Script Breakdown Header Image

6 Ways To Quickly Create A Script Breakdown

If you’re a Producer or 1st AD, then you’re no stranger to script breakdowns. The process of marking a script occurs to highlight elements of a screenplay that relate to specific production departments. This is done before production begins as it can affect the order of your shooting schedule. Follow these steps to effectively mark up your script.

1. Read the Script Like it’s Your First Time

Before you mark anything on the script, read it from an audience members perspective. You only have one first impression of the story, so give yourself a chance to connect to it. Beyond the emotional connection, the more familiar you are with the story, the more likely you will be to identify all the elements once you begin marking the script.

2. Look Out for Potential Formatting Issues

After reading your script thoroughly, read it once more, but this time keep an eye out for any formatting errors that may cause issues when scheduling or importing the script file into software such as Movie Magic Scheduling.

Common Formatting Errors to Look Out For

  • Scene locations should be phrased consistently throughout the script.
  • Make sure scene numbers have been generated.
  • Character names should be consistent as well.
  • Scene headers should be formatted only as INT or EXT (interior or exterior).
  • Scene headers should be formatted only as D or N (day or night).
  • Learn more about How to Properly Format a Script Before the Script Breakdown.

3. Begin Breaking Down Your Script into 8ths

Divide every page into eight, 1 inch parts. This measurement is used to estimate the screen time and shooting time for a scene. Just make sure that you and your script supervisor are on the same page. Sounds funny, but, it’s important that both of you measure scenes in exactly the same way. On a typical dialogue-heavy indie production, you can expect to shoot roughly 5 pages per day where one page equals one minute of screen time.

Breaking Down the Script into 1/8ths
Breaking Down the Script into 1/8ths

4. Use Colored Highlighters and Pens to Mark Your Script

The purpose of marking is to identify select elements in every scene so they can be included in the script breakdown sheet and shooting schedule. The best method to achieve this is to use highlighters and pens. It could be a time consuming process, but it’s extremely important. Script breakdowns have a specific set of colors which you can follow, however, it’s not essential. If you’re using custom colors, be sure to create a legend on the script and breakdown.

Depending on the project type and genre, there’s a chance you’d want to create more tailored element categories and colors. For example, if you are shooting a horror film, you may want to define all the elements related to prosthetics. If you are shooting a western, you may need to add categories for horses and weapons. Just make sure to define the custom category and color in a legend.

Script Breakdown Colors
Script Breakdown Colors

5. Use a Script Breakdown Sheet Template

Once you’ve finished marking your script, you’ll need to input the elements into a Script Breakdown Sheet. This is the summary list of all the elements in a specific scene. Scheduling software like Showbiz Scheduling can be expensive, so we’ve created a free script breakdown sheet template.

Download The Template

Script Breakdown Sheet
Script Breakdown Sheet

6. Generate Strip Boards Using StudioBinder

After the script marking is finished, it’s time to lay them out in a stripboard. Stripboards are color-coded strips that represent the scenes of a script. The strips are reordered to ultimately become the shooting schedule. You can use production software like StudioBinder to make you more efficient.

Stripboard by StudioBinder
Stripboard by StudioBinder

StudioBinder a leading film production software company that helps production companies manage their crew, schedules and call sheets. Learn more about StudioBinder by following them on with @studiobinder on Twitter and Facebook.

Guest Post

Author Bio:

Darya Danesh is the Cofounder and Content Director at StudioBinder, a leading film production software company that helps production companies manage their crew, schedules and call sheets.  With over 10 years of experience as a Producer, LP & UPM, Darya has worked on large projects including PBS, Direct TV, Syfy, Animal Planet, Fox, YouTube, Sony, Atlantic, Island Def Jam, Gaiam & BMW.

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With an insatiable appetite for sales, marketing development and success, he loves tackling new projects.

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