action, designs the shots and guides the actors in their performance. And in post-production he works with the film and sound editors. After the producers he is the most involved person in the entire process of the the film from beginning to end

Opening Movie Titles

Only the most important and head people have been mentioned, who most of the time appear in the opening movie credits, but in total there can be hundreds of people involved, and all of them are very important for the process of producing the film to keep going forward.

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