The 8-Step-Process of Script Breakdown

Words By Peter Marshall

One thing to keep in mind during this 8 stage process is that you should always start at the beginning of the script and work through each step to completion before moving on to the next step.

The reason for this is simple: as you read and re-read the script many times, not only will you get a sense of the flow and rhythm of the scenes, but you will usually discover something you never saw on the last reading.

Other than reading through the entire script first, you don’t have to follow the exact order as I have laid it out. The whole script will eventually be marked when you have finished, so the order is somewhat irrelevant. Just find whatever method you are most comfortable with and stick with it.

1. Reading the Script
The first thing you do is find a quiet place and read the entire script through without marking it. Of course, if something comes up as you read and you want to make a note, do it.

It’s very important that you read the entire script from beginning to end first because before you start to break it down, you need to know what the story is about and what happens to the characters – and it could also be the only time you will enjoy it!

2. Numbering the Script
You then start again at the beginning of the script and number it all the way through. Now if the script has already been numbered, still go through this process because you may find scenes that need to be split up.

For example: take a scene that involves a character walking from the outside of a tall building, entering the elevator on the main floor and then magically appearing in the Penthouse Suite.

In the script, this scene could easily be described and numbered as one scene. (Don’t forget what I said earlier about the first scripts you read are story scripts.)

Since it is highly unlikely that the director will follow this character all through his journey to the top floor, you should break up the scene from the Exterior (or at least from entering the elevator on the ground floor) and create another scene when he comes out in the Penthouse Suite.

It is always best to revert to the First Assistant Director’s number system early in pre-production because once the script is “locked” (re: you can’t change the numbers) you will then be into scene omits and adding A’s and B’s to all the scene numbers you want to change.

Keep in mind that the writer will now have to revise the script to your numbering system because you are helping to turn the reading script into the shooting script.

3. Marking the Set Descriptions
Now go through the script again and mark the Set Descriptions (locations) with a Colour marker.

Example: EXT: OFFCE BUILDING – DAY

This is called Slugline.

4. Marking the Characters
Next, go through the script, and every time a character appears in a scene, mark their name with a another marker.

If an animal plays a major role in a movie, I will give them a Cast number and mark them in the same Colour that used for the Cast as well.

5. Marking all Other Elements
Now go through the rest of the script scene-by-scene and mark all the other script elements you need to account for with a green marker. (ex: extras, props, stunts, special FX, visual FX, picture vehicles, animals, stock footage, video playback, photographs, hair, make-up, wardrobe, special equipment, music playback etc.)

NOTE: You can use one colour for marking these elements or you can use as many colours as you want for all the different elements. It’s up to you.

6. Page Count
Now get out your ruler and write down the Page Count for every scene in the script. The best rule of thumb for figuring out this count is the traditional method of 1 inch = 1/8 page.

7. Script Days
Script days are the number of “time transitions” or “movie days & nights” that appear in the story. (These are not the same as DAY or NIGHT on your Set Descriptions.)

I like to mark the Script Days last because it gives me time to read the script several times to get a sense of the “time transitions” between each scene.

Because you have to do this in your first week of prep, you will have to make a guess at many of these “Day/Night” breakdowns. It’s only when you go through the script with the director that you will get his thoughts on the movie’s time changes.

You also want to compare your Script Days with the Script Supervisor, Costume Designer, Hair and Make-up. The Script Days are very important for all these departments because it gives them a sense of how many changes they have to create per character. It also affects the Budget as well.

8. Number the Cast List
You don’t put the cast (character) numbers on your script, but you need to record them and then input them into your schedule. This will then create the number system you will use for the Cast Day-out-of-Days (I will explain more later).

When you start to number the cast, you must first remember the POLITICS of this business. In other words, which actors get the numbers 1, 2, 3?

On most shows this will be pretty obvious. But “when in doubt – run and shout.” If you are not sure, ask the producer to number the first couple of cast for you. For example: in the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, who would you mark as #1 and #2 on the Call Sheet?

Other than the first 2 or 3 spots, you can number the cast anyway you wish. I prefer to number the first 10 cast in “order of importance”, and then I mark the rest of the cast in “order of appearance” in the script. Which ever way you do it, just keep it consistent.

NOTE: During prep, make sure all script changes go through the 1st AD before they are distributed. Because you make many notes on your script based on location scouts and department meetings with the director, your script should be considered the “prep script bible.” Also, as soon as the script supervisor starts, make sure she gets a copy of the latest revisions and a copy of all your notes.

To learn more, please come to our course.

Gregory Spoke About The Course

We made him sketched his body and moved around in the class at times.

It was what happened when Gregory Fred Perry attended our course early this year.

He was a very committed guy even during his tight schedule sleepless nights, turned up on time in the next morning classes.

