How do you work on a screenplay?
Breaking it down into it’s first, big parts helps. Those parts are the scenes.
As actors, directors, writers, producers we work on plays and films scene by scene. They are the units of work.
What are the features of a scene?
Beginning, middle and end. Occupies it’s own time and space different from all the other scenes. Can move the plot forward. Have it’s own event. Each character wants something specific. It, along with all the other scenes, makes up the play.
To call scenes the units of work helps define the one thing leads to the next. Or, step by step.
When you are in that scene – that situation – you have to be fully there and nowhere else.
Within a scene there are beats. Beats – as described by Stanislavsky – are the next size of the play that can be worked on. The next smaller piece that can be dealt with. There may only be one beat governing the whole scene, or with a transition going into another beat. Characters talking about the same topic, in similar tones, same time and space.
Then, there are lines, individual words and punctuation that are smaller and smaller parts to be looked at. All of this makes up a scene and all the scenes make up the screenplay.
It’s like building a house, one does it in parts.
In episodic television what happens in one scene does not necessarily make sense in relation to previous scenes. Learn too play the truth of each scene in television and try not to get diverted by trying to follow an arc.
Episodic television really proves that the scene is the unit of work.