As the school year comes to a close, we’re finally preparing in Movie Class to shoot the Kids’ movies! This class we reviewed their rewritten scripts, made a few changes in dialogue and action, getting things ready to move forward with the actual production of their work. The Kids had improved their stories based on the Constructive Criticism they received last time. This class we used also to talk about the next step: Breakdown and Movie Roles for them to go forward with their films.
What is a Breakdown?
No, it is not driving my poor Kids crazy with work! Breakdown, as the name indicates, means Breaking Down the information on each script. The movie script is not a literary medium. It is a blueprint for a film production. As such, it should include a wealth of information so that the entire film crew knows what they are supposed to do and plan for. In our case, as we’re doing this in a very small scale, I asked the Kids to make a very detailed list of every single item they will need for their productions: Not only the characters, but also the scenery, the props, and all the little details they will need to bring their mental images to the screen. For example, in the case of Green Girl, there needs to be Green Slime and trash (among other things). For Word World, we need mud, shovels, a football, just to name a few indispensable items. For Bad Guys Beware, we need to figure out a “light bulb” to illustrate an idea, an “electric” net, and a knife for the bad guy to break free from it.
For a “real” film, the breakdown is done for every single scene of the movie. It includes vital information for the production of it. The Breakdown says which characters are playing, how they are dressed, how they are made up and their hairstyles, which locations, set dressings, props, special effects and extra details need to be on set and ready for the time we shoot. Also, it must include how many pages or octaves of a page the scene is. That will be important to decide in which order things get shot, and how many and which scenes are to be shot each day.
Our discussion on the Breakdown also brought us to talk about the Roles in a Movie set.
Movie Roles in a Film Set
For a film, the two most important people are the Director and the Producer. On set, the Director is the captain of the ship, and s/he says what is to be done and how. The Producer is essential, but s/he doesn’t really need to be on set. The Producer makes sure that all the necessary resources are there for the Director and the film crew to do their job and get a movie done. Not only monetary resources, but people and things. The Producer is in charge of hiring everyone and of managing everything. The Director is like an Orchestra Conductor who tells the entire Crew what to do with all those resources the Producer got.
There are many different areas of film making: Cinematography, which is in charge of the camera and lighting. Art Direction, which is in charge or Set dressing, Construction and Props. Wardrobe, which is in charge of what the Talent wears. Hair and makeup, in charge of the hair and makeup of the Talent. Sound, in charge of recording both the voices of the Talent as well as ambiance sounds of each location, or handling Sound FX or Music during the shoot. Special FX, in charge of special visual effects during shooting. Finally we have the people in charge of Talent and Extras, which is the responsibility of the Directing department, helmed by the Director and aided by the first AD, second AD and Continuity. There are sometimes people in charge of Stunts, or Animals and Vehicles, if the shoot requires so. They all answer to the Director, but the entire Crew is also the Director’s responsibility.
Our Role Division
For our movies, each child will be Writer, Director and Producer. The rest of us will be there to help with the actual production. In each case, one of the Kids will be in charge of the camera (being a Director of Photography) and the other one will be helping with the moving of the characters in frame for our rudimentary stop-motion animation. They all asked to have their names in credits afterwards, and also to have their films shown on youtube… so I will open up a channel and upload their movies to share!
Now, with their scripts broken down, and with the Movie Roles clear, we are ready to start shooting the first film! Look for it on this site early next week.