Working with characters and cast
Characters are central to a production. Here we show how to add information to a character page, but also what useful information is added and displayed automatically
Before you start
You have three ways of adding characters to Dramatify:
- Adding them manually through the character page
- Adding them during breakdown
- Importing a drama screenplay
The latter method is the easiest and most common when you work with fiction screenplays. Here is an article of how to import a screenplay.
Managing imported characters
If you have imported your screenplay, your characters can be found in one long list under the Character tab.
Your screenwriting program usually picks up all characters with dialogue in your screenplay as characters. This means three things:
- When imported, all characters will be assigned as “Main characters”. You need to assign the characters to the correct cast category; main character, supporting characters, extras etc. This will later affect both team lists and permissions.
- You need to add any non-speaking parts such as extras and atmosphere as they will not have been added nor imported automatically. This is easiest to do during breakdown, but you can also do it manually on the character page.
- Joint characters need to be deleted. If a dialogue is written like this:
ANNIE & BENNY
Your screenwriting program will see “Annie & Benny” as one character and import it as such. In Dramatify, these posts need to be deleted manually. There should also be separate character posts imported for Andy and Benny if they both have dialogue on their own.
- All imported characters are assigned as supporting characters. Go through the list and change their designation if needed. Click on the character name, then on the edit menu to the right in the toolbar.
Adding new characters through the character page
Click on Characters in the right hand sidebar menu, the on the edit menu in the toolbar. Now you can choose between Add Character and Add Atmosphere.
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.
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 above. 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.
To add an atmosphere group, just click Add Atmosphere, name the group and how many people you need.
Adding a new character
To add a new character, click on the link. As you see below, you only need to add a character name and select a character type. However, you can also flesh out the character with a concept image or an test makeup picture of the casted actor. You can also add a bio, description or other info about the character.
Adding real people as characters
In the case of documentaries, factuals, talkshows and entertainment where people appear under their real names as themselves or a speaker voice, you just add “Amy Smith” as the character and then invite Amy Smith to the production by inviting her.
After you have saved your new character, you have three choices:
- Continue adding more characters and atmosphere groups
- Connecting a cast member to the character. If you add that cast member through the people page, you can hold off inviting them until a later date if you wish, but still link character and cast member together.
- Send an email invite to the cast member right from the character page
Adding characters during breakdown
You can also add characters and atmosphere during breakdown.
Adding exisiting and imported characters is simple. Just start writing the first letters of an exisisting character and Dramatify will suggest alternatives. Just click on the right one.
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.
To add a new character, just click the link “Create a new character” as seen below and you’ll get a popup window.
To add atmosphere groups, you proceed in the same way. Start typing in the box underneath “Add atmosphere” to add an existing atmosphere group, or click the link “Create new atmosphere group” to create a new group.
Editing and deleting characters
You can edit the information about a character at any time, as well as connect it with a cast member so that he or she gets access to team messages, scripts and call sheets.
Just click on the character you want to edit.
On the character page you’ll find all information we have about the character. Some is auto-generated through the breakdown, such as episode and scene information.
To edit any core information; name, character type, picture, bio/description and connected cast member; click on Edit character in the toolbar. To delete a character, select “Delete character”.
Adding and editing scene items outside of the breakdown
Scene items are any items like props, wardrobe, special effects etc. that is mentioned in the script. Anything specifically mentioned in the script is usually added during breakdown. In the middle of the page you find all the scene items that’s been added and you can filter them on department. At the bottom of the page, you find the items added during breakdown listed per scene.
However, a character needs a wardrobe, props and perhaps special hair & makeup. Any admin and anyone belonging to the wardrobe, props and hair & makeup teams can add to scene items.
Persistent and non-persistent items
For characters, there are two different kinds of scene items, persistent items and non-persistent. A persistent item is something that a character always appears with, like glasses or a scar, and once added, this scene item is automatically added to every scene the character appears in.
Scene item options
In the space under the core character information, you’ll find any scene items already added. To those you can add scene item options. That is any alternatives you want to list. If the scene item is a jacket, you can use the scene item options to add jackets in different colors, different brands or models. The list makes it easy to remember what should be fitted or returned. Just click the menu beside each scene item to add an option.
You can also add new scene items and scene item options. This mean that you can build each character’s wardrobe and props outside of the breakdown.
Linking scene options to specific scenes
If you’d like to link the scene items you create on the character page to specific scenes, you need to do that in the breakdown. Only Admins have access to the Breakdown pages, so you might need to ask a colleague for access.
Since you already created the scene items, you only need to add the first letters in the scene item box, to make a list pop up. Click on the alternative you’d like to use.
A tip is to have two browser windows open at the same time. One with the breakdown page and one with the character page of the character who’s scene items you are adding. That make it easier to remember all the items you might want to add.
Removing or changing a casted actor or participant
Sometimes circumstances change, and you need to remove a cast member that already have been linked to the character.
Removing a cast member who are not yet a member of the production
Removing a cast member who is not yet a member of the production is easy. This person might not yet been invited, haven’t yet accepted the invitation or have refused the invitation.
Go to People in the side menu. Above the production team card, click on Cast.
Any member whose card that have a colored top border, is not yet a member with access.
These members you can just remove by clicking in the lower right corner of the card and select “delete invitation” or “revoke invitation”.
Removing a cast member who are a member of the production
There are three ways of removing a cast member who already is a member of the production.
1) Remove the cast member from the character but not the production
Let’s say that you have re-casted the cast member in another role, or do not want the cast member connected with the character for some other reason. Just go to the character’s page and select edit character in the toolbar. At the bottom of the edit character page you will see the text “Played by: [insert cast member’s name]“. Just click on the trashcan to remove the cast member. As a safety measure, you will get a popup asking you if really want to remove the cast member. Confirm that you do.
2) Remove the cast member from the character and select another cast member
If you for some reason want to change cast member to another, already existing cast member, just click on the edit (pen) icon to the right of the text Played by: [insert cast member’s name]“. Beneath, more content roll out. Use the dropdown menu to select another cast member and click save.
3) Remove a cast member both from the character AND from the production
Go to People in the side menu. Above the production team card, click on Cast.
Find the cast member you want to remove, and click in the lower right corner of the card. Select “remove from production”. This person will now be removed both from the production and the character.
The character list
Note! Character permissions
Only users with Production Admin permission as well as teams belonging to wardrobe, props and hair & makeup will be able to see the Character nav tab and add, edit, administrate and delete Characters. Learn how in the Roles and Permissions article.
Top image by gnuckx / Flickr (CC BY)