C1: Film Production

Learning Objective: 
to understand the processes involved in 
planning and creating a film 
Success Criteria:
AO3:  plan and construct a screenplay using appropriate technical and creative skills
AO4:  undertake and apply appropriate research

Story to Screen

You are going to create a character and a story, write a screenplay and storyboard, then shoot a very short film.
You need to include as much invention and originality as possible to make it interesting and dramatic.
Try to not rely too much on dialogue in your scene, but create narrative interest visually, through the positioning of your performers and objects in the frame, through camera angles and a range of shots, and through character performance.

Finding Inspiration!

Choose a cashew nut.

Imagine the cashew nut is a character in a story.
How did it get the markings it has?
Is it damaged or in good shape?
Why is it the size it is?
How old is it?
Is it rich or poor?
Where is it from?
Is it male or female?
What kind of house does it live in?
What kind of job does it have?
What does it do for fun?
What kind of personality does it have?

Create a character profile for your cashew nut. Include the following information:-

Name. Age. Family. Habitat. Job, Greatest wish or need. Greatest fear. Most important or special being.

Team up with another cashew character and write a short scene following this outline. Be imaginative and creative. Try not to rely too  much on dialogue but aim to create narrative interest.
    • Cashew nut 1 is already in a room.
    • Cashew nut 2 approaches the room, opens the door and comes in.
    • They have a very brief conversation in which Cashew nut 1 gives Cashew nut 2 an object and then Cashew nut 2 leaves the room.


At its heart, a screenplay is a blueprint for the film it will one day become. It is crucial to remember that film is primarily a visual medium. As a screenwriter, you must show what's happening in a story, rather than tell. The very nature of screenwriting is based on how to show a story on a screen, and pivotal moments can be conveyed through something as simple as a look on an actor's face.

You are going to write a screenplay for your story. Screenplays have certain conventions that you must adhere to.

1. Have a look at the screenplay for the music video, ‘(All Along The) Watchtower’ (dir. Hardy, 2012)
2. Note down your observations about the way it is formatted.
3. Share your observations with a partner and compare your notes.
4. Label the screenplay with the relevant elements:

Screenplays are traditionally written on 8 1/2" x 11" 3-hole punched paper*. * US Letter size measures 8.5 by 11 inches - or 216 mm x 279 mm, which is smaller than A4. US Letter size is a recognised standard adopted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) whereas the A4 is the International Standard (ISO) used in most countriesIt is fine to use A4 size paper for your script.

A page number appears in the upper right-hand corner (in the header). No page number is printed on the first page. 

The type style used is the Courier 12 font. The Courier 12 font is used for timing purposes. One script page in Courier 12 roughly averages one minute of onscreen film time. Experienced readers can detect a long script by merely weighing the stack of paper in their hand. 

The top and bottom margins are between 1.25cm/0.5" and 2.5cm/1". The left margin is between 3cm/1.2" and 4cm/1.6". The right margin is between 1.25cm/0.5" and 2.5cm/1"The extra inch of white space on the left of a script page allows for binding with brads, yet still imparts a feeling of vertical balance of the text on the page

Scene Heading
Indent: Left: 0.0" Right: 0.0" Width: 6.0"

A scene heading is a one-line description of the location and time of day of a scene, also known as a "slugline." It should always be in CAPS.

Example: EXT. WRITERS STORE - DAY reveals that the action takes place outside The Writers Store during the daytime.

Indent: Left: 0.0cm/0.0" Right: 0.0cm/0.0" Width: 15cm/6.0"

When a new scene heading is not necessary but some distinction needs to be made in the action, you can use a subheader. Be sure to use these sparingly, 
as a script full of subheaders is generally frowned upon. A good example is when there are a series of quick cuts between two locations, you would use the term INTERCUT and the scene locations.

Indent: Left: 0.0cm/0.0" Right: 0.0cm/0.0" Width: 15cm/6.0"

The narrative description of the events of a scene, written in the present tense. Also less commonly known as direction, visual exposition, blackstuff, description or scene direction.

Remember - only things that can be seen and heard should be included in the action.

Indent: Left: 5cm/2.0" Right: 0.0cm/0.0" Width: 10cm/4.0"

When a character is introduced, his/her name should be capitalised within the action. 
For example: The door opens and in walks LIAM, a thirty-something hipster with attitude to spare.

A character's name is CAPPED and always listed above his lines of dialogue. 
Minor characters may be listed without names, for example, "TAXI DRIVER" or "CUSTOMER."

Indent: Left: 2.5cm/1.0" Right: 3.8cm/1.5" Width: 9cm/3.5"

Lines of speech for each character. Dialogue format is used any time a character is heard speaking, even for off-screen and voice-overs.

