PRODUCTION BOARDS (The Key to Filmmaking Success (Learn How… 11 Simple Steps)

2 REASONS A PRODUCER/DIRECTOR/WRITER FAILS AS A FILMMAKER

First is falling in love with a Poor-Fair Script and the Second lies in not preparing a Production Board (aka: Shooting Schedule) to be organized for your shoot.

Huh? What do I mean (as if it ain’t obvious).

First is Screenwriting. If “It Ain’t On the Page, It Ain’t On the Stage”. If you have written a screenplay without a proper “Beat Sheet” (aka: Step Outline) you are guaranteed to fail.

Yes, you might (A) have the script and (B) get some financing and (C) make the film but if “It Ain’t On the Page, It Ain’t On the Stage” and your final product will not get past a film festival or two screening.

Second reason for failure, assuming you have the great script, is that you are not properly organized to do-the-shoot.

And, the only way to be properly organized is to prepare a PRODUCTION BOARD… Yourself.

When I present my 2-Day Film (Live, DVD or VOD) School I spend approximately 45 minutes to teach you how to prepare a Production board by doing these 10 Simple Steps… (1) Re-Read, (2) Highlight, (3) Breakdown Sheets, (4) Line Out, (5) Eighth-It-Out, (6) Header Panel, (7) Color Coding, (8) Strips Fill-in, (9) Insert Strips, (10) Page Count & (11) Availabilities.

To learn these easy-to-do 11 steps to prepare a production board (aka: strip board) and to be totally organized and ready for a storyboard and a shot list only takes 45-minutes with my VOD or DVD Film School.

However, if you don’t get it then below is a good tool for what a production board is and how to prepare one by an excellent internet site called. StudioBinder.com, which has superb resources for filmmakers.

Stripboard-3
“Production Boards can be purchased on the web at either Samuel French or Writers Store websites”

Once a PRODUCTION BOARD is prepared (CAVEAT: by you, not by hiring someone) then you will be organized with an efficient SHOOTING SCHEDULE with respect to Locations, Logistics, Moves, Availabilities, Props, Wardrobe, Stunts, Effects, Extras, etc.

Do Not-Do A Production Board…. GUARANTEED SHOOTING FAILURE.

Below is an organized explanation, in a step-by-step process, by a company, “STUDIO BINDER “, that has an affordable software program and app for hire to help you be organized… Let’s go through their 5-6 Steps.

PREPARE A PRODUCTION BOARD & A SHOOTING SCHEDULE

Breaking Down a Script (using a Script Breakdown Sheet) - StudioBinder
“FYI: If not redirected to software click Studio Binder at https://www.studiobinder.com/script-breakdown-software/

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

Before you mark anything on the script, read the script from an audience’s 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. 

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

 After you have read the script all the way through, read it once more, this time scanning for any formatting errors that may cause hiccups when importing the script file into scheduling software such as Movie Magic Scheduling. Here are some of the most common formatting errors to look out for:

  • 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 Format a Screenplay at …. https://www.writersstore.com/how-to-write-a-screenplay-a-guide-to-scriptwriting/

3. Break Script Pages into 8ths.

 Marking 1/8s of a page is exactly like it sounds. 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 “scripty” (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.

Script Breakdown – Breaking Down a Script into 8ths – StudioBinder

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

 Again, the purpose of marking is to identify all the elements in a scene so they can included in the script breakdown sheet and shooting schedule. It’s standard to use highlighters and pens to identify each element. This is tedious and careful work. Missing elements can impact departments, so it’s important to be detailed.

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.

Script Breakdown Sheet – Marked up script – StudioBinder-min

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

TypeColorMarking Style
Cast – Speaking RolesRedUnderline
Extras – Silent RolesYellowUnderline
Extras – AtmosphereGreenUnderline
StuntsOrangeUnderline
Special EffectsBlueUnderline
Sound Effects/MusicBrownUnderline
Vehicles & AnimalsPinkUnderline
PropsPurpleUnderline
WardrobeBlackCircle
Makeup & HairBlackAsterisk
Special EquipmentBlackBox Around
Production NoteBlackUnderline

Cheat Sheet for Script Breakdown Colors

Stripboard-2
“A 6-8 Panel Board with a Header Panel and 4-6 packet of 50 colored strips costs approx $120”

 

5. Input Markings into a Script Breakdown Sheet Template

 After marking the script, you’re ready need to input all of elements into a Script Breakdown Sheet, a summary list of all the elements in a scene. Since scheduling software like Movie Magic Scheduling can be a bit pricey, we created a created a free Script Breakdown Template. Just open the link and click File > Make a Copy to save it to your Google Drive.Download Breakdown Template

Script Breakdown Template – Breakdown Sheet – StudioBinder

6. 

With your script marked, you’re ready to start laying out your scenes into a stripboard (or production board). Stripboards essentially hold color-coded strips that represent the scenes of a script. The strips are reordered to ultimately become the shooting schedule.  

Happy Filmmaking,

Dov Simens

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Happy Filmmaking.

2 comments on “PRODUCTION BOARDS (The Key to Filmmaking Success (Learn How… 11 Simple Steps)”

  1. joe sixpak says:

    many links 404
    time to update this blog before you recycle it again
    otherwise it was VERY useful except for the dead links

  2. Jiah Miesel says:

    AWESOME INFORMATION as always Dov! I am so grateful I attended your Film School. Thank you for doing what you do.

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