Film Schematic Research

The purpose of this post is to research what a schematic is, and how I can apply this information to characters and events within a film.

“A drawing showing all significant components, parts, or tasks (and their interconnections) of a circuit, device, flow, process, or project by means of standard symbols. Schematic diagrams for a project may also be used for preparing preliminary cost estimates”
Business Dictionary definition

Link below (for the above quotation):

Whilst researching schematics, I’ve found that they’re more commonly used within engineering to trouble shoot circuits; this explains their common wire-like structure. This highlighted to me that schematics could be fit for purpose and did not necessarily have a set form; I could focus on areas of the film that I felt were more relevant for understanding it’s basic break down of characters and events.

Below is an image of an engineering schematic:
Engenineering table.png

The above diagram shows how an engineering schematic has a very distinct structure illustrating a start (or several) an end, causation, and titles for each stage through out the circuit; all of which can be transferable locating events and characters in a narrative.

Link below(for above diagram and other info):

Phil Campbell Godfather Schematic

Below are some images of the film schematic in which Phil Campbell created to map the events within the Godfather.


The schematic in which Campbell created was for the purpose of transferring story elements to a game in which he was creating. From my research so far, I’ve found great difficulty in finding anything remotely similar or complex to this piece of work by the designer.

I decided to write my own break down of this structure (This can also be found in page one of my larger black sketch pad):

(From top to bottom)

1. First Row:
Three horizontal categories:
A. Corleone family and optional missing
B. Godfather mission spine
C. Friends, enemies, traitors, and optional missing

2. Second Row:
Multiple horizontal categories:
A. Individual characters
B. Act of film (eg Prologue)
C. Characters

3.Third Row:
Three categories, break down of scene
*List of character actions under character
*Title of scene

The above structure is essentially repeated throughout the stages of the schematic.

Additional notes:

  • Make notes of characters less significant actions aside points indicating the stage of the film
  • Continually note character’s names so as to not lose track
  • Indicate significant actions in boxes
  • Colour code characters in a consistent way/ colour code types of events
  • Use symbols to indicate stages of character’s behaviour/ action e.g. lightening for violence, hearts for romance
  • Don’t be afraid to place boxes in strange places if events are important
  • Boxes placed directly on characters path indicates what they are doing/where they are

Below is the link to Phil Campbell’s site and also the source to the images used:


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