Breaking Down Your Screenplay

INCLUDED IN THIS LESSON:  13 Minutes of Instructional Video, Detailed Written Breakdown and examples to how he breaks down his scripts    –Supplied w/English Subtitles

IN THIS LESSON YOU WILL LEARN:  Whether you’re working on a commercial, music video, short film, or feature, understanding the pre-production process as a Director of Photography is essential not only to your success, but the success of the entire production.  Inside, Shane Hurlbut, ASC will break down his methodology step-by-step, sharing insight from start to finish while explaining the benefits of each of his steps.  Shane will explain the best way to prepare for pre-production, share why it’s important to communicate your vision to ALL departments, show you the best way to break down your screenplay, and use scenes from feature films as examples to show how notes and a shot list translates on the screen.  This is a must-have for all aspiring DoPs out there!


<<<Michael F>>> I’m about to head into my biggest film yet as a DP and am employing the tactics you laid out in the Nov. workshop and right here in this Lesson. It has made me so much more confident in my communication with the director and has forced me to think critically about by framing selection. Not just what looks good but how it affects the viewer. Maybe these are things I would know intuitively but using your methods leaves little room for error. This is a really solid roadmap. Just what I needed. I also appreciate the fact that you only had 3 weeks on “Fathers and Daughters” yet you use the same tactics as you do in a 7 month production. It’s great to hear that driven home. Cheers Shane!
<<<Elisha R>>>This is the nitty gritty of film making for me. Thanks for sharing this because I’ve always wanted to know how the pros would breakdown a script. My biggest take away from this is again the use of lens and camera movement to capture the emotion of scene. I’ve never would have thought it about if I had not signed up to your Hurlbut Academy.
<<<Mac R>>>Again, Amazing stuff Shane! This is a huge help because in a 4-5 Months i will be undertaking my first 2 mil budget feature. So seeing your method on approaching a shot list coupled with your older videos on expansive intimacy I will feel much better developing this list and method.
<<<Oscar S>>>I’m so grateful for these courses! I’m sure that no one can even dare to argue that this is the best place for learning this craft! I already knew some of the things you say in this video, but hearing it again from a Director like you, makes me feel very confident. Please, keep on the good work!
<<<Hugh H>>> One of your best Lessons so far. This is beyond awesome! This really gives me a better understanding of how to do story breakdowns. I struggle with camera emotion, picking the key frames, and framing to build emotion. This really helps. More, more, more!!! Thanks so much.
<<<Sean C>>> Shane, Great, great stuff!  I love it. I am a Production Designer turned Director. You are filling in all my weak spots. I spent 25 years on set and while I did pay attention to camera and lighting. I also had a department to run. This really is a master class. This is really an Outstanding experience for me! and OMG People who have not been on a real set, this is life changing. Even in film school, you don’t get this kind of access to real budget, real decision making. The process of breaking down a script and being able to see it fully realized in a 30-100 million dollar film. You are doing a great service for many.
<<<Jacques B>>>Wow Shane, I like where this is going!
<<<Carlos F>>>It’s been such a rich experience for me to be learning with you!



We are directing all comments and questions to our New Forum, please find the related course in the forum’s categories to submit.


Great lesson. Two questions: 1). Can you clarify what you meant by “So we ended up shooting it where we were anywhere between 160° and 172° shutter. I could have gone 135° and 144° but I was in Europe, and the 50 hertz thing didn’t work, so we couldn’t get it in that ballpark.”

    • UNIV PRODUCTION SVCS    28 days ago

      @UNIV PRODUCTION SVCS And 2). In the big wraparound shot of the guy entering the hotel to meet Russell Crowe's character, the shot omitted the director's note about showing 80's era cars outside. How did the back-and-forth with the director go to end up nixing that part of the shot? Did you both decide that it just wouldn't work in the chosen location, and it wasn't that crucial since the telephone and fashion already established the 80s feel enough?

    • Shane Hurlbut, ASC    28 days ago

      @UNIV PRODUCTION SVCS North America is 60hz and Europe is 50hz. When shooting 24fps at 50hz you need to shoot with a 172.8 degree shutter so that fluorescent lights, LED's and street lights do not flicker. In North America at 60hz you can shoot 24fps at 180 degree shutter and if you want to shoot 48fps then you shoot at a 172.8 degree. If you get the app FLICKERFree it helps you with all of this.

    • Shane Hurlbut, ASC    28 days ago

      @UNIV PRODUCTION SVCS Yes, that was the limitations of the locations, we could not tie in the cars and it was a budget consideration as well. Period cars cost a ton of money along with the extras to drive them

rbloom 29 days ago

What program are you using to imbed your notes in the PDF file?

    • Shane Hurlbut, ASC    23 days ago

      @rbloom Hi rbloom, I just use the preview function, you can go up and hit the marker button and then that enables a ton of options for you.

Marla 21 days ago

I have a question. You mention reading the script 4 times. What’s the intention you bring with each reading? My hunch is you’re not reading it over and over just to rotely just to familiarize yourself with it.

    • Shane Hurlbut, ASC    20 days ago

      @Marla Hi Marla, Yes, I am reading it over and over again and again, to the point that if someone mentions a scene, I know the number. Reading over and over again, is your job, the director lives and breathes this script and you need to get at their level. The short hand saves time, money and puts it on the screen.