Breaking down a script is one of the most important parts of a script supervisor’s job. The task requires patience, dedication, and frequent emailing back and forth with production. Piecing together all the details in the script and doing pre-timings can be enough to bring anyone to The Edge after they’ve been at it for a few days. To avoid that, I have my own little system and treats built in to my workflow to keep going at the times when its 9pm at night and my family asks, “Have you even moved from that spot all day?” Here is my set up:
First of all, I set up all my work on my kitchen bar counter. I like the option of being able to sit or stand as I work. I find that standing helps my mind work better.
Every single day of breakdowns starts with a cup of coffee, Hazelnut coffee to be precise. I regularly drink French-vanilla, but when it’s time to get to work I reach straight for the Hazelnut.
My script is open on my motion computing tablet where I’ll mark it up with page counts, Days, Scene #’s and so on. I like using my tablet because once I’m done I can just email my marked up copy to production without a visit to the photocopier or scanner.
My iPhone usually hold the AD’s breakdown for reference. I like to complete a scene and then see what the AD got for his page counts and scene descriptions. Other time’s I’ll have my latest emails pulled up on that screen to see the answers to my questions regarding what time of day a scene takes place more then not.
Directly in center of everything is my laptop with the One Liner in excel. I’ll keep plugging away category by category rather then scene by scene to get it done. For example, I’ll go through to get the page count of each scene, then the time of day, followed by the characters and so forth.
Off to the side I keep a little pad of post-it notes to write down any questions I think of as I go through everything. After I’ve filled the page, I’ll send off an email to the AD to get my answers and get back to work.
Of course, I have my stop watch handy for pre-timings! I love pre-timings because I get to act out each scene all around the house. Do you go all out for your pre-timings or keep things saner?
Law and Order SVU. My favorite show to have on in the background is Law and Order Special Victims Unit. I should probably use my iPad to show emails or the AD’s breakdown, but I don’t. This show makes the room feel alive when I’ve been in the same spot for 5 hours reading scene 32 for the 4th time that day. Whenever I need a mental break I put down the work and watch this show for a few moments. There is always something dramatic going on that allows me to reset my mind and get back to the breakdowns right after.
Now you know how I set my work up and next time I say that I’m breakdown a script, you’ll know where to find me. How do you set up your area? I’ve heard of some people spreading everything out on the floor to have a large space to work with. Do you treat yourself with any special coffee or background entertainment? Do you prefer to sit or stand? I’d love to see some pictures of your work area.