Breaking down a script is when the Producer goes through the script line by line and "breaks it down" into
elements for production. In this article, I am going to explain the process of breaking down a
screenplay and show you how to do it by hand or with scheduling software, as there are benefits to both.
First, this shows a script marked up the "old way" before the digital age. Things were highlighted and notes were
scribbled on the page by the Producer, the Director, the Director of Photography, the Prop Master, and so on. Notes for
sound and music were even written write on the script.
Marked Up Script
Marking up the Script
After the script was marked up, the Producer would then create a breakdown sheet for each scene of the script.
It would look something like this:
Each Category would have its own little box, and the Producer would write in what was needed for each
scene. These "breakdown sheets" were then handed to the appropriate department heads so that they could
prepare properly by either renting the item needed, buying it, getting it on loan, or even creating it.
Some of the department heads would include:
• Prop Master
• Head Makeup Artist
• Head Hairdresser
• Casting Director
• Stunt Coordinator
• Head Greensperson
• Head of Special/Visual Effects
So, for example if there were many EXTRAS needed for the scene, the Casting Director would have to make sure
that there were enough extras on the set.
Also notice that the PAGE COUNT of the Scene is specified on the Breakdown Sheet. For this
scene it is 2 1/8 pages.
So, how is this calculated? Again, in the "old days" the person charged with breaking down the script
would also have to calculate this number. They would take a pencil and a ruler and divide the screenplay pages
into EIGHTHS OF PAGE, thusly:
Dividing the Screenplay in /8's of a Page
This was done so that the Director, Assistant Director, and Director of Photography could estimate or "time" the
scene. At the end of the shoot day, the Production Manager needs to log the page count shot on something called
a Daily Production Report (DPR).
You are welcome to download our free Breakdown Sheet template below.
Breaking Down the Script with Film Scheduling Software
The modern way of breaking down a script is to use Film Scheduling Software. We here at Jungle
Software recommend our software,
Gorilla Scheduling , which has been around since 2002. There are others, and
you can see our Film Scheduling Comparison article to learn more and to compare them.
Watch How to Breakdown Your Script Video
Breaking Down a Script in Film Scheduling Software
One of the major perks when using Film Scheduling Software like Gorilla Scheduling, is that you can import
the screenplay into it from your favorite screenplay program. Once imported, you can navigate to any scene
and tag any element, such as a Prop, a Costume, a Special Effect, etc.
Gorilla Scheduling - Breakdown Screen
All Cast Members (CHARACTERS WITH DIALOGUE in the screenplay), will automatically be tagged and attached to
the scene. The PAGE COUNT will also be automatically calculated for you, so you don't have to take out
the pencil and the ruler and draw silly lines all over your script!
Instead of using a highlighter on your physical screenplay, you can attach elements to scenes directly.
Once you create an element, for example, a GUN, you can easily attach that element to any other scene in the script.
And when you are ready to print out a Breakdown Sheet, all you have to do is click a button.
Breakdown Sheet in Gorilla
For a complete working demo of Gorilla Scheduling click here for Macintosh
or here for Windows.