How to Write a Shooting Script
A shooting script is the version of a screenplay used on set
by a production team. Learn how to convert an original screenplay into a
working shooting script that can be used on set.
What Exactly Is a Shooting Script?
A shooting script is a production-ready screenplay that
includes detailed instructions for the film crew. The shooting script is
created by the director and cinematographer by breaking down the scenes and
assigning numbers to each shot within a scene. Camera shots and notes for
lighting, props, and script revisions are also included in shooting scripts,
allowing the production team to follow along on set.
What Is the Difference Between a Spec Script and a Shooting Script?
While on set, teams use production-ready shooting scripts;
in the meantime, people write spec scripts (short for speculative screenplays)
with no guarantee of purchase or production. Spec scripts tell a story and
highlight a writer's voice; therefore, technical details are less important.
Shooting scripts, on the other hand, outline camera shots scene by scene and
include helpful production notes about sound effects and special effects to
assist the on-set production crew and the postproduction team.
How to Create a Shooting Script
Typically, film directors and cinematographers create the
shooting script prior to production. To create a shooting script, follow these
1. Create a storyboard first. Before you can start making a
movie, you must first create a cohesive visual style to bring your story to
life. A storyboard is a visual representation of your screenplay that shows the
production team how the finished product should look. The production team can
plan cinematography, actor blocking, visual effects, and other technical
aspects of filmmaking based on the storyboard.
2. Create a shot list. During preproduction, divide the
original screenplay into scenes and number them in the order they will appear
in the feature film. Label each shot within the scene with the same number as
the scene plus a letter to distinguish it. For example, within Scene 1, label
shots as "1A," "1B," and so on. Label each scene and shot
with the appropriate number. Assistant directors create a shooting schedule
based on the shot plan.
3. Fill in the details. Camera directions, close-up
camera angles, set and prop information, special effects, sound effects,
stunts, and transitions should all be annotated on the shooting script. The
more detail you include in your shooting script, the better prepared the
production company will be. Include detailed notes to assist the postproduction
team with the editing process.
4. Revise. You will almost certainly need to make changes
after you have distributed your shooting script. Print revisions on separate,
differently colored pages rather than reprinting and redistributing updated
scripts. Implement industry-standard revision procedures by using a shooting
script template or screenwriting software.