How to Become a Film Director – Lining the Script

– Posted in: Directing Films and Videos Film School & Training

The Best Directors Save Time and Money by Pre-Directing Scenes.

Lined Script Agent FBA2In this post, award-winning film director John Holser shares a script supervisor technique called “lining the script.” John’s goal with this video is to help you pre-visualize your shoot.  This process will help you find more shooting time while spending less money.



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Here is a recap of this video:

00:38 – John’s preferred method for pre-visualization

01:37 – How to make a lined-script

02:43 – The benefits of using a lined-script

03:58 – Bloopers

Full Video Transcription Below

There is this on-set technique that when used in pre-production can save you a huge amount of time and money on your next film. Stay tune to find out what it is and how to use it.

Welcome to “How to Become a Film Director”. My name is John Holser, and I’m here to help you develop serious directing chops one professional grade tip at a time.

My goal with this video is to help you find more shooting time while spending less money. We can do this by focusing on what’s important and dropping what’s not. Every working director has a method for doing this because every camera set-up takes time and time equals money.

If you can train your mind’s eye and see your movie before you shoot, you’ll get better shots in less time.

Let’s get your ideas into a form you can use to communicate. To do this, you’ll need a method for taking what your mind sees and putting it into a comprehensive and communicable form.

For me, that starts with a lined script.

Lined-scripts are created both prior and during production. When it’s done during the shoot, the script’s supervisor tracks the length of each take with a vertical line. This is done live and it’s the part of the record keeping essential for post-production.

The method is the same when we do it for pre-visualization; except we’re not shooting with a camera, we’re creating shots with our imagination. The same process is used in pre-production except the shot lives in your mind’s eye.

Here’s how it’s done. Draw a vertical line indicating a desired camera angle through the script’s dialogue and action description. Each line represents the anticipated duration of the shot. In other words, the line starts at the place in the script where the character starts the take and ends when the director yells, “Cut!”

The line represents that camera set-up and that take. Each of these lines is labeled with the type of shot desired. Close-ups are indicated by “CU”, a medium shot would be “MS” and a long shot would be labeled “LS”. Once you’re finished, you’ll be able to move more easily, you’ll identify redundant coverage that doesn’t add value as well as any areas that lack enough coverage for a good cutting.

You don’t want to get back to the edit room lacking the proper coverage or an abundance of unneeded angles of the same action. Each line refers to a shot. Each shot is identified with a letter of the alphabet. Stay away from the letters I and O as these can easily be mistaken for one and zero. This process helps us visualize the shot as well as how the scene might be edited.

This information can also be turned into an overhead shot diagram, a shot list and ultimately into a comprehensive shooting plan. Best of all, once you’ve made the creative decisions the first assistant director or a good P.A. can handle on-set logistics, leaving you to focus on performance and story.

I know that not every production can afford to hire a full crew but there’s no excuse for not having a good plan.

Most beginning independent film directors don’t do this, which is a big reason why experienced crew won’t work with them.

If you want good people, show them you’re prepared. This will make you standout. After all, you’re asking them to trust in your vision. The least you can do is show them that you have one.

“Scene 2B, stairs, take four”

These days, film and video production opportunities are abundant for directors and cinematographers who know their stuff. If you’d like to learn more about how you can begin a career, create more opportunities or just how to make your next film your best film, click here right now and don’t forget to like and subscribe.
(Bloopers) Here we go. This is what working … Let’s go right from the beginning. I know that not every production can afford to hire a full crew but … Come up with some money! You can’t keep feeding them pizza all the time! Stop! Here we go. To take a little, oh boy, back up just a little. I think we got it, Joe. What do you think?