Advice from an Indie Producer: The Page Turn

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After you’ve hired your crew, it’s now time to schedule a meeting with your key department heads to go scene by scene through the script, which is called a “page turn.”

A page turn ensures all the department heads are in alignment with the producer/director’s vision. This meeting saves time and money because it reduces the guessing game of what items need to purchase, rent or borrow for the shoot.

Who’s invited?
The key decision-makers: producer, director, DP, 1st AD, UPM, production designer, costume designer, hair and makeup (if there is a strong focus on these areas in the script, such as a horror film or period piece), and the location manager.

What happens at the page turn?
The producer sets an intention of what they want to accomplish (getting everyone on the same page). Typically, the AD will read the scene headings and summarize the dialogue. It’s important for her or him to run the meeting because it sets the tone with the crew on how the set will be run. It also gives the crew a chance to bond with the AD and to figure our how to work effectively with him or her.

After the AD reads a scene, each department has an opportunity to address any questions they have. For example, the production designer might ask what color and type of bedding the director wants for a character’s bed. The costume designer might ask if the lead actress should be in a skirt or pants for the scene and if they’re required to purchase “doubles” (e.g., in case of stunts where the clothes might get stained or ripped).

The AD also clarifies the “coverage” that the director and DP would like to get for each scene. Coverage is the type and amount of shots you need to shoot out the scene. For example, the scene description reads, “Girl walks down the stairs.” Seems simple enough; however, it might end up being complicated. The director could ask for a steadicam, which means you will need to hire someone for that day who has steadicam gear and experience. Production (which includes the UPM, line producer, and location manager) can clarify the logistics of that stair scene—what kind of steps, how many, if there’s dialogue or will it be MOS (shot without sound). All of those components will affect what location will work for the scene, budget, and crew needed.

How do you know you’ve had a successful page turn?
The crew starts to bond. They now have a clear understanding of what they have to buy, how it fits into their budget, and how production will help support their departments.

Stay tuned to learn about the actor’s table read.

— CLAUDINE MARROTTE

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