Movie Production Template

Let me explain how to create a Movie Production Template and how to use it:

First, I create a separate .eco file for the production. My main Notepad is called Scene by Scene. In it, I show a folder for each scene, each one named by scene # and then the script's slugline for that scene (i.e. "24: Ext. Highway - Night".

The TLI (Top Level Item) for each folder is a repetition of the folder name ... the 2nd level is a brief description of the scene (i.e. "They drive away from the restaurant"), so that when sub-items appear later, this parent item will make it obvious which Night Highway shot it's referring to.

The third (and further) levels are reserved for notes, questions, thoughts, reminders, etc., to be filled in later.

Under Format / Outline styles I create different styles for each level, so it reads more easily.

I then set up my Columns. The first one is Department, and refers to a Departments folder, the sub-folders of which refer to each department: production, transportation, camera, art, etc. For this column I generate a drop-down list with each department's name.

The next two columns are Set and Location. Again, each refers to folders, the sub-folders of which are all the various sets (Fred's House, Jane's office), and locations we'll actually be shooting (L.A., NY, Vancouver).

Sometimes I'll have a checkmark column for 2nd Unit, and another checkmark column for multiple cameras. And the final column is a number column, which I use just for scene numbers.

Now ... here's how I use all this. First, every scene gets its Set and Location chosen in the appropriate column.

Then, random notes get entered. If I think I want to have a techno crane in scene 4, I create an item under Scene 4 "Use Techno crane" and check off Camera and Production in the Dept. column.

If I want Fred's house to be painted red in Scene 78, I make that item and check off Art in the Dept. Column.


Then, I create separate notepads for Departments, Sets and Locations. So if I'm talking to the Production Designer, I open up the Departments Notepad, and under the Art Department folder are all the notes I've made in various scenes for the Art Dept.

If I'm talking to the Vancouver production manager, I go to the Locations notepad, and open up the Vancouver folder, and there are all the notes, questions, thoughts, etc., I have that apply to Vancouver.

If the company is discussing the plan for shooting at Fred's House, I open the Sets notepad, and look under the Fred's House folder for all the notes that apply to scenes in Fred's house.

It's an amazing organizing tool. But it doesn't stop there.

I'll also store links to images (location photos, research photos, story boards, set diagrams, etc.) under the appropriate scenes. So if we're scouting a location I open up the laptop, go to the Locations notepad, and can show everyone all the pertinent images for that particular location, simply by clicking on the links.

I'll also have a notepad called Schedule. This one requires some maintenance, but it's good to have. In the Scene by Scene notepad - the main one - I'll have yet another column: Schedule. The number I enter is the shooting day, followed by a decimal point and then another number. So the first thing scheduled to shoot on day 5 is numbered 5.1, the next is 5.2, etc. When the schedule is first set, all these numbers get entered. Since each day is its own folder, the Schedule notepad allows me to see each scene (and all its notes, images, etc.) grouped by the shooting schedule. Of course, since the schedule changes so constantly, and scenes get moved around, it takes some frequent attention to keep this one right. But again, when you're shooting, it's nice to have things grouped together that way.

And finally, I'll have Notepads not tied to the Scene-by-Scene notepad, that I use as outlines to manage information: Casting lists, research, crew lists, etc. For casting, I'll have a folder for each part, and then enter the names of the people we see for each role, and notes on their reading. I can have a checkmark or priority column to mark the ones I want to see for callbacks, or a notes column for brief remarks, such as availability or status. The great thing about Ecco for this kind of use is that it's so incredibly customizable. Whatever your needs are, you can pretty much twist it around to suit you.