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SCRIPT BREAKDOWN TUTORIAL:
Breakdown your screenplays, rundowns, commercials and non-fiction scripts efficiently!
Breakdown is easy in Dramatify and works together with all of our script formats: screenplays, rundowns and AV scripts for drama, entertainment, shows, factuals and more. The breakdown is completely integrated with all other parts of your Dramatify production. You can let your team members have full or partial access depending on their role in the production.
In Dramatify you can allow other departments into the breakdown apart from the ADs and line producer through targeted permissions. A wardrobe designer will then only be able to add items and notes to the wardrobe section. After the breakdown, you get a breakdown report that you can extensively filter to modify it to your needs.
The information you record in the breakdown is completely integrated with all other parts of your Dramatify production such as Scene Item Management, Characters including wardrobe, makeup and hair, Sets, Locations, Scene list and Story order, Planning & Scheduling and Call sheets.
Where do I find the breakdown?
Click on Breakdown in the sidebar menu!
Before you start: The difference between imported screenplays and scripts/rundowns written in Dramatify
When you write in Dramatify
When you write screenplays in Dramatify, you will need to do the breakdown from scratch as the script holds little information about breakdown details. When you write a rundown or an AV script, it depends on if you already have linked characters/cast and sets to the script.
When you import a screenplay, the core breakdown information should already be in place and be imported with your screenplay. Learn more in the previous section “Before you start: The striped background – a helpful warning!” if you haven’t read that already.
Before you start: The striped background – a helpful warning!
Before we start with the breakdown, an important concept in Dramatify is the striped background. If a scene has a striped background it means that it’s not properly broken down and lacks core breakdown information such as Time of Day, INT/EXT information or a linked set. The striped background, therefore, makes it easy for you to identify which scenes – in the breakdown, the scene list, the scheduling and the call sheets – that lacks core breakdown information.
When you import a .fdx / Final Draft screenplay, the core breakdown information should already be in place and be imported with your screenplay. However, a good practice is to click on Stripboards and scroll through the scene list looking for strips with a striped background. The Dramatify importer may not know what to do with Time of Day information such as “Later” or “Midmorning”, as well as scenes that lack INT/EXT information and hasn’t been corrected during the import procedure such as “INSERT” and “BACK TO -“.
Before you start: Breakdown permissions
In Dramatify’s breakdown, you can either work traditionally with one AD or line producer OR make it a team effort by allowing specific departments to make their breakdowns in a limited capacity.
In addition to the ordinary full breakdown access, you can also allow people from the props, set, wardrobe, makeup & hair and graphics departments to do their breakdown. These limited permissions only allow the user to add scene items and notes to their specific department and to read – but not edit or change – any other breakdown information.
The permission for characters, stunt, extras and atmosphere/background cast is a bit different. Here a user with limited permissions can only add notes. This is to allow the director or a casting director to add notes but not be able to change which characters should appear in each scene.
Adding breakdown permissions
You can add breakdown permissions when you invite a person to Dramatify, or afterwards. Click on People in the sidebar menu.
- To invite a new team member, click on the button “Add Cast & Crew”.
- To add breakdown permissions to an existing member, find the person’s profile card and click on the menu button in the upper right corner. Select “Edit member details”.
Scroll down to the permission section and select which permissions this person should have:
STEP 1: The main breakdown page
1) The main breakdown area: Select how you want to breakdown your script
When you click on Breakdown in the sidebar menu, the first you will see is a quite empty area. Here you can make a choice of how you want to breakdown your script. You can break it down:
- Per episode/script
- On characters
- On sets
You can also combine these, i.e. one episode and one set. When you are further into your production, you can also switch on the “Latest updates” button and see only the latest updated scenes.
2) How to access the Breakdown sheet
When you set how you want to breakdown your script, you will get a list of scenes. Just click on a blue scene header to access the breakdown sheet.
Note! Should you NOT get any listed scenes below the filter block, it means that there are no scenes matching your selection.
3) Flag and bookmark scenes
In the scene breakdown, you can also flag and bookmark scenes. They will appear between the headline and the filter block. You decide how you want to use the bookmark and flag features.
4) Final Draft & .fdx import information
When you import a rewritten screenplay, Dramatify will mark scenes updated by latest Final Draft import with an orange icon. In the importer, you can select how you want this information to display. When you import a screenplay for the first time, all scenes will sport an orange icon since all of them are new.
STEP 2: Overview of the Breakdown sheet
Opening the breakdown sheet
You open a breakdown sheet by clicking on a scene in the scene list on the main breakdown page (see Step 1).
