Reading then Re-Reading
This might sound like an obvious thing to say, but make sure to read the script with your full attention. Find a space you can work in that helps you concentrate and that’s free of distractions.
Key items to look for:
- Plot shifts in dialogue
- Key props needed for story
- Time of day and locations
- Complex lighting changes/wardrobe/makeup/set dec/action moments
- Continuity of specific items such as: blood, dirt, hair, clothing, props, etc
- Pacing and timing of script
- Continuity that’s not mentioned throughout, but still necessary to carry through scenes
These are all things to be aware of during your initial reading. Once you’ve read it through twice, you can begin a breakdown. Start back at scene one.
If you are breaking down a commercial, make sure to ask for the storyboards and pre-pro book (PPB) ahead of time. Then time each board by speaking the dialogue out loud, and timing the action as best you can. Total the spot up, and see if it will fit into the :60/:30/:15 second spot.
Things to remember for commercials:
- Leave a :03-:06 second buffer for end tags, logos, text on screen, and complex action
- Be honest with your times
- If no dialogue, try to time out the action the best you can
- Look through the whole PPB document (it’ll have info about location, wardrobe, casting, etc)
- Notate if any boards can be switched around in the order they currently are in
While commercials are much shorter to prep, they are just as demanding on set. Your timings are imperative to making sure the spot will cut. Dialogue usually needs to be verbatim as well, so get familiar with it before arriving on set.