Marking a script is the process of highlighting all the key elements in a screenplay that will be included in a script breakdown sheet and lead to the creation of a stripboard and shooting schedule. In this article, we’ll review the conventions of marking a script.
1. Read the script as if you were a viewer
Pro Tip: Who Marks the Script?
Scripts are marked by different people, at different stages of the project. The producer usually completes a simple script breakdown first in order to create a preliminary shooting schedule and budget. The 1st AD then conducts a more comprehensive script breakdown to create the stripboard, breakdown, and production shooting schedule. The DP marks the script to generate a shot list and equipment requirements. Other department keys (i.e. production design) will do their own analysis as well.
This will continue through pre-production, production and post-production and includes foley, music composition, voice-over and ADR work.
2. Scan the script for formatting errors
- Scene locations should be phrased consistently throughout the script.
- 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).
- Scene numbers have been generated.
Learn more about How to Properly Format a Script Before the Script Breakdown.
3. Break script pages into 8ths
Some things that take longer to shoot: Stunts, Crowds, Busy Locations, Car Chases, Entrances and Exits, Action Sequences, Gunshots, Musical Performances, Practical Special effects, etc.
Pro Tip: The Trouble With Musical Performances
Be especially conscious of the screen-time:page count ratio for musical performances. Otherwise you may not budget enough time to shoot what you need. It’s common for screenwriters to summarize on-screen performances into brief one-liners like “Stuart performs his song.” It may be only a few action lines in the script, but the performance could take 2-3 minutes of screen time. The page count should reflect this and be rewritten as 2-3 pages as well. We suggest writing out all of the lyrics as dialogue, with plenty of beats, paragraph breaks, and descriptions .
4. Mark the script using color highlighters and pens
You can find “standard” script breakdown colors for marking a script below. It is not essential that you use these colors, but it is important to be consistent and methodical. If you’re using custom script breakdown colors, make sure to create a legend on the script and breakdown.
Pro Tip: Creating New Element Categories
Depending on your project, you may 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.
Standard Script Breakdown Colors
|Cast – Speaking Roles||Red||Underline|
|Extras – Silent Roles||Yellow||Underline|
|Extras – Atmosphere||Green||Underline|
|Vehicles & Animals||Pink||Underline|
|Makeup & Hair||Black||Asterisk|
|Special Equipment||Black||Box Around|
5. Input Markings into a Script Breakdown Sheet Template
6. Use Software Like StudioBinder to Generate the Stripboard
COMMENT & SHARE:
Have you ever prepared a Production Board (aka: Strip Board)?
If you have please share with everyone (A) what you learned and (B) why it is so imperative to do.
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