Have you ever dreamed of making a movie? Are you wondering how producers and directors put everything together?
Every year, more than 700 films get released in the United States. How do so many get made?
Look no further than a CCSL (combined continuity and spotting list). This guide will break down what this is and why each aspect is important to a CCSL film.
What Is a CCSL? (Combined Continuity and Spotting List)
Before we can dive into each aspect of this, you need to understand what a CCSL is. Essentially, this is the screenplay of the movie. Here, every aspect of a shot or scene gets broken down.
You will know the sounds that you should hear, the physical actions that characters should be doing, the scenery around the characters, and the dialogue. From there, directors and producers could use all of this information to film the movie exactly how it is envisioned.
Let’s start with arguably the most important aspect of a CCSL. The dialogue is the lines that each character is going to say in every scene.
Think of it as the script in the movie. Despite everything happening around the dialogue, this is still the heart and soul of the film that you are making.
You need to make sure that the writing here sets the tone for what you want your movie to be.
Are you trying to make a dark film? What about a light comedy? How about an action film?
Whatever type of genre that you are going for, you need to make sure the dialogue reflects this and that it matches the rest of the setting that you are trying to create.
A detail of filmography that may be overlooked by some is shots. This is every frame that a director inserts into a movie. These generally last a few seconds at most.
To explain this more clearly, think about when you watch a film dialogue and there is a conversation going on between two characters. Do you notice how the camera angle switches to a close-up of one character’s face to the other character?
At that moment, you are witnessing a shot change. Shots help you get an idea of what each character in the room is feeling.
You can see the facial reactions of each character in the conversation along with any supporting characters that are reacting to the conversation that the main characters are having.
If a director organizes shots the right way, it can create a lot more empathy for characters because the shots allow us to see how each character is feeling in a scene.
Another important aspect of a CCSL is organizing the scenes that you want to portray. For those of you not familiar, a scene is when you are focusing on one area and one moment.
For example, let’s say you have footage of two characters meeting for a drink in the bar. They are talking about something important, such as one of them falling into gambling debt and starting to feel depressed about it.
By definition, a scene would be the entire conversation that happens in the bar. Then, if the next shot is one of these people going home to their family, that would be the start of a new scene.
Scenes can vary in time length based on what is happening on screen. Generally, though, these only last a few minutes and are a combination of several shots filmed from different camera angles.
As described above, dialogue is not the only thing that characters have to do while they are being filmed. Physical action is just as important in these key scenes.
It can give you a better idea of what a character is feeling emotionally as well as give you some subtle hints as to what is about to come.
An example is having one character speak some dialogue and then a second character’s reaction shot to this. Here, the action would be their facial expression. This character may shake their head or raise an eyebrow if they think the first character is lying about what they are saying.
Then, other scenes simply have very limited dialogue. Here, these scenes are led by the actions going on.
One example of this could be filming a character walking down a suburb block that should be feeling sad. You may see their head down with their hands by their side. Then, they may find an empty can and decide to throw it out of frustration.
The action here shows you what the character should be feeling without a single word of dialogue. Sometimes, directors may choose to show emotions in films physically rather than talking about them.
Something else that you need to consider is what type of setting you want the characters to have. Sometimes, a specific item in the background can even be incorporated into the scene.
An example can be two guys hanging out at a bar. One of them may like a particular beer that the bar sells. An item you can have in the scene can showcase the beer that the characters are tasting.
Then, you can go into what you want to be displayed in the background. For a bar setting, you can go several ways with this.
Do you want a bar that looks like a cabin in the mountains with wooden walls? How about a bar that is supposed to be on the rooftop of a city?
You can also go into more details about the specifics of the bar, such as adding a certain amount of barstools, possibly a dancefloor, a front door, and more.
One thing you cannot forget about in a CCSL is what type of lighting you want a scene to have. This can do a few things for a scene.
First off, it can help tell an audience what time of day it is. You can have a brighter scene for those that take place during the day and a darker scene for those that are supposed to happen during the night.
As a director, you can even have fun with what is supposed to be shadows with the lighting. Some clever directors may change the lighting from bright to dark in the middle of a scene to portray what a character is thinking. This could represent them going from being a hero to a villain.
Also, the right lighting can give you an idea of what type of environment the characters are supposed to be in. A brighter setting may be a more positive environment and a darker setting could let you know that something bad is about to happen.
Yes, this CCSL could even describe what some of the characters are wearing. Sometimes, this plays into the scene if the character is wearing something that stands out in a good or bad way.
A woman wearing a beautiful dress could get emphasized for how it makes her look in the scene. Or, something like Jerry Seinfeld wearing a puffy pirate shirt on his show could make everyone react to how much it stands out in a bad way.
You can also use wardrobe to give the audience subtle messages about how to feel about a certain character. If you choose a certain color shirt or dress to put the character in, that could bring out certain emotions towards that character.
Last but not least, this spotting list may describe what kind of makeup the characters should be in before a scene gets filmed.
Do you want these characters to have obvious makeup that can get commented on in the scene? How about more subtle makeup to hide certain marks or features on a person’s body?
The exact description is up to you, but the cosmetics of a character can be very important for how they are portrayed on film.
Get Help With Your CCSL Film
These are some things that you need to know about a CCSL (combined continuity and spotting list).
One of the most important parts of this is the dialogue. However, you have to consider how you want shots and scenes portrayed on film. Then, consider the wardrobe, makeup, action, background setting, and more to add additional features to this film.
Do you need help with your CCSL script? Click here to see what we can offer you.