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Script Pages, and the Rule of Eighths * 03 August 2011

When you see tweets from Sherlock director Paul McGuigan, he often writes something along the lines of '7 4/8 pages', as he has today.

But what does this mean exactly?

On a film set, theres a person known as a script supervisor. One of the ways that person keeps a close eye on the script and it's filming progress is to divide it up, by page, into 1/8ths, to aid the timing and planning of a day's work.

This is literally done by ruling across the page in about inch wide blocks with a pencil, enclosing a block of stage direction or a paragraph of dialogue.  

This is done as there are often multiple scenes on a page, or a scene can last multiple pages - there is no standard length.

By dividing the page up, it standardises the length of material to be filmed from the script. So a scene could last 4/8ths - or half - a page in the script, for example.  

A very low number for a day's filming would indicate the filming of something complicated, such as an action sequence, with complex and time consuming camera movement.

A higher number is more likely short sequences of simple action, or dialogue.

When 8/8 pages are shot, that roles over to a complete page, so instead '8/8 page' becomes '1 page.'

So today, '7 4/8 pages' means seven and a half pages of the script for A Scandal in Belgravia are planned to be filmed. Its not the total length of a single scene, more the total pages of the script that are shot in a day, on one or more locations. They can be from all over the episode, out of chronological order.

 
 
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