A Guide to Writing A Shooting Script

The shooting script is the filmmaker’s way to communicate well with the other departments of his production. It also saves time and money and if your shooting script is detailed enough, they’ll be fewer chances to make mistakes that may crash your film.

The shooting script is really the film on paper so it is a very important tool to deliver your director’s vision to the crew along with storyboard and floor plan. In the shooting script the director is breaking down the screenplay into shots, so it is kind of another draft of the script written by the director, Therefore the shots you write in the shooting script will define the scene. 

The preparation for the shooting script

Before you start working on the shooting script, make sure the script is written in the right format. It is very important. If the script is not formatted in the right way, you are working with a broken tool and you won’t be able to know how long each scene is. You can read my post on film script format to learn more about the subject but for now, the most important element is that the scenes are numbered.


read the script again and this time, think about the general atmosphere of the script. Don’t go into too many details at this point, just think about the general atmosphere. Your next step will be to decide how to get that atmosphere from your shots. I recommend reading my post on the director’s vision to understand how to do this.

Writing the shooting script

When writing the shooting script, you should think about 3 main aspects:

1. The camera, 2. The lightning and 3. Blocking of the characters.

The camera

When we say camera, we mean camera angle shots and the type of lens you plan to use. Think about the shot you want for each action. I like to write it down first in the script itself since it helps me to visualize the film better. When you are done, go through all the script and see if something pops up to you in a wrong way and if the staging in each scene is clear. Now, go through the shots again and think what type of lens will bring you the best results.

Lighting and colors

Now it is time to think about more image techniques to create your atmosphere, so this is a good time to talk with your photographed director (if you haven’t done so until now) and see if he has any ideas. Your object now is to make sure that the theme or premise of the film is expressed by these shots.

Blocking of the characters

The third step is to think about the blocking of the characters. How do you want them to move within the frame? Every move they make will has a meaning, so bring some good thoughts into this.

The shooting script format

Click to see shooting scripts templates and shooting script examples to see what does a shooting script look like.

The shooting script is a table with details about the shots. It should contain these details: Number of the scene, Number of the shot, the explanation as to who is in the shot, what is happening in it, time of day, the special camera needs (like Steadicam) and the location of the scene. If there are camera movements, write them down too. you should also write the dialogues in each shot and special sound effects that are important for the scene. If the rhythm of the scene is important (like in most action scenes, for example), then write down the timing of each shot too.

Homework- write your own shooting script

  Your homework is to find a screenplay (you can find many on google), choose a scene you like. It is better to find a scene you don’t know well and to start. If it possible, find the real scene and compare the director choices for shots with yours

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