When you DO use a Transition, the left margin is at 6.5" and a right margin of 1.0". Transitions are formatted in all caps and almost always follow an Action and precede Scene Headings.
- CUT TO:
- DISSOLVE TO:
- QUICK CUT:
- FADE TO:
- FADE OUT (never at the end of the script)
- EXTREME CLOSE UP --
- PAN TO --
- FRANKIE'S POV --
- REVERSE ANGLE --
I'll kill him! I mean it.
Take him out! Now! Do it!
ANGLE ON - A PRISON GUARD SHARP-SHOOTER
as he lines up the shot, finger poised on the trigger.
I want to talk to the Warden. NOW!
INSERT - RANSOM NOTE
- Never end a page with a Scene Heading. The ONLY time this is acceptable is if another Scene Heading or Shot follows. (An example would be an Establishing shot and then an interior scene heading.)
- Never start a page with a Transition.
- Automatically place Continued: notations when it breaks an Action paragraph or a Dialogue.
- Never end a page with a Character Name line. At least two lines of Dialogue if there are that many (including a Parenthetical, if used) must follow.
- Never end a page at a Parenthetical. Dialogue MUST follow.
- If you have Dialogue, a Parenthetical and then Dialogue again, break the page BEFORE the Parenthetical.
Dual Dialogue or Side-By-Side Dialogue
Frankie and Julie are in a heated argument.
Get out of my life! I can't Don't you yell at me! I'll leave
stand the sight of you any when I'm when I'm good and
more!! ready! Tough!!
The CROWD in the bleachers taunts the pitcher: "You stink!" "Rubber arm!"
"Ball!" "You throw like my sister!"
You stink! Rubber arm! Ball! You
Transitions you may be familiar with are:
The only time to use a Transition in a spec script is if it's integral to telling the story. For instance, you might use a TIME CUT: to indicate passage of time. More commonly, a DISSOLVE TO: indicates that time has passed. Or, you might need to use MATCH CUT: if you want to illustrate that there is some correlation between something we just saw and something in the new scene. The point is, unless you become quite skilled in screenwriting don't use these things unless absolutely necessary, because the director of the film will probably think of something different.
Most Transitions are already programmed into script writing programs, capitalized and lined up for those rare occasions when you can't resist to use one.
(Remember, the Cut To: will probably be left out in most spec scripts these days. What it indicates is a complete change of location.)
Shots are formatted like Scene Headings, flush left margin, all uppercase. Blank line before and after.
A SHOT tells the reader the focal point within a scene has changed. Here are some examples of shots: ANGLE ON --
We should be very judicious using a SHOT to redirect the reader's focus. Your "directing" runs the risk of interrupting the flow of your storytelling. If what you really want to do is direct films, do yourself a favor and DON'T do it in a script you're trying to sell... wait until it sells and try to negotiate a package deal with you on board as the director. This most often is a possibility after you've already had one of your screenplays filmed.
Once in a while, calling a shot is necessary. You want the reader to see something not obvious in the scene or you want to achieve a particular emotion or build to a climax. This device allows you to achieve this goal.
If you are describing a prison riot, with a prisoner holding a guard at knifepoint, and you want the audience to see a sharpshooter aiming at the prisoner, you might use a shot like this:
Another shot used from time to time is INSERT. INSERT is used solely as a direction - to focus on something integral to the scene, often something that the audience needs to read or what would otherwise be too small to be clearly seen in a full, wide scene.
A well-constructed action paragraph or a single line might achieve the same goal without distracting the reader. Be vigilant of the flow of the story, and try not to interrupt it.