So you think you have everything ready for your film or video shoot? While your cast and crew might be ready and your script ready to go, there’s one important thing you need to do first –  break down your script!


Breaking down a script for a film or video production means listing and identifying your characters, costumes, props as well as your set needs so you know what you’ll require per scene. Normally, it’s the film producer then the first AD that does this. If you’re tight on budget and DIY-ing your film, you might need to do this yourself.


The Breakdown


Each producer will do it differently. Some use software, some do it old school with colored markers, the important thing is to first create a legend. In other words, you can color code different sections to make it easier to read at a glance. Some of the major categories to include are the following: character, props, set dressing, sound, and costume. You may need more, depending on your film or script. Basically, each of these categories get their own designated color.


Getting To the Nitty Gritty


Once you have the legend (and the markers) you want to break down the script scene by scene. This means moving through each scene then using the appropriate colored markers to highlight the props, characters etc. Everyone will use a different approach, the important thing is that each department you hand off the script breakdown to will be able to reference it and know what they need to prepare (in terms of props and costume) without having to go through the entire script.


Organizing Your Breakdown Sheet


Once you have all the scenes broken down, it’s time to organize it before you can give it off to each department. You can write the scene’s slug line at the top of the sheet. Then start filling in all the important sections of the breakdown sheet. For instance, which characters are required at the scene? What props and costumes do they need? What the dressing for the set needs to look like?


Once you have the sheet breakdown, you can distribute this to various departments including the costume, prop, production designer, stunt coordinator and more. They can use the sheet for reference to know exactly what you expect from each scene prior to shooting.


There’s one thing to note, however. Sometimes, a script won’t contain specific details like the the type of costume the character should be wearing at a particular scene. You need to speak with the director and ask what they envision for the scene. If this person is you, then it will be easier since you can just fill in the details and offer additional info.


What’s great about breaking down a script is that everything becomes crystal clear. You don’t need to leave everything to chance. In the rush of filmmaking and shooting, It’s easy to overlook the little details so having everything for reference during film or video production will make life easier.