1.1 Movie Scriptwriting Format and Method

1.1.1 Format

A movie is divided into scenes, which are a change in place or time.

Scenes are made up of a TITLE, and a body that is divided into Actions and Dialogue.

A scene may be shot with a single or several shots.

Scene Titles

Scenes are written in uppercase letters.

Unlike theater, scenes are not named "Acts" nor numbered, since they are usually shot out of order.

Numbering the pages is a must, however.

To name a scene, it is crucial to indicate the location and time.

Location tells the crew where to shoot and which scenes have the same location in common.

We also specify interiors and exteriors by INT and EXT. If the scene transisions between interiors and exteriors of a location we can write INT/EXT.

Time tells the production designer and cinematographer about the feeling and look of the scene.

However, unless it is necessary, just specify "Day" or "Night", since the lighting will differ for an early morning, noon or evening, as an example.

Thus, being too specific means extra and specific working hours for the crew for no valid reason.

Actions

Actions are what we are currently seeing.

They are written in present tense only and not indented. Italics may be used for actions also.

Usually, a new paragraph denotes a new shot. But this may interfere with the Director's view.

My personal recommendation is: unless you're going to be the Director, don't worry about making a new paragraph for each shot. Instead, you can make a new paragraph for idea changes, new subjects introductions or actions for easier understanding.

In addition, since we cannot see a character's inner feelings, we don't write about them. Instead, his/her facial expressions is the thing that we can describe.

So how do we show that a person is lying? We may rely on body language, talk inconsistency, or other previous or upcoming scenes.

Dialogues

Dialogues are the character talks, whether said or not, that we are hearing. They are indented.

Character names are totally written in uppercase letters throughout the body, and are centerd in dialogue.

Example on format

INT/EXT COURT ENTRANCE HALL, NOON
 
FREDDY, the mayor, is addressing the press and is surrounded by some guards.
 
 FREDDY
 
         Yeah we discussed the case. The Project will not stop for any reason. There’s no reason          to worry, we’ll get it done.
 

Suddenly we are walking with GINA from behind with CLAIRE, her attorney, from inside towards the entrance hall.

The media are shouting “Sir, Sir”. Photographers’ cameras flash.

FREDDY glances towards GINA's direction of approach, and is met with her stern glare. He turns away; her look is intimidating.

1.1.2 Remarks about Common Mistakes

Don't write about additional visual details or props if they aren't really necessary to advance or explain the plot. Don't be specific on needless items that will only make the crew's life more miserable.

Never specify camera angles, shots or setups. This also includes scene transitions, like fade in, dissolve or cut to. These are the production designer, Director and Editor's jobs.

Movies are a highly visual medium. Make the viewers see the action and never try to make some character tell what happened.

Also don't make the characters repeat what we can see or even explain what we saw.

Since many people don't remember faces well, it is also not advisable to built on characters that have been introduced very briefly.

Maintain the sense of logic; that is, actions and dialogue must be really probable to be believed.

I have known some to include improbable or illogical actions inorder to try and shock the audience, but that's a weak and rather silly approach.

Everything is related to a cause and effect, including our existence, so study your causes and effects well.

Note that Font is preferably Courier or Courier New.

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