There is a time in every filmmaker’s journey when making a feature film becomes a driving, burning desire! And making your first feature is the rite of passage into the world of professional filmmaking. Assuming you’ve become comfortable making short movies, then making your first feature will be just another step in an exciting career.
But as they say… Making a good movie starts with a good screenplay. And assuming you’ve written, or you control the rights to a fantastic script that you would like to produce, you’ll need to figure out just how much the sucka will cost.
BREAK DOWN AND SCHEDULE
Breaking down the script means you go through your screenplay, number each scene and highlight each element, including locations, characters, props, make up, wardrobe, picture vehicles and special FX…
My producer friend Forrest Murray always says the script, schedule and budget are the same document. You’ll need all three to make a movie… But in the process, if you change one document, you’re actually changing all three.
I’ll chat about this some more in future lessons. For today, lets focus on your initial schedule so you can eventually get to your budget.
- After you highlight each element, you’ll want to figure out when you want to shoot your movie and how long you plan to shoot. You can determine this by choosing how many pages you want to shoot per day. Then you can decide if you want to shoot 5 days or 6 days.
- Everything in the script will eventually impact your budget.
- There is software for this. Final Draft offers an add-on called Tagger. Tagger allows you to go through the script and pick out elements and highlight them in various colors. Once all elements are selected, you can eventually import this list into your budget and schedule software program.
- After giving this your best effort, if you still feel stuck, venture into your network and seek expert advice. You’ll want to find a Line Producer, Production Manager or a 1st AD to help. If you’re lucky, maybe someone will help you as a favor or the promise of a screen credit. If not, see how much they charge for an initial breakdown and schedule.
- Eventually, these elements will have a price in your initial budget. What is the price of each element? How much does your movie cost?
Many motion picture professionals make a living just breaking down, scheduling and budgeting movies. So it’s a pretty complicated and creative area. As a first time feature filmmaker, it would be great to partner with an seasoned 1st AD or Line Producer who could guide you through the process.
Film Scheduling Software
One of the latest software programs to help you break down your script is called LightSPEED eps. In addition to being an awesome script breakdown and scheduling program, LightSPEED eps allows you to centralize your production information and provide secure access from your computer, wireless device, from anywhere in the world.
With this web-based production management software, you can provide your your production team with current information from anywhere in the world. In practical terms, let’s say you are based in LA, but your First AD is based in NYC. You will now have the ability to oversee all aspects of your project. And if something changes, you will be able to notify your staff of critical updates in real time.
After getting a face-to-face demo with the management team, I left the meeting convinced that LightSPEED represents the future of script breakdown and production management. And because these guys are very indie filmmaker friendly, they have provided Filmmaking Stuff readers with a FREE trial.