Most filmmakers who set out on the task of creating a feature film are well aware of the problems and complications that can arise. However, learning how to really set yourself up for success is not always easy. Creating a feature film is about so much more than just working with yourself, you have to organize writers, your crew and even your actors to ensure that everything is pulled off well. There are several things you as the director can do to ensure that the process goes smoothly though.
First is ensuring the script is done before you start looking for actors heavily. This will allow plenty of time to ensure that the actors will be able to review a completed script. Additionally, having the script completed will mean that each character is fully developed. This information for each character can go a long way towards helping you to cast the appropriate actor for each role, rather than just trying to make someone potentially fit a role that they might work out for.
If you can help it, try to schedule auditions over several days. This will allow several opportunities for the actors in your area to make it to you, plus allow you a lot of time to review as many people as possible. If you can, recording the auditions will be very helpful later as you are trying to review the options. Making notes during each audition is also helpful. Remember, you need someone who can embody each character, rather than just speak and read words back from a page. You need someone who can actually sell the character that you are considering them for.
When you move onto working on the schedule, you really need to ensure you leave plenty of time. A lot of feature films are ruined because schedules run over, directors rush through filming, an actor gets sick and misses a day or you have to completely replace someone. These are problems that plague each feature film to some degree and need to be taken into account when creating the schedule. If you have taken these problems into account, you will not be as stressed out when they come up. Should you find that your shoot goes perfectly with no problems you can congratulate yourself, cast and crew on an incredible job done and enjoy an afternoon at the beach or throwing a party.
A final step is always ensure that you devote ample time to editing. You need to cut scenes, adjust sound, fix lighting and a plethora of other issues. Most directors find that editing the movie itself can often be a bigger task than actually filming. Ensuring you have enough time devoted to this process is essential. If possible, a minimum of a month will be good to make room for problems. If you work a job aside from creating films, you might need additional time, if filmmaking is your only job you may be able to finish in less time. More important than the time necessary is the quality of the work. Your work on the editing will ultimately determine the overall feeling of the film.
Taking the time to edit the movie properly, set up the script appropriately and find a great cast will pay off as your film comes to life. Great filmmakers are aware of possible problems and learn how to work around them. As a filmmaker if you can master these skills you will find that you are not only a popular director, but you are also able to create movies that are truly respected by your peers.