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scriptbreakdownandScheduling

scriptbreakdownandScheduling - print shot lists(for...

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Unformatted text preview: print shot lists (for department heads)? Is there any other information you want to give to the cast or crew that needs to be copied? For short films, I put all this together (schedule, cast/crew list, and any necessary maps) and hand it out as one package at the start of filming. For a feature film you might want to have an overall schedule and then a more detailed weekly schedule. What forms will other departments need? What will the editor and script supervisor need? Consult with them on this before the shoot. Make sure you have camera and sound reports if you need them. For a 16mm shoot, where you print all takes, you may not need them at all. 3) Forms for the production department. You probably need forms for scheduling, budgeting, petty cash, W-4 forms for payroll deductions, deal memos, releaSe forms and/ or contracts for actors and extras, and release forms for locations. Will you need some type of production report (daily or weekly)? This is standard for Hollywood but may be totally unnecessary for a low-budget production with less bureaucracy. Now that your basic organization is set, you can go on to figure out your schedule and budget SCRIPT BREAKDOWN AND SCHEDULE Your goal is to extract all of the relevant information from the script and lay it out in front of you in a clear and simple form so you can then organize it into the most logical schedule. The most common end product of this process is the 'production board' although for short films I use a simplified process that results in what I call a 'production chart'. RELEVANT INFORMATION What information is relevant? Although it may vary somewhat with each film, this is the information you'll want on your production board or chart. 1) Scene number 2) Location 3) A brief scene description if there are several scenes in the same location 4) Whether the scene is interior or exterior 5) Whether the scene is day or night 6) Estimated shooting time 7) Number of pages 8) Cast 9) Extras 10) Props 11) Any special information that will affect scheduling. You might also want to include other information that you don't need at your fingertips all the time but that does need to be pulled out of the script and kept track of somehow. That might include details of costumes, make—up, more pr0p details, or special equipment needed. STEPS IN THE PROCESS The following are the steps in breaking down a script and scheduling a film — read on for details. 1) Read the script and underline all relevant information. 2) Cut and paste the script, scene by scene. 3) Make or buy your forms. 4) Fill in breakdown sheets. 5) Transfer that information to production board strips. 6) Organize the strips on the production board. 7) Evaluate. The short cut. For short films (a 15-30 minute educational film, for example), I skip some of these steps and go straight from underlining the script to making a simple breakdown chart on one piece of paper (see p. 85). This breakdown chart has the same information as the breakdown sheet (although with less room for detail) and is almost identical to the production board strips (although it is horizontal rather than vertical). When you have all the information on the breakdown chart, simply cut it into strips with scissors. You now have the equivalent of production board strips. Organize these in whatever Order you want and glue or tape them down. I xerOx the final product for a neat finished production chart.‘ Long or short form? As with taxes, the shorter system (breakdown chart and production chart) is simpler to use. But, as with taxes, it isn't always appropriate. Look at the breakdown chart on p. 85. Can all the information you have fit on that? How many scenes (or groups of scenes that you'll count as one) do you have? Will these all fit on the form? You might be able to fit one or two more lines, or you could also uSe two pages -— but at some point it's easier to just use the standard system. A simple film can be organized simply — but to try and do that with a long or complicated film will most likely result in lesing important details, which will only hurt you in the long run. Standard procedure. What follows are the steps in the standard procedure. Details on the short-cut are included where appropriate. By the time you've gone through all the stages 82 with a complicated film, you should know the details of the production pretty well. It may seem repetitive and boring, but it's precisely knowing your script backwards and forwards that will be most useful later on. [f you know the script that well, you'll be able to do the necessary juggling later on much mere easily, and probably with better results. So try not to get bored as you go through all these steps. 