We just got two new questions about indie/amateur movie production:

The second already got closed, the first is on it's way there (three close votes).

I might be wrong, but this looks like a crossroad to me.

Do we want practical questions regarding movie production on this site?

Meaning: Do we want people who are planning to produce/producing a movie asking questions about real world problems regarding the production process. (like the two above questions)

The Help Center does not really cover those topics clearly:

What topics can I ask about here?

If your question generally covers …

  • Analysis of content or theme of all forms of Movies/TV
  • Identifying a Movie or TV series (see below for details)
  • Questions about a Movie/TV show's production.
  • The works of a director / an actor / a writer related to Movies/TV
  • Movies also includes Made-For-TV movies, Direct-to-DVD, and Mini-Series.

Please note that the following subjects are considered off-topic here:

  • Distribution
  • Movie/TV purchasing/viewing locations
  • The operation of playing a movie whether it be digital or physical format.
  • Unimportant trivia that does not add to the understanding or appreciation of the title.
  • TV news and current affairs
  • A title's release date or rumors about a specific title or series.
  • Opinions about or recommendations for a movie or TV show

"Questions about a Movie/TV show's production" could be interpreted in a way that allows those questions, but I think the intention behind this point was asking about the production of finished works of art, not future or on-going productions.

So, do we want to extend the scope to questions for and from movie makers, or do we want to focus on works that are already published or are being produced by major production studios.

I am really torn on the topic and can find good points for both opinions. Either way I think we should settle this now and clarify the scope for the future.

  • I wonder if Scifi & Fantasy ever had a similar discussion (appreciation vs. production). Are they allowing questions about writing scifi/fantasy stories? Probably not, I guess.
    – magnattic
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 15:22
  • 4
    Found it. Seems like they allow it as long as it's more about the content rather than the process.
    – magnattic
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 15:24

4 Answers 4


It depends

I agree that:

This is for enthusiasts for finished movie and TV works.

However, that should not mean that all practical production questions are categorically off-limits. Plenty of theorists, critics, and viewers hold that facts about production are relevant to film appreciation.

As just one obvious example: "long takes" in live-action films are chiefly notable because of the herculean effort they require, even though it seems obvious it couldn't make any difference to the plot or characterization or other content whether a sequence is shot as a single or multiple takes.

So, depending on what OP means by "practical," the answer is either:

  • yes: it is fair game to ask about the production details behind a finished movie or TV show; or

  • no: it is not fair game to ask for advice about making a new work

And I suspect the dividing line could become blurry, like if somebody asks a question about a real work by presenting a hypothetical about creating a new work.

  • 2
    That's indeed pretty much the established philosophy.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 13:43

I wanted to wait a while to see whether someone else would jump in - as someone who's been with the site almost from the beginning I feel I may have too settled a view on what is on topic.

Personally I don't think that this is a site catering to people making movies. This is for enthusiasts for finished movie and TV works.

There is already a stack exchange beta site devoted to Video Production, which although mostly aimed at the more amateur end is certainly related to this question. The site is struggling a little and would welcome support.

  • For me the problem with those two exemplary questions isn't that they concern production-related topics, but that they are a bit broad and unclear in the first place anyway (especially the second one), disregarding their on-topicness. But my "unclear what you're asking" or "too broad" reason has probably gone victim to the IMHO not entirely appropriate "primarily opinion-based" (but that's an entirely different problem not fixable until the SE framework lists each and every close-reason individually instead of accumulating them into a majority).
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 21:33
  • 1
    My way of putting it is that this site is for movie/TV appreciation, instead of creation.
    – user209
    Commented Apr 13, 2014 at 23:28

Because of a recent question about this I feel moved to answer this.

I agree with iandotkelly's opinion and I want to clarify why:

Personally I don't think that this is a site catering to people making movies. This is for enthusiasts for finished movie and TV works.

This is exactly what I think.

While Video is appropriate for some production questions:

If you have a question about

  • broadcast, film or location recording techniques

  • shooting, editing, color grading, and distribution

  • post-production techniques

  • asset management, media, and file formats

  • installation, configuration, and operation of hardware or software related to these topics

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

It isn't broad enough for non-technical questions, specifically those that relate to pre- and post-production.

I certainly think that people who want to make films and have questions about how to do it deserve a place but I don't think that place is here.

I believe that going with a policy similar to Sci-Fi/Fantasy's would be really effective:

I'm going to make a case for allowing limited writing questions on this site, and see how it stands. There are certain elements which are unique to scifi/fantasy. For instance, ways of magical creation. Methods for traveling the galaxy. Ways to terraform a planet. These and many more might just fit the bill, if we can only massage them a bit. But anything that is very generic to writing (Plot, characters, etc) should be sent off to the writers camp.

In the question spawned by the example linked at the top, the OP is asking very specifically how he should do this. My recommendation was that he rephrase the question to ask generally how it's done in films. So, a question would go from:

How do I cast an actor that's an older version of another one?

  • How do I identify an actor that might plausibly play a 50-year old version of Jonah Hill in this context? There's no way that Jonah Hill himself can somehow close the two-decade time difference between his earlier and later selfs, or can he?

This is pretty much non-answerable... other than to say "That's the point of the entire casting process". There is an infinite, subjective list of people who may be viable 50-year-old versions of Jonah Hill (most of whom are non-famous) and the assertion that Jonah Hill can't play himself at age 50 is clearly unfounded.

Rewording this way, however:

What methods are used in films to show characters at different ages than they actually are?

This may be a bit broad and might lead to some lists but it's certainly answerable and it's not a question asking for advice for the Asker's specific project. It will also be much more useful to other people because it's neither specific to the Asker's project nor about Jonah Hill.

I think encouraging Askers to make their questions applicable to a wider audience is perfectly reasonable and great for the health of this site. We don't have another site to refer people to, as Sci-Fi/Fantasy does with the Writer's site but this method will allow us to at least address a good number of them (hopefully).

  • 2
    The quoted text in the example is from the unedited version of the question.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 3:43

I'm happy with the current setup, explaining 'how it was done' not 'how to do it yourself'.
These are different worlds.

It's also a hundred times easier, even if it turns into a long essay with illustrations, to explain how something was done than it would be to teach someone with no real prior experience or expertise how to do it themselves.
The first can be a bit hand-wavy, even jokey, with pictures and wikipedia links. The second needs to start with camera/lens/lighting in quite some detail & would totally lose 9/10 of the audience here. It would simply not be interesting to most people, and would also include a lot of opinion over which light to put where or what shutter speeds etc. Dull as ditchwater unless you happen to be a cameraman.

If you were a cameraman, gaffer, DoP etc, then of course your first comment underneath would be how to do it differently. Such is the grist of technical discussions.

Though probably on-topic for Video Production, even they don't really attract this type of question - it seems to be predominantly "how do I make FFMPEG do this thing?" [with the answer invariably being either a lot of code, or "Why don't you just use a video editor like everybody else, then you can actually see what you're doing?" ;)

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