Scripts come to the Line Producer or UPM either un-numbered or numbered incorrectly. I have never gotten one which was correctly done. In the Script Structure section, we talked about breaking an action description into two scenes, if needed. Here we will discuss how to renumber the scripts' sluglines, or number them freshly. For all examples in this section, I use Final Draft as the example application.
NUMBERING FROM SCRATCH
Numbering the scenes in a script when there are no other scenes is the easiest thing to do. Additionally, when you are in doubt of the scene numbering, follow these instructions in order to freshly number the script.
- Step 1: Check that every slugline is marked as a slugline. It may happen that there was a slugline that was not denoted as one, which will cause no number to be associated with that scene. That will mess things up.
- Step 2: Put your cursor at the very beginning of the script.
- Step 3: Go to the "Production" menu
- Step 4: Select "Scene Numbers". You should see a pop-up window like below.
- Step 5: As indicated in the example, select: "Number/Renumber" & "Number from current scene"
- Step 6: Press "OK". Your script should now be numbered at each slugline
- Step 7: WAIT! Check the entire script. Make sure all sluglines were denoted as a slugline. If needed, re-do the process from step one.
Once you number the script and distribute that version to the crew as the numbered script, you are bound to those numbers. Make sure you lock the pages too. Many other people and departments will rely on those scene numbers for reference in their own work. If you change it, it may cause great havoc with others. So, simply put, do not change scene numbers after you have locked the script.
BREAKING SCENES & USING PARTS
I addressed this briefly in Script Structure, but it's important to know how to break scenes. I mention this here, because as you number you script and re-slug any scenes which need it, you'll want to ensure that you are as clear and concise as possible.
There are certain situations where you should still call it the same scene number and then use "Parts". This is when the scene is partially broken by an interviening action, flashback or the sequence 'bops' around quickly. Here are some common issues:
The Flashback / Flashforward
A character is sitting in a diner and sees someone. Suddenly we (the audience) is whisked away to another time, in the form of our characters memories. In this case, you may want to leave this flashback/flashforward numbered as one scene, but break the scene into parts. For example, the part with our character in the diner would be "Scene 18 p1" and the memory will be "Scene 18 p2".
The Phone Call
This is the classic one. A character is talking on the phone. If you show both sides of the conversation, you are technically moving to a new location - which should trigger a new scene number (slug line). However, for the sake of clean scene numbering, a more elegant way is to call break this sequence into parts and call, for example, "Scene 56 p1" the initial location and "Scene 56 p2" the other end of the line. Making two different strips, you can more easily schedule and consider elements needs for each side.
To be clear, it's not necessarily wrong to number lots of scenes into their own slug line, thereby giving each it's own scene number. However, you'll find that sometimes it creates an odd flow to the script or days of shooting what seems like six scenes, when really it's only one.
For now, as you number the script, be thinking ahead to the Script Breakdown that you'll do next.
Special thanks to Jonathan Zimmerman for contributions to this section.
ADDING A SCENE INTO A LOCKED SCRIPT
Sure, it happens that someone wants to add a scene in-between two other numbered scenes or you missed an action description that should have been split. There are ways to handle this.
Use an Apple
That is to say, place a "A" before the scene number of the next scene number. That's confusing. So, if you want to add a scene between 88 and 89, call the new scene A89. Most script supervisors might kill you if you add the "A" after the number. This is because when they signify takes and set-ups on the set, they use letters after the scene number. As in, the first set-up is 45, but move the camera and you are still shooting scene 45, that will become 45A. After (A)pple, you can use (B)aker, then (C)harlie, then (D)enver. After D, you may want to consider alerting the crew and re-numbering the script, otherwise, things get messy really fast.
Use a Part
When faced with a mistake that you may have missed splitting an action description, you can always leave the script alone and simply create a "part" strip in your breakdown. I talk more about this in Scheduling, under "Breaking Scenes into Parts".
OMITTING A SCENE
This one is probably the easiest one to handle. Final Draft has a function set-up to do this very thing. Follow these steps:
- Step 1: Put your cursor on the slugline for the scene to be omitted.
- Step 2: Go to the "Production Menu"
- Step 3: Select "Omit Scene"
The scene is now OMITTED. There will be a small arrow next to the word "Omitted". To undo the omitted scene, simply click on the drill-down arrow next to the omitted scene number to restore it. Dandy fun!