As I mentioned previously, my partner and I finished the production draft of MY SPIRITED SISTER last week. We’re now on the verge of preproduction and took the first steps this week.
On Tuesday, we came up with a schedule, setting the oh-so-important deadlines. We’ll be launching our IndieGoGo campaign on July 17 and it will run through August 30. That’s forty-five days, which statistics have shown is the optimal time frame. We will then begin preproduction on September 3, the day after Labor Day, which will put us on track to begin shooting the last weekend in October. Those dates are tentative as there are numerous factors to consider when scheduling shooting dates. It is still good to have an overall time frame.
Today, we did our script breakdown. That entails getting a page count for each scene and highlighting essential elements of each scene, cast members, extras, props, set dressings, etc. This information is entered onto forms, one for each scene. Using these forms, reports can be generated for all the necessary aspects of production. In this way, we can make sure we have everything we need on set the day we shoot that scene.
Breaking down the script this way is also essential to creating the schedule. It is common knowledge that films are generally not shot in sequence. Scenes are scheduled to make the shoot faster and less expensive. When all of the information for each scene is organized as I described, it is much easier to plan the schedule.
The job of script breakdown generally falls to the first assistant director or the unit production manager and there is software available to do it. The software is fairly expensive and we are still on a very low budget. I did the breakdown myself, manually for ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?. The books and mentors that I have consulted on directing recommend up and coming directors do the breakdown themselves in this manner in order to become familiar with the process. Directing is like any other manager’s job. It is very helpful to understand what everyone else does.
This time, since Cooper and I are co-directing, I had help. Doing the breakdown manually is more time consuming, but it’s not difficult or tedious. I honestly find it to be fun. Perhaps my opinion will change with experience, but for now, it’s enjoyable. We use colored pencils to underline the elements in each scene, using a different color for each category. It kind of reminds me of arts and crafts from elementary school.
It’s also enjoyable because it signals the shift from writing to filmmaking. I love both, but it gives me great pleasure to know that a script we have labored over will end up on the screen. I enjoy the collaboration and camaraderie on set. I also love the hectic atmosphere. There are always curveballs popping up and being able to think on one’s feet and apply creative solutions is essential. I love the challenge.
We will also continue to write throughout the entire process. We’ve got to write the expanded screenplay that will enable us to turn MY SPIRITED SISTER into a feature someday. So much fun being able to work hard on something we love.