Shooting Day Workload

How to figure out what can be achieved on a given shooting day.

As well as working around the day out of days for each actor, one of the key challenges of preparing a shooting schedule is the assessment of how many shots and scenes can be realized on a shooting day. The time required for a scene combination is assessed on the basis of three measurements: pages, estimated time and setups. While all three pieces of information are not always available when making the shooting schedule, the more details you can include, the more precise a shooting day can be.

The written scene lengths can be read directly from the script. A script page is split into 1/8 steps and is specified in 1/8-step increments – a half-page scene is 4/8-page long. However, pages are misleading as a measurement for judging a time effort because identical scene lengths do not imply an identical effort: A one-page dialog scene is faster to implement than a page made from directories and camera instructions. Pages are therefore only suitable for assessing a shooting day, if one includes additional information. As a rule of thumb, it is assumed that a script page covers about 50 seconds of film time.

Keeping an eye on the estimated time and number of pages helps not overloading shooting days.
Keeping an eye on the estimated time and number of pages helps not overloading shooting days.

A second measurement for judging a day of shooting is the estimated time. It indicated how long a scene's duration is estimated to be in the finished film. Estimated times are created by the Script Supervisor prior to the scheduled work. The estimated time compensates for the inaccuracy of the pages in terms of scene duration, and in combination, both measurements allow a more precise judgement of a day of shooting than a single piece of information.

The estimated time is only useful with additional information when it comes to assessing the time required. A dialogue scene with an estimated time of one minute requires much less effort than an action scene with an identical estimated time. Please note: it is important not to confuse the estimated time with the scheduled duration. The latter is a measurement of how long it will take to capture a shot or scene.

The best basis for assessing the temporal requirements is the number of intended shots for a scene: the camera setups. This measurement is the only one that has a relation to the time that will be required. How many settings are possible on a shooting day depends on how the director and the camera work and how much shooting time is available. Setups, however, also have an inaccuracy: they make no statement about the actually necessary working hours, because they do not consider set changes and other time-consuming steps.