Showing posts from May, 2009
Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing” Aristotle

Funny quote

If someone had told me years ago that sharing a sense of humour was so vital to partnerships, I could have avoided a lot of sex!

Kate Beckinsale

Film studios ramping up remakes

The impressive opening of "Fast & Furious" during the weekend not only proves there's gas in that franchise, it also gives fuel to Hollywood's obsession with movies based on, well, other movies.

Studios have been remaking movies pretty much since they began making them, but during the past year and particularly the past few months, the remake machine has gone into overdrive.

The 1980s have turned into a full-fledged garage sale of titles. "Romancing the Stone," "Footloose," "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "Dune," "The Karate Kid," "Red Dawn," "RoboCop," "The Big Chill," "Arthur," "Ghostbusters" and "The NeverEnding Story" are but a few of the titles from that decade being developed around town.

The trend has broadened to include lesser-known properties from other media whose full value was thought to have been realized -- and, in some cases forgotten -- long ag…

Lance Henriksen and CYBER HUNT

According to my producer Jerry (producer on Cyber Hunt) actor Lance Henriksen, (seen in Alien, The terminator, color of night, the quick and the dead, Millenium, the xfiles) is currently in talks to play a part in this exciting science fiction movie currently in pre-production.
As a reminder, i'm of course, one of the screenwriters behind this upcoming SF film!

Chapter 22Title Page of TV MoviesIn the TV movie formats it is customary to place the title of the script, the show and its episode on the first page at the top.Lettering can be either uppercase or mixed case.Place the title(s) in quotation marks.Center the text on the line.Fade In: follows the act title.The following is an example of a MOW title page: "A Day In The Life"



Also, the end of each act is signaled with the FADE OUT: notation as well as the end of act notation.FADE OUT.


=======FORCED PAGE BREAK==================


Software Tip:
When using script writing software you should always place a forced page break between acts. In other words, each act starts at the top of a new page.Writing Tip:
Do not number the scenes. That's the job of the production office.The Rul…
Chapter 21Other Script FormatsSo far we've mostly discussed submission or spec screenplays. The same elements used in a screenplay are used in several other script formats. Only measurements and format vary here and there.MOW - Movies of the WeekDTV - Direct TV MovieHour Episodic TV ShowThese formats are almost identical as the format of the spec screenplay. However, these scripts are broken into ACTS that are delineated within the body of the script. An act covers that part of the story that takes place between the commercials. Hence, an ACT BREAK is a commercial break.When a MOW Act begins, note it this way:ACT ONEWhen an Act ends, note it this way:END OF ACT ONEMOW or DTV scripts usually have 7 acts. When a MOW ends, note it this way:THE ENDA MOW will also have a (roughly) three- to eight-minute "teaser" that begins the story, noted this way:TEASERA Teaser is not usually noted with END OF TEASER. Rather, the scene simply ends and a new page begins where Act One starts…
Chapter 20HeaderAnother element of the production draft is the HEADER. A header occupies the same line as the page number, which is on the right and .5" from the top. Header information is printed on every script page. Information contained in the header includes the date of the revision and the color of the page. The header of the production draft of a script might look like this:REVISED April 30, 2001 BLUE 1.
REVISED April 30, 2001 BLUE will print at the top of every single revised page, unless you tell your scriptwriting program to omit this information on the first page. On the first page of a production draft, however, you should include your header, if you have one. The page number will, of course, change.Writing Tip:
Don't worry about what color of paper to use for subsequent changes to the same scene. If your still writing the revisions once the script is in production, they'll tell you what to use. This is determine…
Chapter 19Locking Your Script PagesOnce the script is "published" and handed out to the department heads and talent in preparation for production, the pages must be LOCKED so that any changes made after this time are easily tracked.If any changes are made to the script after circulation, only the REVISED PAGES will be printed and distributed. The REVISED PAGES must be easily incorporated into the script without displacing or rearranging the original pages.All of our script writing software is designed to break revised pages according to the rules listed above, and they are capable of "locking the pages" before revisions are made. Once you lock a script, if you add more material to a page than will fit on that page, the program will generate what's called an "A" page and the subsequent writing will be a "B" page, i.e. Page 110A or Page 110B.Locking Your ScenesIn a published script, scene numbers must also remain the same. In other words, if a…
Chapter 18Production DraftsYou've sold your script, and lo and behold, you're still the writer of the next phase! Time for Production drafts and revisions (a.k.a. Production Rewrite). All script formatting software available at The Writers Store are terrific at generating locked scripts (meaning the pages are finalized), A & B pages, numbered scenes and other specifics of the production draft.One of the ways production drafts differ from spec scripts is NUMBERED SCENES. Your script-formatting program can do this automatically. It numbers the SCENE HEADINGS with numbers to the left and right of the scene heading. The purpose of scene numbers is to aid the work of the Assistant Director and Producer in their efforts of breaking down the scenes for scheduling, and budgeting the script for production. REVISED April 30, 2001 BLUE 1.



