Once a script has been written the line producer will need to determine a schedule and a budget to find out what it will take to make the movie by addressing these questions:
⦁ How many crew members need to be hired?
⦁ How large does each department need to be?
⦁ How many locations will be needed?
⦁ What types of resources are required?
Well in order to answer these questions it’s necessary to break the script down in a way that helps you determine what elements you will need to make the film. The first step, which is usually done by the first assistant director is called ‘lining the script’.
Lining the script is the process of breaking down each chunk of the film. Before we begin the process, you have to make sure that the script is properly formatted. When the script usually comes in for that first breakdown, it’s a mess. It’s been written by a writer to be read by people to get excited about, so often-times there issues:
⦁ Slug lines are not formatted correctly
⦁ Dual dialogues aren’t split right
⦁ Lines of action aren’t listed as an action
⦁ Parentheticals are misaligned
All those things need to be fixed absolutely. Beyond a shadow of a doubt you need to create a cohesive and clean production script. Now most professional writers will use a script writing program like Final Draft that automatically formats the script.
If not, you should import the script that you’ve written, whether it be in word or a text format, into Final Draft to ensure that the formatting is correct.
Since creating a schedule relies on the proper script breakdown, beginning with an improperly formatted script can give you incorrect results. There are many courses online to help with the basics – go to course.
When that script comes in and corrected to make it production friendly, then it’s broken down. What you want to do when your line in the script is to break the script down into scenes that are whole pieces, that can be shot at different times from the other scenes around them.
For instance, if I have a scene that is me in the living room with my family and then I get in the car and I drive to work, and then I’m at work – those are essentially four separate scenes. Four separate chunks:
⦁ In the living room
⦁ Getting into my car outside
⦁ Driving on the freeway
⦁ Being at work
I can shoot those at any different time. The conditions for each one do not require the conditions from the other scene, so that they can be scheduled in a creative way. I can schedule the outdoor scenes when the Sun is right and when the weather is perfect.
I can go and shoot the indoor scenes in the living room or the scene at work when it’s raining outside. Breaking down and lining the script is identifying all of the chess pieces that you will be able to move around and there are many different criterion with which you’re going to do that.
Eventually, when you’re going to schedule, let’s start by looking at how a scene is identified. Now in a properly formatted script the writer will have already divided the script into scenes. Each new scene begins with one line called the scene header that identifies the location in which the scene takes place.
It also states whether the location is an interior or exterior, as well as the time of day. It’s slug lines are very important, almost more important than the actual action that’s happening in the scene, for the purposes of breaking down a script.
At this point you want to make sure your slug lines are all formatted correctly, and that is interior or exterior, where it is – the kitchen or a field wherever – and then the time of day. For example, scene 41 identifies the story as beginning in a new location.
We first established the location as an interior location, then the location itself. In this case the baseball card store. Now following the location, we have a descriptor that tells us the time of day the scene takes place and there’s four options:
That’s it! There’s no ‘continuous’. There’s no ‘later’. There’s nothing else and the reason why that’s so important is when you’ve created that production friendly script, say you go talk to someone about only scene 17. If in the original script it said scene 17 into your kitchen ‘continuous’.
Continues from what? Is it night outside? Is it day outside? You have no idea but if you actually fix it to say ‘day’ or ‘night’, then everybody understands ‘ah, I need sunlight outside’. It’s a great idea to break down all the scenes into day or night, it will speed up production tremendously.