1) READ AND UNDERLINE SCRIPT. This is the foundation that everything that follows is based on so do it carefully. Don‘t try to read the script while watching TV, just getting the gist of it. You want to catch all the elements and all the potential problems at this stage. Underline anything that seems important, including at least all the items mentioned in #8-11 of the 'relevant information' list on p. 81. You'll probably develop your own style. You might want to circle some things, underline others, use different colors for different things, use arrows or stars to mark special things you don't want to forget. I wouldn‘t go overboard at this stage because you'll soon be going over it all again soon to transfer the information to other charts (either breakdown sheets for a complicated film or the production chart for simple films). An accurate and complete script is essential for this step. Re- writes will throw you off. If the script itself isn't complete, then sit down with the director or writer now and fill in the holes. You can't do your job well without a final script. 2) CUT AND PASTE. This step will help you for a big film but you might want to skip it for a small one. Cut apart the script, scene by scene. When you have a scene that's only part of a page, paste it on a regular size sheet, preferably in the same position on the page that it was in the original script. It you have a scene that takes place in two locations, split it at this stage and label the parts A and B (or more if there are several locations). From here on, treat each part like a different scene. You might want to treat two or more very similar scenes (scenes at the same location, same time of day, that you will undoubtably shoot at the same time) as one. If there is any reason why these scenes might not be shot together, keep them separate. 3) CREATE YOUR FORMS. Now that you are pretty familiar with the script, you should be able to make up your forms to fit 33 BREAKDOWN SHEET comets) PRIMARY CAST SECONDARY CAST SPECIAL. EXTRAS VEHICLES WARDROBE SPECIAL EQUIPMENT SPECIAL EFFECTS NOTES woos — _ _ — I— — — — — — — _ — I — — _ — — _ “0119301 .LHVHO NMOGXVEIHE ISM sdmd UJFI the categories needed for your film. If you prefer, various forms can also be bought at some film supply stores. The following are two sources for forms and production boards: Enterprise Stationers (7401 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 90046) and Alan Gordon Enterprises (1430 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, CA, 90028). Also see p. 287 for a packet of forms including the forms shown in this book. You can personalize your forms by adding your company name, address, and logo to standard forms. Production boards and strips. You can buy these ready-made, of heavy cardboard or wood. They aren't cheap, although if you do big films it's a worthwhile investment. But if you're struggling to make a film on no money, they can also be home—made (I'd suggest heavy art board and cloth tape). The strips aren‘t very expensive and it's probably easier to buy them. Strips come in white and also in colors. Use any color code you want, based on the needs of your film. I use white for day scenes (interior or exterior), blue for night scenes that must be shot at night (uSually exterior), and yellow for night scenes that can be shot during the day ('day for night‘ —— interior scenes with either no windows or where the windows can be blacked out). 4) FILL IN BREAKDOWN SHEETS. Once you have these sheets, take your script and fill them in, scene by scene — one sheet for each scene (or group of scenes that you will film together). I find it useful to make these as complete as reasonably possible. How complete you make them may also depend on how much responsibility you want to delegate to other people. Do you want to list every prop or let the prop person read the script and figure it out and hope they are right? Fill the fomns out as completely as you want to, down to the level of detail you decide is important. I find it useful to list things that might not be obvious, such as specific kitchen implements. Do you want a toaster? A cuisinart? Put down things that are implied in the script even though they haven‘t been stated explicitly. For example, if scenes 14-16 are in the same room and 'Iohn' is specifically mentioned in scene 14 but not in the other two, but we don't see him leave and there is no reason for him to leave, then mark him down for scenes 1546 as well. Same for props. 86 BREAKDOWN SHEET scents) ‘JL PRIMARY CAST Angle .HMII ,1) Luis SECONDARY CAST gomlla SPECIAL EXTRAS EXTRAS LI (wwsallofi cllan')‘ Wu?|€ imwonué) _VEHICLE5 ANIMALS RDH BE ~ WA 0 \(LJRAT’ PvrSES SPECiAL EQUIPMENT SPECIAL EFFECTS NOTES (“4% Loo-Ilsue grad m‘»,. 87 Breakdown sheet details. Breakdown sheets are only useful if you take care to fill them out completely and accurately. The following are some things to consider as you fill in the forms. 1) Scene number. Group scenes together here only if you are sure they will be shot together. 2) Location. 3) Scene description. This can be just a brief catchword to let you know what the scene is if you have several scenes in the same location. 