The Overall Film Stages

In order to understand the problems involved in the script, it helps to visualize the entire production process, which is outlined below. In a prescripted documentary, the film will probably go through the following stages:

1. Script development

The idea and its development

Discussion with commissioning editors, sponsors, or funding agencies

Preliminary research

Writing the proposal (often the second item)

Discussion of proposal

Agreement on budget


Writing the shooting script

Acceptance and modification of script

(At this point, the writer can relax slightly, but only slightly, as he or she will probably be highly involved throughout production stages as well.)

2. Preproduction (based on script)

3. Filming

4. Editing

The visual edit based on a revised editing script

Editing sound and laying in narration from an approved narration script

5. Final lab work for films or on-lining for videos

(The final order of work varies slightly when you are working in video, and that will be discussed later.)

What can sometimes be confusing is that the word script is used in half a dozen different ways and may mean something entirely different depending on where you are in the production. You will also hear the words treatment and outline bandied about, adding to the confusion. In reality, it is all quite simple, and the script stages proceed as follows:

• The treatment, or outline

• The shooting script

• The editing script

• The narration script

The idea. We know what that is. It is the sharp concept, the raison d'être, that underlines the whole film structure.

The treatment, or outline. The treatment, or outline, is basically a brief sketch. It suggests an approach and tells the overall story of the film. Its typical aim is to clarify the purpose and progression of the film with the funding agency.

The shooting script. The shooting script is the approved master plan. It usually has a fairly full description of all the visual sequences and an accompanying outline of the ideas to be discussed in the sequence or some tentative narration. As its name indicates, this script also suggests to the director what to shoot and will be used to make a daily shooting plan and a proper budget. As mentioned earlier, it also helps the cameraperson determine what special camera and lighting provisions have to be made.

The editing script. The editing script (visuals) may be either the same as the shooting script or something radically different. Normally, the director sits down with the editor after filming to review the material already shot (called "rushes," or "dailies"). If the director decides to drop, add, or modify a sequence, he or she will probably draw up a new script or set of notes to guide the editor. This is what is called the editing script. What must be emphasized is that during editing, the rushes, not theory, must guide the film, and this material may necessitate many departures from the original script. Hence, the occasional necessity to formulate a special editing script.

The narration script. This is not really a script but rather the final narration text that has to be read over the visuals. In most current-event or biographical documentaries, the shooting script contains only a rough guide to the main ideas of the film. The writing of the exact narration is usually left until almost the end of the process, when all the visual material has been locked into place. However, even in films where a full narration has been written at an early stage, it is not unusual to see major changes being made in editing, necessitating a new narration script when the editing is almost complete. (Recording and laying in the narration track is one of the last stages in the editing process.)

Film Making

Film Making

If you have ever wanted the secrets to making your own film, here it is: Indy Film Insider Tips And Basics To Film Making. Have you ever wanted to make your own film? Is there a story you want to tell? You might even think that this is impossible. Studios make films, not the little guy. This is probably what you tell yourself. Do you watch films with more than a casual eye? You probably want to know how they were able to get perfect lighting in your favorite scene, or how to write a professional screenplay.

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