We made him sketched his body and moved around in the class at times. It was what happened when Gregory Fred Perry attended our course early this year.He was a very committed guy even during his tight schedule sleepless nights, turned up on time in the next morning classes.

Posted by SGMP Film Production and Management Course on Tuesday, 1 August 2017

What is Line Producer?

Line producer could be entitled as Production Manager in some production firms. The word Line in a film’s production separates the Budget allocation above the line expenses and that of from below the line.

The Budget allocated above the line are mostly fixed, they are basically included the Story rights and fees for Writers, Producers, Directors and Cast.

And the below the line Budget allocations covers almost all expenses incurred and related to all negotiations with various aspects which includes location, scheduling and sets — that need to be estimated, budgeted and kept reined in.

Line producers enter the filmmaking process during development and stay through the production process. When the line producer received a script of and asked to estimate the below the line production expenses for the film in any format or categories, he or she has to determine the most appropriate crews and equipment and the related parties and areas that will best contributing to the needs for the production.

The line producer is also to be able and being expected to create a filming schedule after breaking the script, determining how long each scene/shoot will take place to estimate the daily cost.

Based on those estimates, the line producer prepares a budget for the producers to show how much funding they will need.

Once the final budget is firmed up and endorsed by the producer or executive producer in charged, the line producer will have to keep production costs in line as the film moves through its shooting schedule.

A Line Producer possesses skills of a combination of knowledge, experience and personality traits.

He/she needs to work very closely with the director, Assistance director as well as all parties involved in the production. Ability to breakdown all scripts and translate them into production requirements and filming schedule as well as taking a lead to all parties for a smooth and safe production not only dictates the quality of a Line Producer, but also the quality of a production process that leads to the final results of the production.

It is a very challenging role to play as a Line Producer which might stimulate your interest and confidence.

This course promise to guide you to be able to
. works with the director, production manager and department heads to prepare the final budget, shooting schedule and production dates
. oversees hiring crew, finding equipment and suppliers, scouting locations and activities of various departments
* monitors the budget and production schedule, revising the schedule and controlling expenses to keep the film on time and within budget
* answers to the studio and acts as a liaison between the crew and the producer
* approves or denies additional expenses
* How to hire and negotiate with crew
* helps the director reach his artistic vision for the film
* deals with on-location crises

To succeed, you need:
* strong problem-solving skills and the ability to make decisions quickly
* flexibility to deal with unexpected changes
* a calm approach during crisis management
* the ability to balance the creative and practical in making decisions
* diplomacy in handling requests for funds
* negotiating skills with suppliers
* the ability to work with many different types of people, commanding respect and providing encouragement
* willingness to work 80 or 100 hours a week during the production phase
[sources: Skillset.org, Honthaner]

Introduction to Storyboarding

Storyboards are illustrations that represent the shots that will ultimately make up a movie. They allow you to build the world of your film, before you actually build it.

There aren’t any strict, exacting rules on how to do storyboards, conveying information is what’s important. Storyboards are ultimately a technical document, a tool. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a skilled illustrator or not. This can work just as well as this. Even if you struggle with perspective or can barely draw a stick figure, you can still convey what types of shots you want and their basic composition.

Who storyboards? Typically, the director sits down with the storyboard artist to help articulate their vision.

However, it’s not uncommon for cinematographers and production designers to join in the process as well. I usually meet with the director and produce rough thumbnail sketches that summarise the important information in each panel, and then afterward I will fill in the details on my own.

Meeting with the directors once again after completing the panels to make sure everything works. We’ll then share the completed panels with the rest of the team.

Let’s breakdown the parts of the storyboard.

The panel, or frame, is a rectangle that represents what the camera will see. Panels come in a bunch of different shapes. Pick a panel shape that matches your shooting aspect ratio. Square, widescreen, really, really widescreen.

A person drawn really small in the panel is a wide, or establishing shot. A big head taking up half the panel is a close up. Deciding where you put the person in your frame is the basis of your composition. This may seem really basic, but this has a huge impact on how you prepare for your shoot.

These illustrations give your cinematographer a starting point. Things like, camera angles, lighting, depth of field, the whole gamut of decisions can be informed by the storyboards. It’s also a great way to decide what you’ll need out of your locations. Do you really need a giant bottomless pit? Or can you get away with one visual effects wide shot and then cover the rest with tighter shots?

Okay, let’s talk about arrows. So now that we have a panel with a character in it, let’s say that character is moving to the left. By drawing an arrow pointing to the left, we show where that character, or door, or dinosaur is moving. There’s no real rule to drawing arrows, and everyone has their own personal style, but what’s important is that your arrows are easy to read, and make sense. Here’s some examples of arrows. Arrows for characters moving towards camera. Arrows for characters moving away from camera. This character is kneeling down, and this character’s head is falling off. Arrows within the panel usually mean a subject is moving in the shot. Arrows around the edges usually imply some sort of camera movement. So here, the raptor lunges right, and the camera pans left.

