Making A Movie
August 3, 2010
Breaking Down A Scrip
A breakdown script meant to take each scene individually from your screenplay and to itemize exactly what is necessary.
Cast: The cast members that are in your scene. You may have a character model that is very complicated to create and won't be complete until the middle of production. Or a character that can only be puppeteered by one person, and you have to schedule production shoot days around his or her schedule.
Extras: This is where you list information about extras that make up a scene. They may be bots, puppeteered, or lower poly than the lead characters because they're in the background. It all gets listed here.
Static Objects: If it's in the scene and static, which means is it doesn’t have any animation, list it here. We're basically talking props. If an object has a mount point (so it can be attached to a character's hand like a bouquet of flowers), but doesn't have any other modifications to it (such as a rifle that fires), list those here as well.
Working Objects: The non-static objects, these are objects that either animate (conveyor belt), are triggered (gun that fires), or are more complex like mountable vehicles (car, plane, bike). They are much more complex than a static object, which is generally nothing but a mesh and a skin. The reason to list working objects separately is because they may need scripting to work, take longer to build and test, or may need to be triggered during a shot.
Skin/Model Changes: During the shooting, you need separate hair, makeup and wardrobe departments to handle the look of all the talent and extras in a production. List important changes that are needed for the scene (the director will work out the details with the modelers). For instance, if a character is wounded, you would list here that he's now wearing a blood-soaked suit.
Special Effects/Particle Effects: Particle effects are obvious. If you have a scene where you see the blowing car, you'll need a real fire and explosion effects (if it's not a CGI), also many blood and some body breakdown effects in horror movies.
Environment: Normally the location is listed as part of the scene heading on a breakdown sheet, and any special effects, such as rain or thunder, are listed under SFX.
Sound/Music: Not needed until post production, but this information is important to list. Someone has to pick and purchase, and acquiring music may take time, especially if songs need to be written or produced, of if h have to get the rights cleared for use.
Production Notes: A miscellaneous entry area where you put notes that don't fit or warrant their own section. For example, if you have a shot that requires a composite (a blue or green screen) you would list here the extra footage that would be needed (such as moving star field seen outside the spaceship port window).
Department Heads: Once you have the script breakdown, get copies of it and the script to each department head, or even the whole crew. The script just needs to have the scene numbers that correspond to each breakdown sheet. Don't bug them with a copy with all your lines and notes. Each department head reviews the documents and then sits down with the director to address details.
Hope this has been useful.
Download the Excel version of the Script Breakdown Sheet:
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