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Shot Lists and Script Lining: How to Prepare Your Screenplay Before a Shoot

You've finished your script. Now what?

Turning a screenplay into a reference tool for production is no small task. It requires going through every single page and drawing important information from them about what kinds of shots would work best to tell the story visually. To add onto that, you're not only looking for potential shots but how long each of those shots are going to last, as well.

There are many different methods you can employ to make this process easier and less painful, and in this video from The Film Look, you'll get to learn about three of them. Check it out below:

Create a shot list

One of the first things you might want to do after you finish your script and prepare for production is make a shot list, which is basically just a list of shots you want to include in your film, complete with details about location, framing and composition, action, dialogue, and a general shot description. There are tons of resources online that walk you through the process of creating one, but you can also just kind of figure out what works best for you and run with it.

Line your script

If you're not familiar with script lining, it's a really helpful method for not only knowing where shots open and close and how long a particular shot should be but for making sure you have enough coverage to give your editor once your project heads into post. It's a little tricky to describe the process on paper, so here's a helpful video to explain it:

Do a test shoot

Once you have in mind the kinds of shots you want to capture, you should try doing a test shoot where you take still images (or video, it's up to you) of each shot, or at least their general idea. This will help you know of any blocking, lighting, or other issues that may arise during the shoot, which is why it's great to do your test shoots at your location. If you can't, though, test shoots will still help you see any problems with blocking, framing, etc. beforehand, as well.

Breaking down a script is no easy task, but knowing a few techniques you can use to do it will at least leave you feeling prepared for the task ahead.

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