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Film 210: Descriptions
4 min read

Film 210: Descriptions

Week 3

Weekly Updates:

Audio version

One-on-One meetings

Remember to sign-up for this week's meetings. I've opened up some new times for you on and may add some on Saturday. Let me know if this works.

When signing up, you should receive an email with the Zoom link. Check your spam or whatever account you used to sign in. This is how you will sign into the meeting.

As well, make sure that you are booking for CST time on Calendly (it automatically fills in the time based on your computer). You can switch the time zone changer on the dropdown below the calendar.

Marks

Marks are back. Remember, if you have questions or concerns, contact me.

(V.O.)

Don't overuse. It gets into a habit of overtelling

Feedback

Be sure to give specific examples, especially when you mention errors or corrections. This will make the difference between a half mark and a full in some cases.

As well, even if someone has commented on something you intended to say, please include yours. It helps writers know what an issue was, and it helps your individuals mark.

Channels on Slack

Make sure to share things on Slack in the right channel. Anything that isn't directly related to class, please place in the general discussion.

I've also added a #feedback-and-help channel for you to upload scripts for feedback before submission, or ask for help with writing software.

Writing Apps

Finally, I've added links to writing apps on the main page, so if you are having trouble with spelling and grammar, consider using those.


Descriptions

Audio Download

Use when you are introducing:

  • a person
  • a setting
  • an object

The more important the person or thing is to the story—or the scene—the more detailed your description needs to be.

Keep it concise. You want to use the least amount of words possible. The best description is one sentence. But, if need be, no more than 3-4 lines.

If 1 page equal 1 minute, then you want to be efficient with your words as possible.

How many lines take up a minute?

Character

Most characters need an introduction when they first appear in the script.

An example of character introductions.

Of course, we want to use ALL CAPS when they are first introduced. (Important to note: if there is a group and aren't important to the story, you do not capitalize them.)

More importantly want to describe their essence with a few vivid details to form a mental picture. For example:

  • TYCHO ROMANOV, 68, waddles like a deflated beanbag chair.
  • ELENA SAMBRIDGE, 34, a predator dressed in Giorgio Armani.

Names are important. First names and last names identify a complete identity.

Age is also important. “Sandy, mid-20s” is different from “Sandy, 94.”

Use words that describe the way they move, stand, present themselves.

Consider giving your characters a job, especially notable characters.

(Find more examples on page 82-84 of your textbook.)

Character Don'ts:

  • Avoid limiting physical characteristics.
  • Don’t use actor’s names.
  • Don’t compare them to other characters in books or movies.
  • Don’t identify the protagonist or villain.

Settings

At the introduction of new locations, tell us where it takes place.

Do not convey this in the slugline.

Add a short line of description, similar to how you would describe characters. Focus on capturing the essence of the place. Brevity is a strength.

Even in a place we might know, like the suburbs, can communicate tone, mood, and context.

For example: “Hometown, USA, where Mom, July 4th fireworks, and the annual pie-eating contest rank as the most important things in life” communicates a great deal.

Specifying the month can convey mood. New York in October is different than New York in July.

A story not set in the present needs more description, especially if it is dissimilar with modern culture.

1350. Northern Europe. The Black Plague claims a third of the population; gunpowder emerges, serfdom declines.

It often helps to assign a specific year, especially if it isn’t set in our time. It prepares a reader for the changes that are described.

If it’s set in an obscure location, briefly describe the scene so that a reader can capture your vision.

Only show details if it impacts the characters. A radical new political system isn’t vital to a character that’s lost in the desert.

Objects

When showing unique objects, it helps to describe them. However, the danger is not to over-describe an object.

Get the essence of what it is, explained in a sentence.

  • Focus on what it might look like in our world—a gun, a camera, a car.
  • Use character interaction to describe its purpose.
  • Sounds can also be useful.
“Gary grabs the Spectallis, a weaponized telescope that fits in the palm of his hand. He aims—WHOOSH— a laser shoots out, and Paul is vaporized into dust.

Remember

  • Always focus on the essence of what you are describing.
  • Don’t direct. The cast and crew will bring so much more to the project.

Week 3 Exercise: Descriptions

Write a 2-3 page script of any type that contains three main characters, two separate and unique locations, and one individual object.  All characters, locations, and objects must have a one-sentence description, as explained in the weekly lesson.

Marking Criteria

  • Proper screenplay format (including active, present tense; sluglines; character introductions).
  • One character must drive the action with a want, face an obstacle, take actions, deal with responses that lead to an outcome.
  • Proper spelling, punctuation, grammar.
  • Five mistakes are allowed in the whole script.
  • The proper page count of the assignment.

Feedback:

  • Keep an eye open for these details. If you notice them, help your fellow writers.
  • Also, review my notes on your scripts and notice what I comment on. Use this as a guide for your feedback and work.

Due: Sunday Sept. 20 at midnight ( Saskatchewan time ).

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