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What Is a Script Breakdown?

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  • Written By: Dee Jones
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 11 April 2014
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A script breakdown is part of the pre-production process for a film, a television episode, a play, or even a comic book or comic book series. When making a script breakdown, the script is looked over carefully, and several lists are made of everything that will be needed during production. These can include a list of locations needed for each scene, a list of the props that need to be procured, and a list of the costumes the actors will be wearing. One of the primary reasons for doing a script breakdown is to figure out how much a production will cost, and what cuts might need to be made to keep the production under budget. A script breakdown can also be used to analyze a script’s dramatic and creative elements, and make sure the story fits together in a way the audience will find satisfying.

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Creating a script breakdown can be a challenging and even tedious process, and this step in the pre-production phase is often skipped for those reasons. But most agree that creating a script breakdown is a vital and necessary part of the producing a script. The script is read thoroughly, and detailed notes are made of exactly what will be needed for the production, from hiring the actors necessary to fill all of the roles, to hiring animal actors and stunt doubles, to acquiring any special equipment like fog machines or vehicles. If the production will require any special effects, this is also accounted for. For a film or television production, notes need to be made of any special locations that will be needed, and which scenes will need to be shot outdoors instead of on a sound stage.

Sometimes, the creation of a storyboard is part of the script breakdown process, especially for motion pictures, cartoons, and animated films. In a storyboard, small hand drawings or computer graphics are used to illustrate the sequence of events in a script. A storyboard can also be used to show the exact positioning of the characters, objects or props in a scene. This can be particularly useful for complex or heavily choreographed scenes, like fight scenes, fast-paced action scenes, and space battles.

The script breakdown can be an important part of scheduling a scripted project. With films, the more time that is spent on a production, the more it will cost, and just a few extra days of filming could mean going over budget. A script breakdown can be used to make sure as much gets done in as little time as possible, and that the necessary people and equipment will be on hand when required.

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