A screenplay is much different than other fiction or creative non-fiction pieces of writing in that it is really a blueprint that must then be interpreted by producers, the director, director of photography and so on. The screenplay itself is broken down into the different elements, locations, characters, and, especially, scenes. Each scene stands autonomously in a sense and the complete screenplay is really just the proper arrangement of each of these scenes. To get a look at these scenes so that you can have an overview of what you are working with you can construct a scene list. A scene list in a screenplay can mean a variety of different things, so here are some examples of how this scene list could be presented.
List the Scene Headings
Really a screenplay’s scene list is just the basic information for each scene listed in the proper sequence. The information that is pertinent to a scene list is also the information that is included in the scene heading. This scene heading information would include whether it was interior or exterior, what the scene was in terms of location, and what time the scene is taking place. If you want to manually put together a document that includes the scene list you can simply port over the scene headings and then add numbers to a left hand column so that they are easy for reference. Here is what this screenwriting scene list example would appear on the page.
1. EXT. – John’s Front Yard – Dusk
2. INT. – John’s Bedroom – Night
You could also add a little more identifiable information or simply add a short sentence or two outlining the basic details from the scene.
The Automatic Scene List
When you are working in screenwriting software like Celtx or Final Draft you are going to find that your scene list is constructed automatically by the order of the scenes themselves. In Celtx, for example, you can simply look to the lower left hand corner of the display and you will find your scene list. Here you can also select your scene and then jump to it in your screenplay easily. This scene list also helps things to be identified in the Master Catalogue when you are adding elements to it, such as characters, props, locations, special fx, and sets.
Re-Arranging the Scene List
The script itself is going to be altered constantly, probably right up until the actual production date. This means that you are going to likely remove scenes, add others, and rearrange existing ones. This will alter the general character of the scene lists and therefore you may want to keep it accessible for changes. Many people use note cards that they stick to a board so they can look how scenes are arranged. Screenwriting software like Celtx and Final Draft will make this easy, but you have to constantly update the files no matter what. The only way that a scene list is effective is if it is altered all the way through pre-production. Once you have settled on your scene list you can put together the actual production schedule, but if that is in place it will be hard to actually change the scene list unless it is just rearranging their position in the story.