The breakdown sheet
Most of the breakdown sheet is quite self-explanatory. Just click on the headlines to open different sections to add or read information. Note that the striped background in the scene header below is a warning that the scene lacks either INT/EXT information, a linked set or a time of day. Occasionally, after editing, the striped background can remain for half a minute before changing to the correct stripboard colour.
Navigating the breakdown sheet
Click on the double-arrow icon to return to the breakdown list and the dropdown menu to jump between scenes. Click on the Previous scene and Next scene to navigate back and forward – or use the keyboard commands Cmd + arrow (Mac) or Ctrl + arrow (Win).
The breakdown menu
To access the breakdown menu, click on the icon with three parallel bars in the upper right corner of the screen. Here you can:
- Flag a scene
- Bookmark a scene
- Copy scene content from another script and/or scene. You can select characters, atmosphere characters, and various scene item groups
- Split a scene into parts
- Unsplit a scene part
STEP 3: Understanding stripboard and screenplay version colours
In the top left-hand box, you’ll see your scene text. This can be coloured in a couple of different ways:
- The scene heading of all of our script types will show a header background stripboard colour (see below). If it’s striped, that means it’s not fully broken down and that you should fix it. If you synch a Final Draft script, the stripboard colours should normally be in place before you start the breakdown, but as shown in the example with a scene that only has the information “INSERT”, Dramatify can’t judge INT/EXT information. Click on “Scene info & Set” to fix it.
- The background of the scene text is normally white but may sport a version colour if you have triggered a revision. These adhere to WGA (Writers Guild of America) standard versioning colours. (Read more in Working with drama screenplays).
- The scene text of a multi-camera rundown shows the source colour (Read more in Working with multi-camera live/studio scripts & rundowns)
|INT. NIGHT||EXT. NIGHT|
Note that if you are working with a screenplay, the scene text itself can also show a coloured background indicating the version. Learn more about screenplays.
STEP 4: Scene info & Set
Underneath the script text box, you’ll find the Scene info & Set box with the core scene information. If you have imported a screenplay, much of this information is already there. You may want to add script day.
Note that in order to trigger stripboard colours that make it easier for you to visually track and schedule scenes, the scene must contain a Time of Day and a set. In the lower half of the image, you see the set and the location.
To change any information, as well as add a script day, a synopsis, a location, click on the pencil icon.
A note on the page calculate button: Click the button if you have written your screenplay in Dramatify, or if you want to re-calculate a scene text.
STEP 5: Times & notes
If you add time estimates, Dramatify will help you throughout the app to automatically calculate everything from estimated work hours, estimated shooting times and estimated total duration of the finished episode to the times and durations of more advanced selections you make yourself. Features that support timings are Story order, Running order, Scene scheduling and call sheets,
In this section you can add breakdown notes, Director’s notes and – if you split a scene – also Scene Part notes. The notes will be visible in the Breakdown report as well as in the Stripboard reports; Story Order, By Set, By Location and Running Order.
STEP 6: Adding Characters, Stunts, Extras & Atmosphere / Background Actors
Dramatify supports characters for both fiction productions as well as non-fiction. Characters may already be in place before script breakdown if you have imported a screenplay or manually added characters and then added them to a scene in a rundown.
A note on imported screenplays: Dramatify reads the characters tagged in the imported screenplay file. Characters with dialogue are automatically tagged, while non-speaking characters and atmosphere characters/background actors must be manually tagged in Final Draft or the screenwriting software you use. A good practice is, therefore, to scan the scene text to make sure all characters are correctly added.
Moving characters between speaking and non-speaking
Simply drag and drop existing characters between speaking and non-speaking. The designation is only regarding the current scene.
Adding an existing character to a scene
If characters already have been added before the script breakdown, simply start writing the name of the character in the box beneath the character names and you will get suggestions as you type:
Adding new characters
To add a new character, simply click on the button with that name. Add the name of the character and the number if you want a specific numbering (otherwise, the character automatically will be assigned a number).
In the type of character list, you’ll find a host of different types, from main characters to reporters and dancers. Your selection does to some extent determine how they are displayed in the scene list, planning and call sheets, in order of importance.
For character types that may be a variation of a character; a stunt character, body double or stand-in, you may want to add a suffix to indicate it’s not a different character.
Adding atmosphere (background) characters
Atmosphere (background) characters work a bit differently than other characters in Dramatify.
- They are always added as a group (15 police, 30 café visitors)
- Atmosphere cast can NOT be invited to Dramatify but are handled by the Casting Dept.
- Wardrobe and Makeup & Hair can not breakdown or add individual items to them.
If you need any of the above, add the characters as Extras instead.
