How to Make a Better Shooting Schedule by Using a Stripboard

How to Make a Better Shooting Schedule Using a Stripboard - StudioBinder-min

A production shooting schedule template is developed by the 1st assistant director and producer during pre-production on a project. Over time, the shooting schedule is updated to accommodate changes in the shooting script, talent, locations, gear, etc. In this post, we’ll review how a stripboard is used to create a shooting schedule.

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Why use a stripboard to create a shooting schedule?

Traditionally, a film production board (aka stripboard) was created using cardboard charts that held color-coded strips of paper that represented scenes in a shooting script. 

The strips were then reordered by the Assistant Director (AD) to become the shooting schedule.

Stripboard Shooting Schedule with Cardboard

These days, a shooting schedule is often created on a computer in one of two ways:

  1. Film Shooting Schedule Template: Scenes are inputted manually into a spreadsheet for reordering. The benefit is that it’s free! The downside is that it’s a spreadsheet which means a lot of repetitive data entry and human error.
  2. Film Production Scheduling Software – With the exception of StudioBinder, most film scheduling software is  a little on the pricey side, but the benefit if a dedicated solution will ultimately save you time, limits errors, and projects a more professional image of your production.

Regardless of medium, what you will read below are universal best practices that can be applied to any shooting schedule template or film production scheduling software of choice.  

By the end of this article, you’ll be a pro when it comes to understanding the workflow principles behind creating a proper shooting schedule. 

Let’s jump in!

Before getting started, double check script formatting.

Unfortunately, most screenwriters neglect to properly format a shooting script prior to handing it off to production. As a result, it often falls on the 1st AD to make sure the script is formatted correctly otherwise errors will emerge when importing the script into scheduling software like Movie Magic Scheduling or StudioBinder

The 1st AD scans the script to and corrects any formatting errors or omissions within the screenwriting software.

What kinds of formatting corrections do they make?

  • Consolidate and correct redundant scene headings, locations and characters
  • Tag elements such as key props, vehicles, wardrobe, special effects, etc.
  • Generate scene numbers
  • etc.

A correctly formatted shooting script should import smoothly into film production scheduling software with minimal or no issues.

pro-tip-studiobinder

How to tag elements for a script breakdown sheet

Script breakdown sheets complement the shooting schedule and identify all the key elements within scenes that need to be prepped (e.g. props, wardrobe, special effects, etc). If the script was written in Final Draft, you can use Final Draft Tagger or StudioBinder. Learn more about how to create a better script breakdown sheet.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Create a Shooting Schedule.

StudioBinder Stripboard Shooting Schedule Builder - Production Scheduling Software

This is StudioBinder’s Scheduling Functionality. Creating a shooting schedule via Excel can be a serious chore (and lead to human error). An automated solution provides peace of mind for more serious productions.

1. First, import the screenplay.

After the shooting script has been formatted correctly, import it into your film scheduling software.

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Import Final Draft Script - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

After importing, all of your scenes, characters, and locations will be parsed for you.

Scenes will be color-coded based on the combination of INT/EXT and DAY/NIGHT.

If your film production software supports it, other color variations may display based on dawn, dusk, sunset, sunrise, twilight, etc.

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Stripboard View - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

Each scene strip is organized with the following details:

  • Scene Number
  • INT/ EXT (interior/ exterior)
  • Script Location (e.g. “Death Star – Docking Bay”)
  • Scene description (first action description in script)
  • Day / Night
  • Characters (labeled as a Cast ID for quick reference)
  • Shooting Location
  • Total page count (counted in 1/8ths)
Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Scene Strip Details - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

Some film production scheduling software allows you to preview the scene in script format.

This helpful to jog your memory of the content the strip represents.

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Preview Screenplay - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

Create a shooting schedule with StudioBinder. Upgrade with code READEREXCLUSIVE30 and Get 30% OFF the first month.

2. Stripboard Color Conventions

Strips are typically colored depending on whether the scene takes place at day or night and if it’s an interior or exterior.

Although various film production scheduling software have minor variations in color palettes, it’s best to stick with standard stripboard color conventions for the sake of simplicity.

DescriptionStrip Color
Day InteriorWhite
Day ExteriorYellow
Night InteriorBlue
Night ExteriorGreen
Day SeparatorBlack

3. Assign cast and shooting locations to each scene strip.

The next step is to make sure that every scene strip has the correct talent and shooting location assigned. This will help you quickly bucket the shooting schedule based on physical shooting locations and talent.

First thing is first, confirm the correct talent has been added to every scene. Don’t forget to include non-speaking characters too!

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Assign Cast ID - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

…and then assign shooting locations to every scene.

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Assign Shooting Location - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

Pro Tip:

If your shooting script has formatting errors (e.g. some instances of characters or location names have typos), they’ll come in as duplicate characters and locations.

