Breakdown your screenplays and non-fiction scripts

Breakdown your screenplays and non-fiction scripts

Breakdown is easy in Dramatify and is completely integrated with all other parts of your Dramatify production; Characters, Cast, Sets, Locations, Scene list, Planning & Scheduling and Call sheets.

After breakdown you get a breakdown report you can filter on episode (if any) and scene. Your team have access to the information they need in the scene list and call sheet, for some teams also on the character pages and set pages.

STEP 1: Preparation before starting the breakdown
  1. Write (or import) your screenplay or non-fiction script
  2. If you have imported your screenplay, go through your character list
    When you import your screenplay, just check the imported character list for any screenwriter misspellings, double entries or other errors. A tip is also to categorise your characters if they are main characters, supporting, extras etc.
  3. If you have imported your screenplay, go through your set list
    The set list is imported with your screenplay. Look through it for any screenwriter misspellings, double entries or other errors.IMPORTANT! It’s important to know that sets and locations are quite different things in Dramatify. A set is the theatrical set where you shoot your scene. A location is the physical location of that theatrical set, complete with GPS coordinates. A set can only have one location, but a location can have many sets, for instance in a large studio.
  4. If you want less work after breakdown, you can add locations or placeholder locations before breakdown. Read more about locations.
STEP 2: Start breaking down your screenplay

You find the breakdown page by clicking on Scenes in the right hand sidebar menu, and then on Breakdown in the top toolbar. As you see below, the scene list do not contain any information before breakdown, just the number of scenes.

Navigate to the Breakdown page

The slightly striped background in the scene header indicated that you have not yet broken down this scene. The stripes will change to the correct stripboard color as soon as you save the scene. This makes it easy for you at a glance see which scenes – in both breakdown and planning – you haven’t yet broken down.

The breakdown page consists of four main areas:

  • Top left: Scene text and core information; short synopsis, set, time of day, number of pages and segment and production times.
  • Bottom left: Breakdown notes and Director’s notes
  • Top right: Characters and atmosphere
  • Bottom right: Scene items

Start filling in your information by either writing or using the dropdowns depending on the information required. The information in the top left quadrant as well as main cast, will be mirrored in the stripboards in the planning grid in a later step.

The Breakdown Page

STEP 3: Core information
  1. Start by adding a short synopsis to separate your scene from scenes with similar slugs.
  2. You then either choose an existing set or create a new set. If you have added confirmed or placeholder locations, you can connect your new set with a location at the same time.
  3. Select a time of day for the lighting conditions you prefer. Dramatify offer four different lighting conditions; dawn, day, dusk and night. Your slug might have “afternoon” as a time of day, but you simply select the light that refers to your idea of afternoon.The reason for this is simple. In our homeland of Sweden, “afternoon” can mean full midday sun in summer or total darkness in winter. With more distinct lighting conditions, everybody is on the same page.
  4. If you have written your script in Dramatify or rewritten any imported scenes in Dramatify, you might want to recalculate the pages. Just click on the button.
  5. Finally, if you want, you can add estimated segment time and production time to the scene. The segment time is the estimated running time of the scene when it’s finished, and production time who long it will take to produce.If you choose to use these time options, Dramatify automatically calculates the length of your finished production or episode on the top of the scene list page, as well as the total estimated production time. You can also check during breakdown if you seem to be on the right track when comparing time versus budget. This gives you a quick overview that might be a far more accurate number than relying on parts of pages. Also, if you choose to use the time option, you can more or less automatically schedule your production in Planning with automatically calculated running time and production times per team and day, as well as effortlessly create a production schedule in the call sheets.Estimated time calculation
  6. When you have added set and time of day, the background of your slug should change from slightly striped, to a correct stripboard color. It can sometimes take a few seconds, depending on your internet connection.
    If it doesn’t change by itself, try the following:

    1) Click save, and then go to the next scene, and then back again.

