Guerrilla Guide to Producing 3D Films on a Budget – Pt 2: Shot Breakdown

In these series of posts we’ll be taking about all those money savers that are NOT that obvious for the independent film producer. We already talked about The importance of investing in pre production. 

In this post I’ll talk a little about the importance of doing a Shot Breakdown, and I don’t just mean only putting it on paper, but actually sticking to it. Since sticking to your shot breakdown is one of the best ways of preventing unplanned budget leakage.

So, what is a shot breakdown and what it is for?

A shot breakdown is a detailed list of what is in each and every shot of your film. For those of you that come from a live action background, it is sort of the equivalent of a script breakdown on steroids. It contains thumbnails of every storyboard frame along with shot code, dialogue, actions, fx, characters on the shot, environment used, props,lensing info, frame duration, timecode, special considerations etc. How much information you include in it depends on the project and the vfx sup. So there is no right or wrong format for it, it’s just a matter of style and whats considered as important information.

Mind you, you want this document to be as informative and as straightforward as possible. Include the essentials without overcrowding it with information. A shot breakdown should be easy to read, clear and concise.

Who is in charge of making this shot breakdown?

Every member of the core team .The VFX Sup is normally the first one to include the important info in it. In order to start working he should already have the script breakdown, storyboard and shot code to begin. Although he is usually the first one to start, everyone in the core team adds info to it. The VFX Sup along with the producer make a final analysis after all info is in, to calculate an estimate cost for each shot.

The shot breakdown is meant to be a bible and a detailed guide of your film. It is important for a producer because it allows him or her to make decisions, to budget what every shot is going to cost, to pinpoint the money shots alongside the director and the vfx sup. It is also important because after it’s done, you’ll be able to see some expensive unimportant shots that could be accomplished some other way in order to reduce their cost and let it flow over to the money shots. This step is golden for a producer and the vfx sup. Before going into production there NEEDS to be an estimate of time and money that can be invested in every shot.

For detailed information about how to do a sensible shot breakdown, click here. Remember that the link is meant to provide a guide, but what you decide to include in yours depends on the project and your core team.

Do you have any thoughts or advice on shot breakdowns? If so, comment below!

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