After importing, it’s a good idea to double check all of your script locations and characters to ensure there are no duplicates or formatting issues. Most film scheduling software allow you to view locations and characters so you can edit and merge as required.

See why formatting the shooting script correctly prior to importing is so important!

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Merge Characters and Locations - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

4. Drag-and-drop strips to create the shooting schedule.

Once all of the scenes have been added to the stripboard, it’s time to re-order them!

Since the availability of a location is the most common determinant for organizing shoot days, start by ordering your strips by location and then special requirements (next section).

Film Scheduling Software - Shooting Schedule Template - StudioBinder Film and TV Production Management Software

Pro Tip: Consider shooting schedule limitations

As you reorder the stripboard, consider all the factors that will affect your shooting schedule:

  • Talent availability
  • Crew availability
  • Location availability
  • Vehicles and equipment availability
  • Minors and stunts availability
  • How many pages can you shoot per day?
  • What days will you shoot?  (M-F or weekends only)
  • Days you can not shoot (holidays, travel, weather issues, etc.)
  • Changes in physical appearances of a character (hair, weight, facial hair, etc)

5. Speed up reordering workflow with automations.

Numerous film production scheduling software offer auto-reordering options to help group strips for you. 

This should get you 80% to the finish line.

It looks like this:

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Auto-Order Scene Strips - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

Just select up to three sorting parameters of your choice. 

If you’ve already assigned shooting locations to your scenes, our recommendation is to set the first sorting rule to Shooting Location so it groups them all together for you. If you don’t have shooting locations secured yet, then sort by Script Location (scene headings) instead.

We also suggest secondary and tertiary rules to group DAY then NIGHT and INT then EXT.

6. Then add "day breaks" to mark the end of each day.

A daybreak marks the end of a shoot day. It’s usually black or gray and include the day of days, shoot date, and total page count for that day.

For example:

Production Board  Day Break Close Up

After your strips are roughly ordered, add daybreaks to mark the end of each day.

The day break should automatically calculate the day of days and the total page count of the strips it pertains to.

Here’s what is should look like:

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Add a Day Break to Stripboard - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

Pro Tip: Auto-Add Day Breaks

If your film scheduling software supports it, we recommend using an “auto-day break” feature which will automatically add a day break after a number of pages of your choosing. This saves a good chunk of time.

A general rule for a dialogue-heavy indie film is to add a day break every 3-5 pages, but you can set it to anything you like.

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Auto-Day Break - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

After the day breaks have been bulk added, continue fine tuning the placement of the strips and day breaks.

7. Use banners to add notes to the shooting schedule.

A banner is simply a custom strip that represents something that takes a significant chunk of time away from the shoot day, such as a meal break or company move.

Make sure that banners are accounted for in the total estimated time for the day.

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Add a New Banner to Stripboard - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software
Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Banner Stripboard - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

8. The Boneyard

It may sound a little morbid, but a “boneyard” is simply a backlog of strips kept away from the main shooting schedule.

Strips that are moved to the boneyard are typically non-essential or removed scenes due to script changes or shooting delays.

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Boneyard - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

9. Print & Share the shooting schedule to get feedback.

Once you have a preliminary shooting schedule ready, it’s time to confer with the key production staff (UPM, 1st AD, Director, etc) for feedback and approval.

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Print Stripboard - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

Remember, your shooting schedule is a living document, and schedules change over time.

Keep it updated. Even through production.

There will be times after you start shooting when scenes may need to be cut or bumped to other days or locations.

Just return to your stripboard, update the strips as required, and export a new version of the shooting schedule.

10. Create call sheets for each day break.

This is more of a StudioBinder Pro Tip, but let’s say you’ve worked hard and created a detailed shooting schedule.

Now you’re heading towards production and about to create call sheets…

Wouldn’t it be great if you could import all those scene details into a call sheet automatically for you?

We’ve got you covered.

Just click the + icon on the Day Break:

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Add to Call Sheet from Day Break - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

And a new call sheet will be created with all of details from that day’s scenes: Shoot Date, Day out of Days, Shooting Location Instructions, Cast, Scene Schedule, Banners, and the next day’s Advance Schedule.

Shooting Schedule Template and Film Scheduling Software - Schedule Added from Stripboard - StudioBinder Film Production Management Software

Poof. Saved you 1 hour. :)

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Wrapping Up

Now that you have a shooting schedule created, the next step is to get started on creating your script breakdown sheets! Don’t worry. We have an entire step-by-step guide on how to break down a script right here. The post also includes a free script breakdown sheet template just in case you need one.

Create a shooting schedule with StudioBinder. Upgrade with code READEREXCLUSIVE30 to Get 30% OFF the first month.

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