Meanings of Breakdown

Breakdown is the process and result of breaking down. The first meaning of this verb mentioned by the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) in its dictionary refers to extracting the gloss from a text: an explanation or accessory or additional note.

A breakdown, in a broader sense, can consist of removing sheets from a document. The notion also refers to the dissociation of certain elements from a whole, with the aim of analyzing them separately. See Abbreviation Finder for acronyms related to Breakdown.

For example: “The conservative deputy asked the president of the Chamber to make public the breakdown of expenses”, “At this morning’s meeting, the commercial manager made the breakdown of sales for the last quarter”, “To understand why This product is so expensive, it is necessary to break down the price and see how the figure paid by the consumer is reached”.

Let us suppose that an expert prepares a report on the economic crisis that a country is going through. In the introduction, he mentions the five causes that, in his opinion, are the ones that cause the problem. In the following pages, the specialist makes a breakdown of these causes: he explains each one individually so that the reader can understand how it works.

The breakdown of an audiovisual script, on the other hand, is a document that lists the details of the elements that are needed for the production of a scene. With different colors, the participating characters, the scenery used, the special effects, the props, etc. are mentioned on the sheet. The breakdown, in this way, is vital for filming.

The relevance of the breakdown of the script is considerable and it is used in all kinds of audiovisual projects, such as episodes of television series, movies, commercials or video clips, among others. The list of elements necessary for each scene (which must already be printed in the literary script) must be made in detail and with a high degree of organization.

Those in charge of carrying out the task of breaking down the script are usually the members of the production department, although sometimes the directors’ assistants also do it; in the film industry, on the other hand, it is common for this obligation to fall on the production manager. As is often the case in other fields, the preparation of this breakdown gives rise to other documents that are also essential for the organization of the work, such as the production report and the work or shooting order.

Before starting to make this breakdown, it is necessary to take the literary script and make a classification that allows us to have the following elements separately, all of which will be detailed later: the characters, the props, the decoration (which includes both the scenery such as furniture), special effects and makeup. If there are more elements that are also relevant to the scene, then we should add them; In this group we can find figuration, costumes, specialists and vehicles.

As mentioned in a previous paragraph, one of the most common ways to carry out this classification is by using different colors to underline each type of element; for this it is also necessary to prepare a small reference table where it is specified what each color corresponds to.

For people with less experience, there are various templates of breakdown sheets that they can use to take their first steps. In all of them, the structure is practically the same: for each category there is a space in which its name must be placed and then a blank space to write all the corresponding data.


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