When it comes to a script breakdown there are multiple categories to consider. You can use programs such as Movie Magic Scheduling, which can be purchased on amazon or Final Draft Tagger, also available on amazon. These pieces of software are and amazing help for your script breakdown but if you cannot afford the software you will need to do it the old fashioned way. You can breakdown your script on the computer if you prefer it but I like to go through a printed copy, I find I miss less when I have a paper copy.
First you will need to:
- Print out the latest version of the script. It is very important to make sure you are working with the most recent version of the script. The last thing you want to do is breakdown the wrong script and then have to start all over. If necessary you can purchase a printer or fresh ink on amazon.
- Read the script. The more familiar you are with the story the less likely it is you will miss anything.
- Gather all of your colored pens, pencils, and markers.
- Break the pages down into 8ths. This means starting from the top of the page you break the script down into 8, 1 inch rows. If the scene exceeds 8 rows it becomes 1 page and whatever the remaining 8ths are. If a scene is 2 and 4/8ths of a page, it should translate to approximately 2:30 of screen time. The script is broken into 8ths to help accurately time the script and decide how much can be covered on shoot days.
Now that you have done that you can use the following legend to go through each scene in the script and mark it according to its needs. This guide gives you the standard formula for a standard script breakdown.
|CAST – SPEAKING ROLES||RED||UNDERLINE|
|EXTRAS – SILENT ROLES||YELLOW||UNDERLINE|
|EXTRAS – ATMOSPHERE||GREEN||UNDERLINE|
|VEHICLES & ANIMALS||PINK||UNDERLINE|
|MAKEUP & HAIR||BLACK||ASTERISK|
|SPECIAL EQUIPMENT||BLACK||BOX AROUND|
Once you have your script marked, you will need to create script breakdown sheets, this can also be done using Movie Magic Scheduling but you can create your own or download one in our free stuff section.
You will need to color code your script breakdown sheets as well, printing each page on the following colors:
|DAY EXTERIOR – YELLOW|
|NIGHT EXTERIOR – GREEN|
|DAY INTERIOR – WHITE|
|NIGHT INTERIOR – BLUE|
Once you have done all of this you can create your stripboard.
Each strip should include the following information:
- Scene Number
- Scene Name
- Number of Breakdown Sheet
- Page Count – This is where the breaking pages down into 8ths comes in.
- Location Name and Number
- Day or Night
- Interior or Exterior
- Characters names and numbers
- Extras – How Many?
- Special Notes: Animals, Vehicles, Music, Effects or Special Equipment
You can create your strips in a Word document or using Excel. They can also be made in Movie Magic, which can be purchased on amazon as well. I like to make a computer document as well as strips on Bristol board that I can put on the wall of the production office. If you cut long, individual strips, you can arrange and rearrange them as you make changes to the schedule and then the information is available to any one who comes through the office.
Now that all the prep work is done, it is time to create the schedule. The first schedule that you create will not be the only one but the better you know the material and the kinds of things you will be dealing with, the easier it will be for you to make smart scheduling choices.
If you are looking for more information on breaking down a script, check out this post from StudioBinder.