Indent: Left: 3.5cm/1.5" Right: 5cm/2.0" Width: 6.3cm/2.5"

A parenthetical is a direction for the character that is either attitude or action-oriented. With roots in the playwriting genre, today, parentheticals are used very rarely, and only if absolutely necessary. 
Why? Two reasons. 
First, if you need to use a parenthetical to convey what's going on with your dialogue, then it probably just needs a good re-write. 
Second, it's the director's job to instruct an actor on how to deliver a line, and everyone knows not to encroach on the director's turf!

Placed after the character's name, in parentheses

An abbreviated technical note placed after the character's name to indicate how the voice will be heard onscreen, for example, if the character is speaking as a voice-over, it would appear as LIAM (V.O.).

Indent: Left: 10cm/4.0" Right: 0.0cm/0.0" Width: 5cm/2.0"

Transitions are film editing instructions, and generally only appear in a shooting script. Transition verbiage includes:

Avoid using a transition unless there is no other way to indicate a story element. For example, you might need to use DISSOLVE TO: to indicate that a large amount of time has passed.

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A shot tells the reader the focal point within a scene has changed. Like a transition, there's rarely a time when a screenwriter should insert shot directions. Once again, that's the director's job. 

Examples of Shots:


Google Docs
If you want to collaborate on a script, Google Docs is an excellent and easy way  for your team to be able to work on your script even when you are not together. Below are two templates you can use - be sure to MAKE A COPY before editing the template.

Adobe Story

Adobe® Story lets you write screenplays and scripts quickly, use scripts to generate schedules and production reports, and collaborate online. Part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Story helps production run smoothly from planning through post-production. story.adobe.com


Write from any browser solo or with friends. No formatting headaches. There's nothing to install, it's free, and it's easy to use. With Plotbot, you can create private screenplays to work alone or with invited friends, or you can create public screenplays to find new friends. All changes are tracked to each writer, and you can revert to prior versions at any time. We handle all of the formatting—you just click the text to edit and write, easy as pie. All you have to think of are great ideas! www.plotbot.com

Write screenplays, stageplays, AV and more formatted to industry-standards, and get innovative tools like collaborative writing and a complete version history. www.celtx.com


You are going to create a storyboard for your film. It is an important document for ensuring that all elements of the story will work visually. 
A storyboard is a planning document to share and develop ideas and to anticipate potential practical problems. 

Make sure you have a very clear visual image of the style you wish to create in your film.

Stanley Pickle - FULL FILM ONLINE from Vicky Mather on Vimeo


1. Look at this screenplay EXTRACT
2. Create a thumbnail storyboard with a partner to show how you visual this screenplay; using simple lines and stick-figure subjects, sketch each setup in a frame, observing just a few conventions:-
Show zooms by sketching the wide-angle position, drawing a box around the telephoto position within it and adding diagonal arrows to show whether the movement is in or out. 
For pans or tilts between two distinct compositions, show each one as a separate frame, with an arrow between frames to link them.
3. Compare your version with the director's storyboard.
4. Watch the video. Think about:
  • How close to Corin’s decisions in the finished video were your choices for the storyboard? You will notice that he changed the running order of events.
  • Consider the importance of casting for this video - Ed Sheeran as the getaway driver, Jaime Winstone as the girlfriend, the look of the mother and the sister.
  • Corin describes this video as the imagined final scene in a full feature. What do you imagine would have happened in the rest of the film, leading up to it?
  • The overall ‘look’ of the film will help to establish a sense of genre and any visual references which the filmmaker wants to draw upon.
  • Does the look of this video remind you of any films you have seen or particular genres?
5. Listen to the director explain why he made the decisions he did in adapting storyboard to screen.

TASK: Create a storyboard for your short film. Create effective mise-en-scene by visualising the story and the best camera angles to tell it.

A shot list is a list of every shot in your film from beginning to end. Think of a shot list as the writing on a storyboard, without the pictures. Often shot lists are just quick notes that help you remember everything you need in a particular sequence.

Though simple lists of shots don't let you pre-test potential setups, they do allow you to systematically verify that you are covering every angle you need. Shot lists also help with organisation and a great way to avoid missing filming key shots.

Using a shotlist is a great way to improve the planning of your film. It’s an opportunity to sit down and roll the movie projector in your head, imagining what your film will look like on the screen.