Chapter 17Title PageThe 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 possibleTwo lines below that, centered on the line - Written byTwo lines below that, centered on the line - Your Name (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

Copyright © 2001 by Fatty Turner Fatty Turner
Registered, WGAw 1234 Lake St.
Anytown, CA 12345
Chapter 16Titles or Opening CreditsIn some scripts you read, you'll see this notation:BEGIN TITLES or BEGIN OPENING TITLES followed by END TITLES or OVER OPENING CREDITS followed by END OPENING CREDITS. An example:FADE IN:


Sailboats, yachts, and cabin cruisers all bob up and down in the warm blue



as hundreds of young, perfect bodies of college age kids frolic during spring
Writing Tip:
Don't bother putting in Beginning and Ending titles. It is not usually done in a spec script, and you can't predict where the producer and director will want to insert the titles, the sequence of footage shot with the opening credits rolling over it. Don't give yourself the extra work.Superimpose or TitleWhen the notation SUPERIMPOSE or TITLE OVER is used, text or an image is placed on top of the film footage. Most of the time, it contains information the director thinks the audience needs to know... like the p…
Chapter 15IntercutsOccasionally 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.


Lenny gets up to cross to the fridge to get a beer. He looks out his window and
catches a glimpse of Sherri across the courtyard. He freezes, watching her.


Sherri sits on the bed and unbuttons her double-breasted suit jacket.

Lenny moves closer to the window for a better vantage point.

Sherri stands, hopping …
Chapter 14A Series of ShotsA 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).A MATTER OF STYLESome writers will incorporate a series of shots into a script without noting it as such. This generally contributes to a smoother flow of the action. The action lines might be short, descriptive sentences on separate lines.The Piazza de Palma is packed with Saturday shoppers.

A LOUD SHOT rings out.

Pigeons take flight, WINGS FLUTTERING EN MASSE.

Heads turn in the direction of ANOTHER GUNSHOT.

A frightened child drops his ice cream cone and CRIES.

A woman SCREAMS.
Another style for writing t…
Chapter 13AbbreviationsThe film industry uses several abbreviations as shortcuts in scripts. It's up to you whether you use these abbreviations or not. Some readers find them distracting, while others prefer the shorthand. We've already discussed several -- O.S., O.C., V.O. -- which are specific to scripts. Here are some others.b.g. = backgroundb.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 imageCGI 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. = foregroundf.g. is used in action the same as b.g., except the action takes place in the foreground.SFX = sound effectsSFX tells the sound people an effect is needed.SFX: The BLAST of a train whistle
SPFX = special effectsSPFX announces that a sp…
Chapter 12Page BreakingSoftware Tip:
If you still need convincing that script writing software is a useful tool for a screenwriter, page breaking will clinch it for you: If you've followed the program's simple directions while writing your script, then all of the following rules will automatically, dare we say magically?, self-execute right in front of your eyes, while you are writing. The software willNever 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 ag…
Chapter 11ShotsThe 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:ANGLE ON --EXTREME CLOSE UP --PAN TO --FRANKIE'S POV --REVERSE ANGLE --Writing Tip:
As the writer, for reasons already mentioned you 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 …
Chapter 10TransitionWe 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:CUT TO:DISSOLVE TO:SMASH CUT:QUICK CUT:FADE TO:FADE OUT (never at the end of the script)Writing Tip:
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 skil…
Chapter 9ExtensionO.S. - Off-ScreenV.O. - Voice OverAn 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 long
T-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

Twenty minutes.
Some writers use O.C. (off camera) in place of O.S. The "beat" used above simply denotes that Frankie pauses (perhaps fo…
Chapter 8ParentheticalParentheticals are left indented at 3.0" and the right margin is 3.5" although that is a bit flexible. As seen in our examples, a Parenthetical remark is NOT centered under the character name.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, Parentheticals are generally disfavored, because they give direction to an actor that may not be appropriate once on the set. The slang term for them is "wrylies" as in: FRANKIE
Good mornin', Bluebird.

What? What time is it?