Limited breakdown permission for Casting
Optionally, you can give limited breakdown permission to Casting. They can read the breakdown sheet and the breakdown report but ONLY add notes to the Character, Stunt & Extras section and to the Atmosphere Group section. These notes can then be viewed in the breakdown report and in the stripboard reports. They can NOT add, edit or delete any characters from the breakdown sheet.
STEP 5: Adding Atmosphere
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.
STEP 6: Adding Scene Items
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.
TIP! If you need more room for scene items, you can fold the character and atmosphere boxes by clicking on the arrows.
STEP 7: Splitting scenes in the breakdown
In drama productions, you often need to split scenes, either because the scene requires different locations for different shots, due to cast availability, parts that need to be shot with a green screen, or simply because it requires a long production time and people need to eat.
You can split scenes both in the breakdown and in the scene scheduling, but the available tools are adapted to the work at hand.
- In the Scene Breakdown, you can change ANY information apart from the scene number, the scene header and the scene text. That means that each scene part can have a different set, different location, different cast members, different time of day and different scene items.
- In Scene Scheduling, you can split a scene and change the number of pages, the estimated duration and production time. The reason for the minimalist functionality is that at this stage the user usually wants simplicity and speed. The link to the breakdown of the scene is also adjacent if more functionality is needed.
Scene part numbering
When splitting a scene, each scene part gets a number like 1:1, 1001:2, 14C:3. You can split a scene as many times as needed. Scene parts can then be scheduled on different days and with different teams.
Splitting scenes in the breakdown
When you split a scene, the original scene will be hidden and replaced by its two parts in the breakdown. Values that belong to the scene, such as characters and items, will be copied to each part and can be edited separately.
Some values will not be copied, such as estimated time, production time or the number of pages, as these will most likely be different for each part. You will be redirected to part 1 of the scene after you have split the scene.
To split a scene in the breakdown, go to the scene you want to split. Click on the menu and select “Split scene”.
The split scene looks exactly like the original save for a scene part marking (i.e the :1 after scene number 4).
To change and edit synopsis, timings, set, character, scene items etc. for the scene part, use the normal functionality
Important regarding scene header changes
As scene number, scene header and scene text stay the same when you split a scene, the scene header you see in the scene breakdown will not change when you change INT/EXT, a set or the time of day – as it still is the same scene in the script. In Dramatify, scene headers and scene text is read and displayed directly from the script and changing them when changing a set or time of day for a scene part would constitute a script change.
However, in stripboards, lists etc. scene parts will be displayed, linked, filtered and sorted according to the changes you make. You can also use scene part notes to notify others to be observant if necessary.
Below is an example of how the stripboard can look with the same scene in three parts with different sets, time of day and INT/EXT.
If you rather have unique scene headers for each split part, either ask the scriptwriter to make the script changes to split a scene into (number]B, (number]C, [number]D numbering and upload a new script version, or do them yourself in Dramatify (as long as consecutive rewrites are made in Dramatify to avoid overwrites when synching a new version).
Deleting a scene part and un-splitting a scene
If there are two parts of the scene, the following will happen when you un-split it:
- Both parts of the scene will be removed and be replaced by the original scene.
- Any work you have done to divide characters, items etc between the parts will be deleted. The scene will go back to its original state, before the split.
- The original scene will accessible again here in the breakdown.
If there are three or more parts of the scene, the following will happen when you un-split it:
The current part of the scene will simply be deleted, but all other parts will be unchanged, with one exception: Their part numbers will be adjusted, to avoid gaps in numbering. If you want to return to the original scene without splits, keep on deleting and refer to the paragraph above for the last un-split, when two parts remain.
Note that scene part deletions cannot be undone.
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 team members can add scene items and scene item options outside of the breakdown to the set and to characters as well as in the scene item list. This is convenient when working with a specific set or character, as well as allowing team members that should not have access to the breakdown to add to scene items.
For a team member to have access to add, edit and delete scene items on a character page they need to have “creative” access AND either:
- Character details Admin
- Makeup & Hair
For a team member to have access to add, edit and delete scene items on a set page they need to have “creative” access AND Full Access – Set.
STEP 9: The Breakdown report
You’ll find the Breakdown report at Breakdown > Report.
You can filter the breakdown report on a host of different parameters: episode, scene, script days, workdays, times of day, characters, sets, locations and atmosphere groups.
If you click on the menu button to the left of the green help button, you can also add the Character & Scene item Show/hide filter. This gives you the option of creating very customised breakdown reports.
To have access to the breakdown report, a user needs to have at least read-only access to the breakdown and the breakdown report.
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