Now let’s talk about camera movement. Camera movement arrows also aren’t really standardised. But let’s go over some common ways camera movements is illustrated. Dolly movements are typically done with one arrow, often narrowing a little bit to suggest movement in or out of 3D space. Both dolly shots and zooms can also be illustrated by placing arrows in all four corners of the panel. This shows a widening, or narrowing of perspective. You can draw a panel within your panel to show how far your dolly or zoom goes. Clearly conveying information is key, so it’s better to over-explain than to confuse people.

Pans are often shown with an arrow on the side of the panel, either pointing to the left, or to the right. Tilts up and down are done much the same way, except with the arrows on the top or bottom of the panel. You can also elongate the panel to fit the entire shot in a single drawing. Since this can get a little confusing, it’s ok to make a note indicating the shot is tracking, versus panning, or dollying versus zooming. Because arrows are often used the same way in both instances. You can make your notes beside the panel, or in the arrow itself. Sometimes you’ll need more than one drawing to illustrate what’s happening in a single shot, especially if it’s a really complicated action or camera movement.

When you take panels with angle, composition, onscreen movement, and camera movement, and then combine these panels into a sequence, you got the foundation of your movie. Storyboards are particularly useful for preparing scenes that require multiple effects techniques. But this scene from truck-flipper versus bus-puncher, we use storyboards to decide what was going to be stunts, what was going to be practical on-set special effects, what was going to be green screen, and what was going to be CGI, based on exactly what kind of action was needed in each specific shot. Without planning ahead, a scene like this would’ve been impossible to shoot in the amount of time we had available.

Storyboards are typically created based off the completed script. But if you’re doing a story that’s extremely visual, storyboards essentially can be your script, like with Mad Max: Fury Road. Since it’s such a visual film, the beats were more effectively planned out with pictures than with text on a page. While this is an extreme example, this holds true for preparing all visually complex scenes.

There’s also plenty of other alternatives to storyboarding. Stanley Kubrik used actual photos from his locations scouts to find his compositions. It’s also worth mentioning that filmmakers who adapted comics and graphic novels often use the original artwork essentially as the storyboards for the final film. You can make animatics of your sequences on your computer to include motion and timing. You can also video tape your pre-vis which is really useful for complex action. You don’t need the actual set, costumes, or magical flying speedo-bikes to test out your ideas.

In the original Star Wars, George Lucas used real World War II documentary footage to help pre-visualise space battles. Animation has also been used to help capture complex sequences. Jurassic Park used stop-motion animation to pre-visualise the dinosaur scenes. When the decision was made to use CGI in the final film, they’d already planned ahead in painstaking detail, and knew exactly what specific movements the CGI was going to need to be able to do. By the time Peter Jackson did Lord of the Rings Trilogy, digital technology had developed to the point where they were able to motion-capture the cave troll sequence, and then move a digital camera around in 3D space to pre-visualise the entire scene in a virtual setting.

There’s no hard and fast rules or one way to do it. But the ultimate goal is planning, and clear communication. So whatever tools is going to help you prepare and share your vision the most, use it, it will pay off when you get to set, and will help empower you to make the best film possible.

If you have any questions or would like to share some of your own storyboards, please visit our forums. I’ll see you next time guys.

A Nice TVC Just launched

This Short film was produced and directed by the Son of our local veteran Creative Director Lim Sau-Hoong (林少芬).

Sau-Hoong did tremendous world class Advertising films in the past many decades, such as George Lam (林子祥)《你怕黑嗎?》
Guinness Stout:

The Series Branding Ads of China Bank:


中國銀行系列廣告之深遠意義篇


中國銀行:竹林的靜與動

… just to name a few. And it is really a few……

I text to congratulate my old friend Sau-Hoong of her son’s excellent production.

It was so well plotted, scripted and what pleased me most was, the almost perfect match of the casting.

Yes, very well casted, not only their character’s design, but also their dialogue projected on screen.

A little from all, together it's more. 一人一点心,社会更温馨

A retired English teacher runs into a mischievous group of boys in his neighbourhood. Shocked at how poor their English was, he takes it upon himself to teach them the language…一位退休英文老师梁老师,看到邻里一群到处捣蛋的男孩,萌生帮助他们学好英文的念头…#一人一点心 #社会更温馨 #Alittlefromall #Togetheritsmore

Posted by “A little from all 一人一点心” by CDAC 华社自助理事会 on Monday, 10 July 2017