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Issue #178 – November 12, 2017 (Creating a Shooting Script from the Story Script)

Issue #178 – November 12, 2017
(Creating a Shooting Script from the Story Script)

When a script is first written it is unofficially called a “story script” and usually has no scene numbers. These scripts typically have more “written exposition” to help the story flow evenly from one scene to the next which helps the reader better understand the narrative of the story – readers who are usually producers, executives, actors, private investors and bankers.

Once a film goes into production, a “shooting script” (the story as seen by the camera) is created by the Director and First AD. This involves numbering the script, splitting up scenes so they make more sense logistically and creating better scene descriptions based on the actual locations you will be filming.

For example: let’s say you have a scene that has a character arriving in a car outside of a building, walking into the front lobby of that building, entering the elevator and then appearing in the Penthouse Suite.

In the story script, this scene could easily be described (and numbered) as one scene. But since it’s unlikely you will be able to follow this character from the exterior of the building to the top floor in one shot, you could break up the scene from (Sc.1) the Exterior (Sc. 2) entering the front lobby and then into the elevator (Sc. 3) in the elevator (Sc. 4) he enters the Penthouse Suite.

Five Types of Scenes in a Shooting Script

Here are five “types of scenes” you need to think about as you break down any script. You need to approach the filming of each of these “types” of scenes differently because they all contain unique elements which will affect how you shoot the scene and how long it will take to shoot the scene.

1. Dialogue Scenes (talking, talking and more talking!)
These scenes normally take less time to shoot than action scenes.

2. Action and Practical Special Effect Scenes
These scenes include stunts and practical on-set special effects and they usually take longer to shoot than dialogue scenes

3. Visual FX Scenes
These scenes include all types of visual effects shots such as green screen, plate shots, crowd duplication etc. and they usually take longer to shoot than dialogue scenes.

4. Key Scenes
These are scenes that introduce characters or contain major story points. They could be dialogue scenes or action scenes that establish the mood of a story and may require more time to shoot than “regular scenes.”

5. Act Break Scenes
These scenes are written specifically for episodic television series (or web series) and are important because they are used to keep the audience “hooked” into coming back after the commercial. (Soap operas are a good example of this kind of hook into a commercial break.)

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