Script Analysis



Even if the scene is pure exposition, the actors (and the director) must play the relationships, the personal, human, emotional event of the scene, not the informations.


  1. Facts and Evidence
  2. Questions
  3. Images
  4. What Just Happened
  5. Character’s Spine
  6. Objectives
  7. Beats
  8. Verbs for each beat
  9. Central Emotional Event
  10. Domestic Event
  11. Physical Life
  12. Personal Connections
  13. Vision

(These are brainstorming tools. So don’t filter and carry the idea.)

What are the facts when the scene begins?

How do you know or deduce these facts?

“If a woman comes to your room at 3:00am, pay no attention to any other aspect of the scene.” -David Rabe (screenwriter of “The Firm”)

Make a long list of questions about the characters, their situations, their behavior. The questions are more important than the questions are more important than the answers at this stage.

A helpful way to insure you avoid judging the characters and access our own intuition is to use this trick: With every question you ask your characters, ask them about yourself as well. 

There are three levels of images that are useful for us to see into the characters’ world:

First Level: the images in the text and our free-associations with these images

Second Level: the images of the character’s life implied by the images of the text.

Third Level: the level of artistic metaphor.

batman: how did the story begin? how do they say it’s important?

(It’s the first scene of the movie, dramatic music)

The next three steps require looking at each individual character’s motivations, and can be broken down into three distinct categories: spine, objective, and verb (intention)


The spine is the character’s super objective. This is what he wants out of life, his driving need that pushes him trough all his decisions.

Each character in the story should have a spine because every real human has a spine. Their spine isn’t the Mc Guffin. That is, it isn’t the thing that the text says the character wants.

Two different people can want the same thing, but that doesn’t mean they have the same spine.

The objective is what the character wants or needs in a particular scene. This won’t change throughout the scene.

This won’t change throughout the scene.

The most useful objectives are simple and have a physical goal (wanting the other person to smile or leave the room)

Ask the question, “What do I want the other character to feel.”



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