FILM PRODUCING TIPS

 

Topics of discussion:

  1. Script analysis and the “Shooting script”

  2. Preliminary script breakdown, revisions and coordinating

  3. Identifying crew and setting key responsibilities

  4. The importance of budgeting  

The Shooting Script

A shooting script is the version of a screenplay used during the pre-production phase of the film. There are distinct differences between a screenplay and a shooting script as the shooting script makes use of SCENE NUMBERS and another formatting as well as a specific procedure with specifies how a script revision should be implemented and circulated.

After a shooting script has been widely circulated, page numbers are locked, and any revisions are distributed on revision pages. Thus the production office might issue a revision containing new pages 3, 9, 17, 45. This avoids having to print and distribute an entirely new draft for every set of revisions, which would entail crew members having to transfer all their handwritten notes to a new script. If scenes on page 45 become longer, they will be continued on new pages 45A, 45B, and so on; if the scenes on page 45 are all eliminated, a new page 45 will be issued with the word “OMITTED” as the absence of page 45 might look like an error.

Script Revisions and Coordinating

Revision pages are distributed on colored pages, a different color for each set of revisions, with each changed line marked by an asterisk in the right margin of the page. The progression of colors varies from one production to the next, but a typical sequence would be: white, blue, pink, yellow, green, goldenrod, buff, salmon, cherry, tan, ivory, white (this time known as “double white”) and back to blue (“double blue”).

When the Assistant Director believes that there are more changed pages that are worth swapping out, the Script Coordinator may issue an entirely fresh script in the appropriate revision color. In some cases, usually before the start of principal photography, an entirely new “white draft” will be distributed in lieu of colored revision pages. The pages in a white draft are renumbered from scratch, while the original scene numbers are maintained.

When the revisions are made to a shooting script, they must be accomplished in a way that doesn't disturb the pre-existing scene number, as what follows a scene number identifies a specific setup within the scene actually shot during production.

Page numbers in a shooting script are handled in a similar way. When revision pages are distributed, the page numbers must flow sequentially into the pre-existing page numbers. For example, if page 10 is revised such that it now occupies a page and a half, the revisions will be distributed on two pages numbered 10 and 10A. These two pages will replace page 10 in the outstanding drafts. Conversely, if pages 15 and 16 are shortened such that they now occupy a single page, the revisions will be distributed on a single page number 15-16.

Script revisions are marked with asterisks in the right-hand margins of the revision pages. When many revision marks are presented on a single page, or within a single paragraph or scene, the marks may be consolidated into a single mark. For example, if all the lines in a given passage of dialogue are marked, the marks can be consolidated into a single mark appearing alongside the name of the speaker above the dialogue. In the case of scenes, this single “consolidation mark” appears alongside the scene header. For pages, the consolidation mark appears beside the page number.

Identifying Crew Needs & Responsibilities

Identifying crew needs and knowing what to look for in a crew member is an important skill and responsibility for the producer/ production manager. A proper crew list must be created and is based on the shooting script along with a number of other factors (budget, locations, length of shooting, single cam vs multi-cam).

Some key crew positions include (but are not limited to): Producer, director, director of photography, camera operator, 1st assistant camera operator, key grip, key gaffer, best boy, production designer, art director, costume designer, key make-up artist, sound mixer/boom op, VFX supervisor, SPFX supervisor, etc.

Importance Of Budgeting

The process of budgeting is equally as important as sticking to the budget throughout production. The way in which a film budget is managed can make or break a film.

Film budgeting refers to the process by which a line producer, unit production manager, or filmmaker prepares a budget for a film production. This document, which could be over 150 pages long, is used to secure financing for and lead to pre-production of the film. Multiple drafts of the budget may be required to whittle down costs. A budget is typically divided into four sections:

  1. Above the line

  2. Below the line

  3. Post-production

  4. Other (insurance, completion bond, etc)

Film financing can be acquired from a private investor, sponsor, bond, product placement, film studio, an entertainment company, and/or out-of-pocket funds. A producer, line producer, unit production manager or filmmaker must make use of his/her abilities in managing costs as well as being able to identify how to eliminate costs. Examples of ways to eliminate costs are: eliminate night shoots, avoid filming in famous places, use non-union or unknown talent, avoid using stars, ask for the above-the-line crew to defer their salaries, use a non-union crew.

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