Learning the Film Scheduling Process

A film schedule is a document that is prepared to identify all the elements in a script. A producer or first assistant director will preview the script and highlight different aspects such as locations, props, special equipment, etc. Also, as the schedule is created, the number of extras and actors needed and what days they’ll be working will be determined. For example, if an actor can only work on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, it will be arranged in the schedule.

Tip: Take your time and review each scene of the script carefully to identify all the items and actors you’ll need for production.

Why does a film schedule matter?

Additionally, the schedule is the blueprint for each day. The entire crew needs the schedule to see which scenes are being shot dailyWithout a schedule, producers cannot determine how many days an actor will work or how many vehicles to acquire for a particular location for example.  A film schedule allows you to create a budget that’s accurate.

Tip: Use movie scheduling software to create your schedule. Production accountants at PACS International use the latest software programs to provide accurate, comprehensive production schedules for clients.

What are the steps involved in scheduling?

  1. Grab your script and several colored highlighters, and highlight all the different elements. This includes set dressings, props, actors, extras, locations, vehicles and special effects. Identify and color code each element.
  2. Size the script. The common rule in film production is that one page of script equals one minute of screen time. Review each page of your script to determine how long your scenes are. Sizing your script will allow you to determine how many scenes and pages you’re shooting each day.
  3. Enter your production data into a film scheduling software program. The program will supply reports on how each day of production will flow. This generally means shooting about three to four pages per day. However, one scene can take all day to shoot if it’s very detailed and action-oriented.

What’s next?

After you finish scheduling, you can now create your budget. The film schedule is also used regularly during production, as your crew will need to know what to expect each day. During production, the schedule is distributed daily in the form of a call sheet.  The call sheet lists the times when actors and crew are needed on set, what scenes will be shot, and a snapshot of the schedule for upcoming days.

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