How to Write a Shooting Script

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 steps:

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.


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