Reading then Re-Reading
To effectively analyze a narrative script, ensure you read it attentively and in a conducive environment free of distractions. Pay close attention to the following elements:
- Dialogue-driven plot shifts
- Essential props for the storyline
- Time of day and locations
- Complicated lighting changes, wardrobe, makeup, set design, and action sequences
- Continuity details, including blood, dirt, hair, clothing, and props
- Script pacing and timing
- Unmentioned continuity elements that carry through scenes
After thoroughly reading the script twice, proceed with a breakdown, starting from scene one.
When breaking down a commercial, request the storyboards and pre-production book (PPB) in advance. Time each board by reciting the dialogue and estimating the duration of actions. Sum up the timings to see if they fit within the designated :60/:30/:15-second spots.
Keep the following tips in mind for commercials:
- Allow a :03-:06-second buffer for end tags, logos, on-screen text, and complex actions
Provide accurate timings
- If there’s no dialogue, estimate action durations as accurately as possible
- Review the entire PPB document for information on location, wardrobe, casting, etc.
- Note any boards that can be rearranged in their current order
Although commercials require shorter preparation time, they demand equal attention on set. Precise timings are crucial for a seamless final cut, and dialogue often needs to be verbatim. Familiarize yourself with the script before stepping on set.