What details to include in your shooting script.
Formatting is ultimately up to you and depends on what works best for your team or production company. If you use screenwriting software, it may have a shooting script template you can use. Most likely, you’ll want to create a spreadsheet-style layout with a header row that labels each column of information. The information you include depends on the needs of your team but may include the following:
- Scene numbers: These are important to ensure every scene gets covered and will come in especially handy when editing starts. To break down smaller scenes within a scene, use the alphabet (e.g., Scene 1a, 1b, 1c, etc.).
- Camera shots: Include how many and which camera angles to use in each scene, what types of shots are needed (close-ups, medium shots, over-the-shoulder shots, POV shots, etc.), and any special information needed for those shots, such as lighting directions.
- What to film: Describe what’s to be shown in each shot, including the character names, what actions will occur, what objects or B-roll should be captured in each setting, and any desired acting notes.
- Sets and props: Name the location for each shot, list any special props or set decor involved, and make note of key costuming details.
- Special effects and stunts: Describe any stunts, special effects, or transitions that will occur during the filming or editing (fade-ins, cross dissolves, abrupt changes where you’ll cut to the next scene, etc.) and any special considerations needed to allow them to happen.
Editing systems for shooting scripts.
Big productions for feature films or television use a color-coded system for making edits. Since revisions will occur throughout the pre-production and production phases, this is a great way to make sure everyone knows where certain scenes are in the revision process. Pages will be printed on nine different colored papers to signify which stage of revision they’re in, and if there are more revisions, the color cycle repeats.
1. White: Unrevised.
2. Blue: First revision.
3. Pink: Second revision.
4. Yellow: Third revision.
5. Green: Fourth revision.
6. Goldenrod: Fifth revision.
7. Buff: Sixth revision.
8. Salmon: Seventh revision.
9. Cherry: Eighth revision.
Go from shooting script to polished project.
A detailed shooting script will help your shoot run smoothly because it’s like a blueprint for building your vision. Everyone on the production team can reference the shooting script as a source of truth for each day’s activities. And there’s no one this document is more important to than the script supervisor or whoever is in charge of checking that everything has been captured.
Use your shooting script to take notes as you film.
A script supervisor performs a key role when it comes to ushering the footage you get into its final form as a well-edited video or film. Even if you aren’t working on a big-budget production, it’s crucial to have someone perform this role. The script supervisor keeps an eye on what’s being shot, looks out for continuity issues with wardrobe and other items, and takes notes on the script as the shoot moves along.
Your script supervisor makes sure that each shot that’s needed is captured in a satisfactory way. And they keep notes about which takes have the best versions of certain lines or which scenes might require “pickups,” or reshoots, to blend one take into another.
“When I served that role, I would record notes like, ‘Take three was better than take two, but we need a pickup because they screwed up this one word. So we’re going to use take three with take four as a pickup starting at this point,” says Monnin. “You note all of that as you go to make sure that not only did you capture it, but you captured a good, usable version of it.”