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What is a High Production Value?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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In the movie industry, the quality of a film is referred to as its “production value.” Films with a higher budget will usually have a high production value, because of the greater investment of resources. It is the goal of most movie makers to make films that are stylish, attractive, and use high quality special effects in combination with exotic locations. These films can be quite costly to make, representing a major gamble on the part of potential investors.

In some cases, films are deliberately made with a low production value, because the campy aspect of cheap movies is enjoyed in some genres. “B Movies,” as they are called, are characterized by unrealistic special effects, poor continuity, and grainy film. In some cases, these films are enjoyable to watch and often fun to make as well. Low budget film making is an art form, and especially in the 1990s when individuals could easily record and distribute video media, it became quite popular.

Most moviegoers expect a high production value when they go to the theater, however, and as a result, Hollywood directors make an effort to achieve realistic looking effects and sophisticated camera shots. Big budget films often use unique locations, stellar special effects, and sophisticated technology to create what they hope will be a crowd pleasing film. In addition, many big name actors will increase the production value of a film.

Many low budget filmmakers work to achieve the look of a high production value film, either by investing a great deal of resources in one or two scenes, or using various tricks of the trade to enhance the quality of the movie. These tricks include playing with camera angles, relying on a strong script, using lesser known character actors, and integrating unique lighting techniques. Using old skills in a novel way may increase a movie's production value, making it ultimately more appealing to investors.

In order for a film to succeed commercially, it usually requires a high production value unless the film makers have made a conscious artistic decision to go for the look of a low production value film. As a result, potential producers and investors like to be assured that the movie they are financing will meet this criteria, resulting in a major return at the box office. Many filmmakers provide investors with a proof of concept, showing how the movie will be presented and how novel techniques will be used. This is often the case with movies that rely heavily on digital elements.

Ultimately, high production value is the result of a combination of factors, including a strong script, good acting, cinematography, and special effects. A determined filmmaker can make an excellent film in a basement with the right techniques, although the millions of dollars behind big budget movies usually make it easier.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a SmartCapitalMind researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By recapitulate — On Feb 24, 2011

I have become a little tired of the efforts for "high production value" in recent years. It seems like many film making teams see this as meaning "special effects" more than anything else. The number of movies that are just high quality works with good actors and a strong plot and few extra, unneeded frills seems to have greatly decreased in the last couple of decades.

By afterall — On Feb 22, 2011

The real art in film making is getting a finished work to look like it has a high production value on less money. This is actually easier to achieve than people might think, because a large amount of the movie production budgets in many projects err greatly on the side of excess. Often, too, the post-production publicizing has the greatest effect.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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