3 Things You Didn’t Know about Pre-Production of Your Favourite Movies

Outrageous, unbelievable and inspiring things that happened at the start of the creation of three classic films.

Most people know that the creation of the movie starts on a set — with the shout of “Action!” from a director, and then actors masterfully acting out their scenes take after take. However, what many people don’t realize is that the process of creating a film starts long, long before anyone ever gets to set. The film pre-production process has many steps: from coming up with the story to storyboarding the film to writing the script to casting the film, and beyond.

Do you know the pre-production stories behind your favorite movies? There’s a good chance that the reason these movies are so good is because of the work that was put into them before they even started shooting. Here are 3 surprising things you probably didn’t know about the pre-production process of some of your favourite films. There’s a good chance these movies are classics because of the outrageous, unbelievable or inspiring things that happened at the start of each’s creative process.

The Wizard of Oz Had Many Writers

The Wizard of Oz is undoubtedly one of the most popular classic films of all time. However, its pre-production process was anything but straightforward. Most movies have a writer at the helm, or a team of credited writers that work on creating the movie. However, The Wizard Oz was different. The writing of the movie was credited to three writers: Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf. In reality, though, the script was written by at least 17 writers who didn’t receive credit — all who had a hand in shaping the script.

One person who worked on the writing of The Wizard of Oz was famous poet Ogden Nash, though he did not receive a credit on the film. The chaotic writing process was only the start of an even more chaotic filming and production process, which included fires, severe medical issues, a revolving door of directors and much more. Luckily, all of the craziness and confusion paid off, and we were left with the beloved movie we all know and cherish today.

Magic Shaped The Island of Dr. Moreau

Marlon Brando starred in The Island of Dr. Moreau — but it took some work to get him to sign on. The movie was originally supposed to be directed by English director Richard Stanley, and Stanley was absolutely intent on getting Brando to agree to be in the cast.

Just to make sure that Brando would sign on, Stanley hired a warlock named Skip, who could use his magical powers to sway the actor. While Stanley was meeting with Brando at his house in Hollywood to pitch the movie idea to him, Skip performed a magical ceremony that would convince Brando to say yes.

While it’s unclear whether Skip’s powers were actually real, Brando did end up saying yes and the actor signed on for The Island of Dr. Moreau. Eventually, Stanley was fired as director of the movie — but he would occasionally sneak back onto the set in costume hoping to be an extra in the film (he appears in a few shots).

No One Wanted to Make Back to the Future

Back to the Future is undoubtedly one of the most classic teen movies (and 1980s movies) ever made. However, you might be surprised to find out that Back to the Future almost never happened.

The writers of the movie, Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, had already made two movies together: 1941 and Used Cars. 1941 was directed by Steven Spielberg, and it was a complete box office flop. Used Cars was directed by Zemeckis, and it was also a flop.

The writing team re-joined forces to write Back to the Future, and they felt good about its prospects — but they didn’t want to have to rely on their friend Spielberg again to get the movie made (since they hadn’t had success so far). They decided to pitch the movie to many movie studios, and studio after studio said no. In fact, 40 studios turned down the movie.

During the process. Zemeckis was tapped by Michael Douglas to direct Romancing the Stone. When that movie succeeded, Zemeckis proved to himself he could make a great film. This convinced Spielberg that Zemeckis was a trustworthy filmmaker, so he and Bob Gale put the money up to produce Back to the Future (and they didn’t need to rely on a big studio to get it done). Ultimately, it was a smashing success — and the rest, as they say, is history.


The best movies are often the product of long, involved and intriguing pre-production processes — and that’s true whether the movies end up somewhere prestigious like the Cannes Film Festival, or whether they’re gigantic box office hits that draw in zillions of people to theatres across the world. 

If you want to create a hit movie and master the pre-production process, you can rely on tools like a storyboarding template. With online storyboarding, you can get your story and scenes fully laid out before you assemble the rest of your film team, so that you can have a clear vision of what you’re making before you bring your filmic dream to fruition on the silver screen.