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Film 210: Formatting
4 min read

Film 210: Formatting

Week 1, part 2

YouTube version| Audio Version | YouTube version (louder)

Writing Program

Your scriptwriting program will cover many of the formatting issues. Have you picked yours? And are you comfortable with it?

Script formating

This is a page from The Avengers and a sample of proper script format.
1 page = 1 minute of screen time.

An example of a script page.

Full Avengers script (PDF) for viewing

Bonus Material: The Origins and Formatting of Modern Screenplays, from Filmmaker IQ

Elements of a Screenplay

There four major elements of a script are: Scene headings (or slug lines), narrative descriptions, dialogue, and the title page.

Scene Headings (or Sluglines)

Used whenever introducing a new location or a new time. Composed of:

  • Camera location: INT. or EXT.
  • Scene location: CHUCK’S BEDROOM
  • Time of Day: DAY or NIGHT
INT. CHUCK’S BEDROOM - DAY
Example of a Scene Heading

Special Notations for dream sequences:

  • SARAH’S DREAM
  • INT. HOUSE - DAY - SARAH’S DREAM
  • INT. HOUSE - DAY (SARAH’S DREAM)

Special Notation for flashbacks:

  • EXT. BUDAPEST - DAY (5 YEARS AGO)

Other Special Sluglines

French scenes (Secondary Sluglines)

Use these when focusing on several smaller locations in a large location.

For example in Casablanca, there is INT. RICK’S CAFE, but inside of it there is AT THE BAR or GAMING ROOM or RICK’S TABLE.

French scene example.

Notice that you don’t need to add interior or time.

If you don’t have an opening master slug-line (INT. RICK'S CAFE - DAY), then you need to add it first before transitioning to the French scenes.

You can also use it to focus on characters:

French scene using characters.

More info is available in your book.

Inserts

INSERTs are similar to French Scenes:

Example of an insert.

Computer Screens

This is a variation of the INSERT.

The typed words are indented like dialogue and in quotations marks.

Example of a computer screen.

A more readable style could be:

Another example of a computer screen.

You can also add location slug lines in here as well.

You can find more in the book.

Narrative Descriptions

  • Contains actions, settings, characters, sounds, and transitions.
  • Write only what you can see and hear. No thoughts, smells, backstories, etc.
  • Written active voice, present tense — this is IMPORTANT!
  • Characters are UPPER CASE on first introduction, then in normal Capitalization afterwards.
  • Brevity - short descriptions and only a few lines of action per paragraph. White space is important. 1 page = 1 minute of screen time.
  • Capitalize important SOUNDS, IMPORTANT and UNIQUE MOMENTS. But don’t abuse. Do not capitalize props.
  • No camera directions.
  • No transitions, except "FADE OUT." at the very of the script on the right hand side.

Example of Telephone Conversation

Example of telephone conversation.

At the end of conversation, you will return to one of their scenes, so treat it like as such and use a SLUGLINE.

For example:

Example of phone conversation ending.

Example of Montage

Example of montage.

Dialogue

Three main parts:

  • Character Cues - ALL CAPS.
  • If a character is off screen but in the scene, use (O.S.) and if they aren't in the scene use (V.O.).
MORGAN (V.O.)
Example of (V.O.)
  • Parentheticals: Try not to use, unless if absolutely necessary. Adding Wrylies (e.g. sarcastically, angrily) is discouraged and most actors and directors will ignore your directions.
  • Dialogue. Treat it like an action and keep it short. Be sure to write clearly, not like a comic book, or forced accents.
Example of dialogue.

Cover Page

  • Most writing programs will do the work for you.
  • Title is CAPITALIZED.
  • Name in a bottom corner (often right)
  • No DRAFT designations.

THE END

At the end of your script, you need to let the reader know there are no more pages. You have three choices:

  1. Right aligned (like a transition) - FADE OUT.
  2. Right aligned - FADE TO BLACK.
  3. Centered - THE END.

Make sure it is written correctly on your assignment.

A few Last (but important) Rules:

In this class, always show the story unfolding:

  • Never direct it.
  • Never write “we see” or camera directions (“the camera pans to…”)
  • Keep us in the fictional space of the story.

Assignment

Write a 2-3 page scene that uses proper formatting (respect those page counts). The scene must include:

  • One use of montage
  • One telephone conversation

Marking Criteria:

  • Written in active, present tense.
  • Proper screenplay format (including  sluglines; parenthesis, ALL CAPS on introduction of character)
  • Includes a title page that uses proper format.
  • Only 5 errors allowed on each page.

Due: Sunday Sept. 6 at midnight (Saskatchewan time).


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