Finding the Beats - Structural Script Breakdown
The tactictal approach to narrative script breakdown, while taught in theatre directing courses, rarely filters into film education. In this workshop we will approach story from the vantage point of character objective, moving into breaking down the beats of a scene, finally identifying the actions characters use in pursuit of their wants and needs.
Script breakdown must be practiced in order to be quickly and easily accessible on set. As an actor, this skill gives you immediate access to character choices for cold readings and rehearsals while keeping you open to direction through your character actions. This craft gives directors their strongest tool kit for working with actors, as well as a way of digesting material physically with their crew. For a designer, cinematographer or post production professional, using beat breakdown reveals the tonal rhythms burried within the written structure of a scene. From a production standpoint, understanding the pacing of each scene will inform your workflow on set, helping you see which beats must absolutely be captured before moving on to another sequence.
Director Samantha Shada studied scene structure as a student at Emerson College and through directing for both the stage and screen. Sam has worked across the industry with notable companies such as the William Morris Agency, the United Talent Agency, Universal Pictures, Overbrook Entertainment, and Sony Pictures Studios. She directs and produces theatre while sitting on the board of local incubator Brimmer St. Theatre Co. Sam also programs a monthly screening series at the American Cinematheque titled Seeking our Story, which features influential films directed by women.
If bringing scenes from your own work to play with, please bring enough copies for the entire group. We will also disect classic texts to practice quickly approaching new material and finding the common language to communicate with everyone else on a produciton.