Imagine a seedy detective's apartment, at night. From the front of the room a neon sign flashes red lights through the window. There's a bumping sound then a directional desk lamp flips on, creating a sharp, narrow pool of light, revealing the detective, who was asleep on his blotter, an empty whiskey bottle next to him. He looks wary. There's a knock, he rises, his office door is frosted, we see the name of his detective agency in reverse, and the silhouette of a person standing in front of it. The detective opens the door and the light from the hallway continues to back-light the mysterious figure. She steps in, still shrouded in darkness. "I may have been followed," she says and goes to the back window where beautiful soft moonlight illuminates her face. The detective stands in the front of the room, his chiseled face revealed then hidden in the rhythm of the neon sign. Here you have four separate lights to work with as you plan blocking for the rest of your scene. Think of the light and movement that best works for
Download the TEMPLATE


Editing: Transitions in Time and Space

A commonly held view of the job of an editor is that they are a technician who simply assembles the film from someone else’s plan, but the creative role of the editor in deciding how the footage can be put together to tell the story is crucial. In particular, the process of editing in film plays with time and space.

Like the screenwriter and the director, the editor has the ability to play with time and space and to change the way the story is told.

Very few film narratives run in real time. The viewer takes for granted that sequences will compress or expand time (taking out the boring bits or holding a moment for the purpose of suspense).

Stories need not always be told in the order in which the events occur. As viewers, we are used to filmmakers filling backstory or showing sequences out of order for dramatic effect. We can jump about in time or even be presented with two time periods simultaneously.

The editor has the ability to restrict what the viewer is seeing or expand what is shown to give us information withheld from characters onscreen.

The editor can even change our perception of physical space through the choices they make.

You might like to relate any of these ideas to films you know well and share your thoughts with your fellow learners.

editing is about transitions in time and space. Very rarely does story time in a film entirely match real time - apart from anything else, it can be quite boring!

Part of an editor’s work is to decide, from the material shot, what can be left in and what should be taken out. In other words, what is necessary for us to see for the advancement of story and for the development of the characters.

Imagine a scene in which a little old lady goes to the shop to buy a pint of milk and then returns home for breakfast. What do you need to show and what can you cut out?

Post a comment below to describe what you would show if you were editing this sequence.

If you prefer, you can use the storyboard template again to sketch out your sequence, then post a link to a photo.


Editing with still images

You’ll find links at the end of this step to download still images from two films. There are 32 images for each film and four PDF contact sheets with eight images to a page for reference.

Pursued involves a man and a woman together who appear to be in pursuit of a younger man, set in the Barbican in London.

Mainline Station is the story of a young woman encountering various people on Euston station in London.


  • Click the link at the end of this step to download the 32 images from either Pursued or Mainline Station
  • Print out the photos
  • Re-arrange them into a paper-based story
  • You may use an image more than once and you may discard images

Questions to consider while editing

  • What is the overall mood or atmosphere of this scene?
  • What’s going on in the characters’ heads?
  • What has led to this point in the story?
  • What kind of music would best suit this scene?
  • How would you control the pace of this scene?

Editing with video files

For this task, you will need video editing software. If you don’t have access to this, go back to Step 5.14 where we’ve provided some advice.

You will use the actual rushes for the scene, and work on editing them to create the most effective version of story. You will need to adjust the length of each clip, and think carefully about the transitions between them. We have also provided a variety of music and sound effects which you can choose from to accompany the sequence. Experiment with editing these to create the desired impact for your interpretation of the scene.

Background story

Clint, aged around 7, has been making a packed lunch for himself and his unemployed father. After packing the sandwiches in a plastic box the pair set out for the local town where the dad has an appointment for a job interview. Arriving at a local café, dad buys the cheapest snack possible, and asks the waitress to keep an eye on Clint while he goes to an amusement arcade across the road for the interview.

The scene starts with Clint alone in the café, except for the waitress, who is working at the other end of the room. He looks out of the café window to see if he can see his father returning from the interview. As his father has been gone some time, Clint grows anxious. Suddenly, he decides to leave the cafe. He picks up his sandwich box and runs to the door; at that moment a vagrant enters, and Clint retreats to his chair in the café. The vagrant is hungry and has his eye on the boy’s packed lunch.


  • Follow the link below to download the rushes
  • Import the files into your editing software
  • Assemble a sequence that shows your interpretation of the story outlined above
  • Add music and sound effects as you see fit
  • Save and export the sequence

Note: the ZIP file below is a 109MB download, so we advise against attempting to download it on a mobile data connection. The files are provided as H.264 MOV and MP3.

Questions to consider while editing

  • What is the overall mood or atmosphere of this scene?
  • What’s going on in Clint’s head? Is he frightened, confused, distressed?
  • Does he give his lunch box willingly or out of fear?
  • Is the old man or Clint aware of the waitress in this scene?
  • What kind of music best suits this scene?
  • How will you control the pace of this scene?

summary of the choices you made. How did you construct tension and establish the atmosphere of the scene through editing?