Once you have your script complete, the next step is to figure out exactly what you need to make your film. It’s time to break it down!
A script breakdown is essentially extracting all of the necessary information from your script. To do this you need to read through your script and every time a location, prop, costume, or character is mentioned write it down.
This is the script for our short film Backstage. Let’s take a section from the script and break it down. Everything we highlight is something we need to make the film.
For this scene we know we need to cast someone to play Jack who is The Flyswatter.
If you haven’t already, start to think about the characteristics your characters have, and then put a call out for to cast your actor. We cast an actor called Daniel Lemon to play Jack.
In this scene we also need a group of people to be wrestling fans that walk past the camera. This is a very small part for people to play, but we still need them to help tell the story. The wrestling fans in our film were just crew members.
To help identify them as wrestling fans, Ed the sound recordist is wearing the same bandana asThe Medium, a Wrestler in the film.
It shows he is going to the wrestling event to support him, and we threw in the the foam hand as this is a well known costume that people would wear when going to a sporting event.
Since this film is set in the 80s all of the costumes need to fit that era, so we needed to dress Jack in washed out jeans and a multicolored jacket.
The final costume looked like this.
We did not go for a multicolored jacket because we managed to get this denim jacket which is actually from the 80s, and nothing says 80s like double denim. Having this list just made sure we had something for our actor to wear, which fit the tone of the film.
The props we needed in this scene were wrestling leaflets, which are shown earlier in the film to help dress the backstage set, and help set the scene that this is a wrestling event. The black sports bag which he is carrying in this scene was also used earlier in the film.
The 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco really helps to ground this film in the 80s. Having access to a vintage car like this upped the production value of the film and really helped put a time stamp on the film. We wrote it into the script because we knew we could get access to it for free, as it is owned by Richard’s Dad.
The location we needed was an exterior venue where a local wrestling match might take place. We chose a public car park with very few buildings and signs surrounding it.
We couldn’t point the camera towards anything that showed we were shooting in 2017, so this empty car park worked perfectly. We also chose this location because we were able to place the car under a flood light, reducing the time to set up complex lights.
Once we’ve gone through the entire script we create an excel document to store all of this information. In the document we have 4 columns with the first being the task. This is where you put the name of all of your characters, props and costumes.
The next column is Delegate, this is where you can add the name of the person who is responsible for completing that task. The 3rd column is for notes with information where you might obtain costumes or props. Finally the 4th column is where you can tick off a complete task.
When all of this section is green you have obtained everything to make your film.
Throughout this breakdown document we break down everything we need into different sections. We start by making a list of all of the characters we need to make the film, and when we have cast them, their name goes in the notes section.
Next are the locations we need, and when we have them complete the address and contact details of that location also go in the notes section. For the costumes, each character gets their own section so we know which character is wearing what item of clothing.
Finally we split the different props and set dressing into the different locations of the film. We do this so we know exactly what we need to take to each different location.
Having a document like this let's you and your production team know what you need to make your film on different days and at different locations. We use Google Docs to do this as it is free and everyone can see what they are responsible for.
Breaking down the script gives you a list of all of the pieces you need to make your film, it’s just up to you to put them together.
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