“I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.” – Henry Luce

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The elements for a script are:

The elements for a script are:

1.      Scene Heading

2.      Action

3.      Character Name

4.      Dialogue

5.      Parenthetical

6.      Extensions

7.      Transition

8.      Shot


Scene Heading are aligned flush left is about 1.5" from the edge of the paper. The Scene Heading is written in ALL CAPS. Use a period after the INT. or EXT., a hyphen between the other elements of the Slugline.

The Scene Heading, sometimes called Slugline, tells the reader of the script where the scene takes place,

indoors (INT.) or outdoors (EXT.)

Name the location: BEDROOM, LIVING ROOM, at the BASEBALL FIELD,

And lastly it might include the time of day - NIGHT, DAY, DUSK, DAWN... information to "set the scene" in the reader's mind.

The Slugline can also include production information like CONTINUOUS ACTION, or ESTABLISHING SHOT or STOCK SHOT.

Here are examples of Scene Headings





The Rules:
Action runs from left to right margin, the full width of the text on the page. Text is single-spaced and in mixed case.

When you introduce a speaking character for the first time, you should put the name in all caps.

The ACTION or Description sets the scene, describes the setting, and allows you to introduce your characters and set the stage for your story.

Action is written in REAL TIME.


The Rules:
The CHARACTER NAME is formatted in uppercase letters and indented 3.5" from the left margin.

Before a character can speak, the writer inserts a CHARACTER NAME to let the reader know this character's dialogue follows.

A character name can be an actual name (JOHN) or description (FAT MAN) or an occupation (DOCTOR).



The Rules:
DIALOGUE margin is indented 2.5" from the left margin. A line of dialogue can be from 30 spaces to 35 spaces long, so the right margin is a bit more flexible, usually 2.0" to 2.5".

DIALOGUE rules apply when anyone on screen speaks.

Dual Dialogue
or Side-By-Side Dialogue

When two of your characters speak simultaneously, that's called dual dialogue or side by side dialogue. In the script we've been following, our characters might have this conversation:

Frankie and Julie are in a heated argument.                 FRANKIE                                     JULIE        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!!


Parentheticals are left indented at 3.0" and the right margin is 3.5" although that is a bit flexible.

A Parenthetical remark can be an attitude, verbal direction or action direction for the actor who is speaking the part.

Parentheticals should be short, to the point, descriptive, and only used when absolutely necessary.

These days, Parenthetical are generally disfavored, because they give direction to an actor that may not be appropriate once on the set.




Good mornin', luebird.



What?  What time is it?


(getting out of bed)

After six. You're gonna be late

again and I don't want to hear    it.


1.      O.S. - Off-Screen

2.      V.O. - Voice Over

An Extension is a technical note placed directly to the right of the Character name that denotes HOW the character's voice will be heard by the audience. An Off-Screen voice can be heard from a character out of the camera range, or from another room altogether.

Frankie pulls all the covers off of Julie. She sits up in bed, pulls on a longT-shirt, then swings her legs onto the floor and shuffles off to the bathroom.                                       



You're welcome.


Hey, how long you gonna be? I've   got a meeting and I need to   shower.


Twenty minutes.


We must begin with this remark: Nowadays, in Spec Scripts, transitions are frowned upon, a waste of a couple of lines you could better use for brilliant dialogue, and are only used when absolutely necessary.

The Rules:
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.

Transitions you may be familiar with are:

1.       CUT TO:

2.       DISSOLVE TO:

3.       SMASH CUT:

4.       QUICK CUT:

5.       FADE TO:

6.       FADE OUT (never at the end of the script)



The Rules:
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:



b.g. = background.  b.g. is used in an action paragraph.

Frankie sits on the bed tying his shoes. In the b.g., Julie takes money out of his wallet. She also pockets his car keys.

CGI = computer generated image.  CGI denotes action that cannot be filmed normally and will require the use of computers to generate the full imagery, as used in films like The Matrix.

CGI: His mouth begins to melt, then disappears entirely.

 f.g. = foreground. f.g. is used in action the same as b.g., except the action takes place in the foreground.


SFX = sound effects

SFX tells the sound people an effect is needed.

SFX: The BLAST of a train whistle SPFX = special effects

SPFX announces that a special effect is necessary (one that might not require the use of CGI).

SPFX: A beam of light illuminates Frankie's face. His features slowly melt likea wax figure. M.O.S. = without sound

The story goes that a German-born director (perhaps Josef von Sternberg, who discovered Marlene Dietrich) wanted to shoot a scene without sound and told the crew to shoot "mit out sound," a phrase which the crew found humorous and thus proliferated it. It is most commonly used to show impending impact of some kind.

M.O.S. Horses stampeding down Main Street. POV = point of view

The camera 'sees' the action from a specific character's position

JULIE'S POV - Frankie sits on the bed tying his shoes



A MONTAGE is a cinematic device used to show a series of scenes, all related and building to some conclusion.

The MONTAGE is formatted as a single shot, with the subsequent scenes action elements of the complete sequence.

 Although a French word, it was created by Russian director Sergei Eisenstein as  to elicit emotions on several levels.

 Most often it is used as a passage of time device. Think of a baby being born, then rolling over, then taking its first steps, and finally running through the sprinklers. For example:


A SERIES OF SHOTS is similar to a Montage, but it usually takes place in one location and concerns the same  action.  Think of the movie Earthquake...

SERIES OF SHOTS  A) Store windows start to rattle and shake. B) Hanging signs swing back and forth. C) Bricks and shards of glass begin to fall onto the sidewalks. D) People run for cover. A SERIES OF SHOTS is formatted as a SHOT.

Just like a Montage, the shot series are action paragraphs and may also be numbered 1) 2) 3).


Occasionally in a script, you might want to cut back and forth between two or more scenes. These scenes are occurring at the same time. Instead of repeating the Scene Heading for each scene over and over, an INTERCUT is used. This gives the reader the sense that the scene is moving rapidly back and forth between locations. There is a great sequence of intercuts in The Deer Hunter of shots of hunters out in the woods with a wedding going on simultaneously, at a different location. Here's another example:

INT. SHERRI'S APARTMENT - NIGHT Sherri starts disrobing in front of her open bedroom window. INT. LENNY'S APARTMENT - NIGHT Lenny gets up to cross to the fridge to get a beer. He looks out his window andcatches a glimpse of Sherri across the courtyard. He freezes, watching her. INTERCUT BETWEEN LENNY AND SHERRI Sherri sits on the bed and unbuttons her double-breasted suit jacket. Lenny moves closer to the window for a better vantage point.


The TITLE PAGE has specific information on it. Type it in the same font as your script, Courier 12. It should not be on special paper, no graphics - it should just contain only the following information:

Centered on the page, vertically and horizontally - The title of your script in bold type if possible

Two lines below that, centered on the line - Written by (author of novel or short story)…………………

Two lines below that, centered on the line - Name of Author (and co-writer, if any)

In the lower right hand corner your contact information (include agent or email address)

In the lower left-hand corner you can put Registered, WGA or a copyright notification.


  The Good, The Bad, The Thin                                    Written by                                   Fatty Turner  



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