4) Interior or exterior. This will be important in knowing the type of lighting and perhaps the type of film required. 5) Day or night. Also note if the scene is a night scene that can be shot during the day (day for night — D/N). If you have scenes with people going out a door, you can sometimes tent in a small area outside the door and still shoot during the day. Night shooting is usually more difficult and so any scenes you can shoot during the day will give you more flexibility. 6) Estimated shooting time (hours). This section is diffiCult to determine but critical. Your schedule is only as good as y0ur estimates of shooting time. If these are off, your whole schedule will be off. To some extent your budget will determine your estimates. High budget shoots may take 3-4 months to shoot perhaps 100-120 pages. A lower budget TV movie may have to shoot the same number of pages in less than a month. Arbitrary time limits may be a necessary way to estimate — but that is also very dangerous. You need to know what y0ur director, DP (director of photography). and actors can do. If your director can't work that fast and/or your DP can't light that fast, you're in deep trouble. if you have unlimited money (and therefore time), you can base your estimates solely on the time your director and DP think they need. But if your money and time are limited, you need to make absolutely sure that your director and DP (and actors and crew in general) can work within the schedule dictated by your budget. 88 Once you've determined the average number of pages you'll need to shoot each day, decide which scenes will take longer and which will take less time than average and indicate your estimated shooting time on the breakdown sheet. I often know in my head (and sometimes indicate on the chart) whether my estimate is likely to be accurate, whether it‘s even a little gener0us, or whether it's a diffiCult scene to predict and I may run into trouble and go over (in which case I make sure to allow for that). .7) Pages. In addition to shooting time estimates, I find this helpful as a kind of double check. If the estimated shooting time seems much higher or lower than the average per page (for your film), you might want to re—check the estimates. 8) Cast. You may want to list all cast here, or separate out main cast and bit players. 9) Extras. Type and number of extras ("4 mothers with babies," "2 truck drivers," "7 miscellaneous passers-by") are probably all you'll need here unless some of them work more than one time in which case you'll want to indicate that. There are no rules on how detailed to get, just decide how accessible you need to have certain details. 10) Fraps. Decide how much detail you want in this section. You might want to separate out things like cars into another section. You might also want to make some distinction between background props and 'working props' that will actually be used in the scene and that may therefor be more important. 11) Special information. This can be anything that will affect scheduling, such as time restrictions for locations, actors, equipment, or props; weather or seasons; feeding or sleeping schedules for children or animals. Other lists. For a complicated film you might want to make some specific lists that either take their information from the breakdown sheets or are more detailed than the sheets. You might want a prop list, vehicle list, extras list, location list. This step can be very helpful for budgeting if you add a cost column next to every item. These separate lists are also useful to 89 keep track of what you have and don't have. As you find a prop, location, or extra, you (or the person in charge of that department) can write it dowu. Short cut. For the short method, you just put this same information (or as much of it as will fit) on the breakdown chart. 5} MAKE PRODUCTION BOARD STRIPS. You already have all the information you need for these on the breakdown sheets -— just transfer it (or as much as will fit) onto the strips, using colored strips if you want. Short-cut. For the short method, all you have to do is cut up the breakdown chart into strips. These can now be used just like production board strips. 6) ORGANIZE THE STRIPS. When you finish this step you'll have a complete production board or chart that will show the schedule for the film. Your task is to take all the strips and arrange them in the very best order to create a shooting schedule that is efficient and maximizes savings of time and money. Obviously there are many possible combinations — the more strips you have, the more possible combinations. You also have restrictions to work with. Spread out on a big table (the bigger the film, the bigger the table, or move to the floor). A) Sort your strips into groups. You might begin by putting all the same locations together, since that's usually the main criteria in scheduling. If you will be filming in several rooms of a house, put each room in a separate pile. B) Divide these groups into day-long piles. Each strip should list how may hours it will take