(getting out of bed)
Chapter 7DialogueThe 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. During a conversation between characters. When a character talks out loud to himself... even be when a character is off-screen and only a voice is heard.Writing Tip:
Great dialogue is a window into the soul of your character. It sounds real... It's conversational. The audience feels like a fly on the wall, hearing natural interplay between characters. Great dialogue may use common language but express great passion, and even become a catch phrase in popular culture, as the line from Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry Callahan "Go ahead. Make my day."It's not a bad idea to read your dialogue aloud to see how it really sounds. If you have a difficult time reading a line, it may not be good dialogue. You&…
Chapter 6Character NameThe 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). Sometimes, you might have COP #1 and then COP #2 speaking. It is okay to identify the speaking parts like this, but actors will like you more if you personalize their part with a name. Try to be consistent.Software Tip:
When you use script writing software the use of long, difficult to type character names is a breeze. The programs automatically learn and keep track of the CHARACTER NAMES you use, allowing for consistency and ease. No need fear those JACQUELINEs and DR. FRANKENSTEINs; two quick keystrokes are all you will need to make them appear on the screen.Script writing software will also insert the correct spacing from the previous…
Chapter 5ActionThe Rules:
Action runs from left to right margin, the full width of the text on the page, the same as the Scene Heading. Be sure to use the word wrap function of your script writing software, to make editing and rewrites easy. 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. Software Tip:
Script writing software intuitively formats the spacing and text between different paragraph styles for you as you type. All you worry about is your story!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.Writing Tip:
Every moment in a screenplay takes place NOW. Use the active voice (a window slams shut) not the passive voice (a window is slammed shut).Always write in PRESENT TIME, not the past. (There are rare exceptions to this; for example, John Milius' The Wind and the Lio…
Chapter 4Script ElementsThese are the unique margin, case, and position attributes that give feature film script text the format and consistency expected by all participants. Once you are accustomed to them you'll be able to tell your story the way an industry reader is accustomed to seeing it. The elements for a script are:Scene HeadingActionCharacter NameDialogueParentheticalExtensionsTransitionShotScene HeadingWriting Tip:
Scene Heading are aligned flush left (which we learned is about 1.5" from the edge of the paper) and are rarely long enough to reach the page margin.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. Are we indoors (INT.) or outdoors (EXT.)? Next name the location: BEDROOM, LIVING ROOM, at the BASEBALL FIELD, inside a CAR? And lastly it might include the time of day - NIGH…
Chapter 3Spec Screenplay Page PropertiesThe Rules:
Screenplays are traditionally written on 8 1/2" x 11" white 3-hole punched paper. A page number appears in the upper right hand corner (in the header). No page number is printed on the first page. The type style used is the Courier 12 font. The top and bottom margins are between .5" and 1". The left margin is between 1.2" and 1.6". The right margin is between .5" and 1".The extra inch of white space on the left of a script page allows for binding with brads, yet still imparts a feeling of vertical balance of the text on the page.The Courier 12 font is used for timing purposes. One script page in Courier 12 roughly averages 1 minute of onscreen film time. Experienced readers can detect a long script by merely weighing the stack of paper in their hand. Writing Tip:
Script writing software is pre-programmed with all these rules right out of the box.Script LengthThe average feature screenplay, traditio…
Chapter 2Script StylesBelow is a listing of the most common script formats in use today. This document will be dealing with Feature Film/Television Movie of the Week which are very similar but the others are distinctly different. Their attributes complement the needs of production distinct to the medium, the working style of the actors, and production personnel:In this document:Screenplay / Feature FilmTelevision Movie of the WeekNot addressed:Stage Plays and MusicalsSitcoms (3-camera, 1-camera, tape and film)Soap Operas/Daytime TelevisionAudio/Visual Scripts/Dual ColumnMultimediaScriptwriters for any of the above formats will present their work in either of the two variants below depending on whether they are trying to sell their work or have sold it and are working in the production part of the process.Submission ScriptsAKA a Spec Script. This is a script written without being commissioned or bought, on the speculative hope that it will be sold. This overview will favor the philosop…


Chapter 1What Exactly Is a Script?A script is a document that outlines every aural, visual, behavioral, and lingual element required to tell a story. Why "outlines"? Because film is a highly collaborative medium and the director, cast, editor, and production crew will, based on your "outline", interpret your story their way when it is filmed. They may consult you, or they may not. Other writers may be brought in or you may be asked to re-write the entire thing. That's life, in the world of screenwriting. But because so many people are involved in the making of a film, a script must conform to standards that all involved parties understand and thus has a specific format or layout, margins, notation, and other conventions. This document is intended to overview the typical elements used screenplay writing.It is crucial to remember that film is a VISUAL medium. You don't tell your audience your story, you SHOW them. You must learn to write a screenplay VISUALLY…


I receive a lot of requests everyday, asking me advices on how to write a screenplay, i'm extremely busy right now, and i can't possibly answer every email i receive.
So, i have decided to copy and paste these useful articles on my blog. Please be aware that every screenwriter, even the top screenwriters in Hollywood, learn something new everyday and improve everyday!
Good luck on your writing!


have been script doctoring all the week-end