    2) If that didn’t fix it, your set do not have an INT / EXT label. Go to Sets, click on the set in question and then on the edit menu in the toolbar. Select edit set and indicate if it’s an INT or EXT set. The set list clearly shows if a set has a correct label.

int-ext sets

STEP 4: Breakdown & Director's notes

If you wish, you can add breakdown notes and Director’s notes as well. If you want a larger area to write in, just take hold of the lower right corner and drag it out.

Drag text corner

You can also, on tablet and desktop, click on “hide menu” in the top right corner, to temporarily hide the side menu and get more space to write.

Hide menu

The notes will be visible in the Breakdown report.

Don’t forget to save your information after you’re done with the left column!

STEP 5: Adding Characters

Dramatify supports characters for both fiction productions as well as non-fiction.

You can add main character, supporting character, extra, stunt and voice actor, but also reporters, anchors, hosts, participants, interviewees, judges, dancers, musicians and more. Your selection do to some extent determine how they are displayed in the scene list, planning and call sheets, in order of importance.

Adding characters is simple. If you have imported a screenplay and chosen to import characters, most characters with dialogue will have been imported. Just start writing the first letters of an exisisting character and Dramatify will suggest alternatives. Just click on the right one.

Add characters

To add a new character, just click the link “Create new character“. As you see in the image above, you can also copy characters from a scene if you have repeated scenes with more or less the same ensemble of characters. Even if you copy characters from another scene, you can always remove the ones you don’t need.

STEP 6: Adding Atmosphere

Some people use the term “extra” for what we call “atmosphere” cast. In Dramatify, we have separated these character types. You can add regular extras to characters as described in the previous step. A regular extra is tied to a named character and you can invite a cast member to the part, which means that they will have access to messages, teamlists, call sheets and more in Dramatify like any other team member.

Atmosphere on the other hand, is added in bulk like twenty café visitors, thirty people on the street or eight police officers. Atmosphere cast is not named in Dramatify nor have access to Dramatify. Instead, they are handled by casting.

Adding atmosphere cast

STEP 7: Adding Scene Items
Scene items are any set construction and set design directions, props, wardrobe, special effects etc. that is mentioned in the script.

You can add scene items to:

  • the set
  • the character
  • the scene

Basically, anything that doesn’t belong to the set or a character, belongs to the scene.

Scene items that belongs to a character can be persistent or non-persistent. Persistent items are items that always should follow the character, like glasses or a scar. Once added, they will be automatically added to the scene items as you add the character.

To add a new scene item, click the link “Create new item”.  To add an existing item, just start typing the item and you will get a list to select from.

Add scene item

TIP! If you need more room for scene items, you can fold the character and atmosphere boxes by clicking on the arrows.

Fold character boxes

STEP 8: Adding Scene Items outside of the breakdown

While the breakdown often adds the scene items explicitly stated in the script, a production needs much more.

That’s why you and selected teams can add scene items and scene item options outside of the breakdown to the set and to characters. This allows some of your team members that do not have access to the breakdown feature, to add a full interior design shopping or building list to your set, as well as add wardrobe, hair & makeup and prop selections to your characters.

Scene item options are simply different options for an item, say that a character needs a coat and the costume buyer can add three different brands for fitting. After deciding on a brand, the rest are listed and thus easy to remember to return.

If you want to attach the scene options you add to a character outside of the breakdown to a specific scene, so it get listed under that scene, you need to do that in the breakdown.

  • Admins and members of the set construction and props teams can add scene items and scene item options to sets.
  • Admins and members of the wardrobe, props and hair & makeup teams can add scene items and scene item options to characters.

Add scene items to characters

STEP 9: Scene list and Breakdown report

The finished breakdown can be read in its entirety in the Breakdown report which is available to all Admins.

You can filter the breakdown report on episode or scenes. It’s also formatted to be printed or emailed as a pdf.

The breakdown report

The team can view parts of the breakdown report in the scene list with characters and cast, location and scene items for the scene. If the team member have permission rights, they can also click through to scene details for the set as well as the characters.

Scene items in scene list

NOTE! Set permissions

Only users with Production Admin permission will be able to see and perform a breakdown and access the breakdown report. Learn more in the Roles and Permissions article.

Photo by Janet / Flickr (CC BY ND) )


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