to film that scene. You then need to know how long your shooting days will be. Are you working with a standard day or are you flexible enough to shoot 7 hours one day and 13 the next, depending on the needs of each scene or group of scenes? If you are working with a standard day, decide how long that is. The standard film day is 10 hours and standard Screen Actors Guild day is 8 hours. In some cases you‘ll have to pay overtime after that, sometimes not, depending upon the particular arrangements you make with your crew and cast. Plan for set-up (lighting) time and lunch and then decide how many 90 lllésaaaaass IIEEIEEEIIIIIIEE mm.) Ell-IIIEEEEEEEEEEEE W- IlflflllflfllIlflfllln III-IIIIIIIIME III-IIIIIIIIIIIIIIM- IIIHHIHIWIIIIII IIIIIIIIII-IIIIIII IIIIIIIIIHIIIIIflIm IIIIINIIIIIIIIIII ans IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII— IIIHIEIIIIIEIIEII'M brewillllllfififlnl .9. 3' i 91 at g. :i EEEEEW E lHVl-IO NMOGMVEHE 'nfncw all?) Luau hours you actually want to schedule each day. Some of that will depend 0n how much set up time you built into your shooting time estimates for each scene. You might, for example, need a half- day to pre—light a certain location, or extra time to move to a new location or an extra hour to load or unload equipment at a location — or your estimates might already include that. If one scene will take more that one day to shoot, make up another strip (‘scene x continued') and under 'hours' list only the number of hours you'll have to shoot on the second day. At this stage you should also think in terms of weeks. Will you be working 5 or 6-day weeks, or another schedule entirely? C) Put strips in order. After you have divided up your strips by days, you can begin to put them on the production board in some logical order, using dividing strips to separate days and weeks. You can buy strips that are white at the top and black below as daily dividers. I color the top part red for weekly dividers — that makes it easy to 'read' your production board. When you're planning to shoot odd hours (night or very early morning), remember that the crew needs 'turn-around time.‘ This is a certain period, usually 10 hours, of time off between hours you'll be shooting. That's a requirement if you're dealing with unions but it's also common sense when dealing with people. If the crew works until 1 am. one night, don't expect them to be on the set cheerful and ready to go at 6 am. the next day. If you need to film at night, try to ease in and out of it (working a little later each day before and starting a little earlier each day afterwards) or schedule night work next to a day off. As you plan your schedule, keep in mind when you plan to view dailies and allow time for that. D) Juggle the filming order. And rte-juggle. And juggle some more. This is the hard part. There are so many combinations and permutations of the strips that you have to figure out what's most important for your film. Do this process in peace. Close the door and give yourself a while — don't set it up so you'll have to stop half way through. The more you play with the strips, the more familiar you are with them (and therefor with the film, broken 92 down into its component parts), the easier this task will be and the better you'll do it. The strips are moveable, so shuffle them around. Try different orders. You might want to keep track of some combinations that seem to work especially well, either for the whole film or for some sections that seem pretty solid. Feel free to take notes. The more you play around with the strips, the more options you may discover. Priorities. What's most important for your film? What's important to schedule around ——- locations, cast, shooting sequence? The ideal would be for none of these to conflict, but the reality is that they all probably will and so you'll need to select priorities. Some of these priorities will be preferences, and some things will be necessary. It might be nice to shoot in sequence — that's usually easier for the director and actors (although it becomes less important the more experienced they are). But if one of your main actors has other commitments and is only available for part of the time, you have to shoot all his scenes then. If an actor shaves off his heard in the film, it's essential to shoot all the scenes with the beard before the ones without it. Unless you use a fake beard, which means you need a good make-up person and time to put the beard on each day, although it does give you more schedule flexibility. Guidelines. Here are some guidelines you can use to help plan your schedule. 93 l) Minimize movement —— of people and equipment to locations and within locations. This is the logic for shooting all the scenes which take place at one location together. 2) Don't shoot the hardest or most important scenes first or last. This includes the opening and closing shots of the film. Start with an easy scene or two, that will not stand out if the acting is a little sloppy, if the actors have...
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