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Shooting Script

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The shooting script is more elaborate, precise, overwritten version of the screenplay. Unlike what common sense may suggest, the shooting script is not written by the screenwriter. It is written by the director alongside his cinematographer, while both discuss their ideas and shot plan desired for the movie.

In broad terms, the main difference between the screenplay and the shooting script is that the screenplay is a selling tool, whereas the shooting script is a production tool.

When a screenwriter pens the screenplay, he is trying to sell, above all else, the story. Therefore, he has to create a smooth read with a harmonious flow, otherwise his screenplay and hard work end up in the wastebasket. Screenplays should contain little to no direction whatsoever. Directing the movie and calling the shots is not the writer’s task; it is the director’s.

Ideally, right after a screenplay is purchased, the movie enters pre-production. The director then will alter the story as he deems fits and eventually craft the shooting script. The shooting script is normally broken into shots, featuring precise cinematography terminology such as close-ups, dolly in, overexposed. The idea here is to inform the crew what is going on. Before principal photography starts, the shooting script will be divided into dates, so everyone knows what is being shot when.

Although terrible to read, the shooting script is essential to a complex production such as the one of feature movies. The goal is to let all the crew members know what they will need to bring or arrange beforehand.

Related readings:

Lessons on Screenwriting:

Lessons on Cinamatography:


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