-3 DIT Filmmaking Guide – Scheduling Your Film – L1S3p1

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The unfortunate reality of making a movie is that paperwork is actually 90% of the process. It all starts with your schedule and your budget for the film. Both need to be exact and well thought out. Remember, time is money and money is time so be prepared to rework both until they are perfect.


Who what when and where?

Just like the script is the blueprint for the movie. The schedule is the blueprint for the production. It needs to be precise, set up and organized in the most efficient and flexible manner possible. You can find some useful information on scheduling at:

dummies.com – the-art-of-scheduling-a-film as well as check out


Gorilla is a great new scheduling and budgeting software for about half the price of its competitors and is compatible with most screenwriting software and has some other fun tools such as a storyboarding component.

Tagging the Script

You are whatever I say you are!

            Hopefully you used one on the programs mentioned under screenwriting that also have related scheduling software. Movie Magic Screenwriter Movie Magic Budgeting and Scheduling

First, you will need to tag all the ELEMENTS in your screenplay in the screenwriting software. (See individual software for tagging options)










Once you have tagged all your script elements, you will need to export this for the appropriate scheduling software. Here’s a good video on getting ready to tag:

 Script Breakdown 02 by UponMidnightDreary

Scheduling Parameters

If not this then that!

            Once you export the tagged elements of your script open it up into your scheduling program. You will need to arrange your days according to specific factors of importance. This will be a rough draft really as you will have your line producer refine it later.

  1. Locations:

Ideally you want to shoot out a location. Meaning, that you want to shoot all the scenes for a single location in a row, so that you can wrap that location and move onto the next.

  1. Cast Members:

It is important to make the most out of your actors time, keep it to as few days as possible preferably in a row, with as few holding days (days off) as possible.

  1. Day/Night Shooting:

This is very important when it comes to your turn around time. If you are planning on having a day off – use that day to transition from Night scenes to Day scenes, or vs. versa. this will help keep the crew fresh and way less grumpy.

  1. Interiors/Exteriors:

It is best to shoot out all of your Exteriors before your interiors for weather reasons. If the weather or light is unfavorable, you should have a scheduled back up Interior to shoot for the day so that the film continues moving forward.

  1. In Sequence Shooting:

This will not always be possible, but is a good idea for your actors if a scene has some sort of emotional build and climax for that character.

  1. Child Actors:

You need to try and keep kids scheduled to under six hours of work a day. You will need the parents on set with them, so take that into consideration as you schedule.

  1. Changes in Time:

If you are bouncing between eras it will take a significant amount of time to set up, and make sure everything is appropriate.

  1. Time of Year:

Just remember that you have way more or less daylight during certain parts of the year, as well as changing weather patterns, schedule appropriately.

  1. Weather Conditions:

Check the weather in advance, and continue to monitor it so that if you need to change locations you will know in advance.

  1. Special Effects and Stunts

These are really in a category by themselves and really depend on the technical requirements specific to the stunt or special effect involved.

  1. Second Camera/Unit:

Sending out a second unit can help save time for the rest of the crew. If you are in need of simple shots requiring no to 1 or 2 actors, like landscapes, or walking down the street, inserts etc

  1. Geography of Locations:

Try and keep the locations you are shooting at close to one another particularly your cover sets in case you need to move quickly to another set if the weather or something else is not cooperating.

  1. Other Factors:

These could be particular to your specific script

Do your best to keep your days tight; no more then 12-14 hours on set a day. Don’t over schedule, because you need to shoot fast, try to keep your days at around 7 per day, which is generally a lot for a big budget studio film, which normally only shoots 2-3 pages a day. You however will not have that luxury so make each second count.

Breakdown Sheets

Break it down!

Once you have finished tagging and scheduling, you can now create your day-out of-days and your breakdown sheets so you can see exactly what and who you will need on a day to day basis.

It has everything from the cast to the sound effects that will be happening for each scene you will shoot.

Check out Gorilla 5 Breakdown Sheets, and the old fashion way at ReelDeal – Making A Movie Blog 16: SCRIPT BREAKDOWN

Next Lesson ⇒ IL Budgeting TN

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