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The format of a screenplay
The format of a screenplay
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Script format

  1. 1. Script Format
  2. 2. l Correct formatting of a script is essential. Production company’s studios, directors or producers will not read a script that is incorrectly formatted. l 12 Point, Courier font. l Use a formatting program to help you. l www.celtx.com
  3. 3. Title Page ‘Title of your Script’ An Original Screenplay By Your name
  4. 4. l Do not include artwork or “First Draft” or “Second Draft” on the front cover. l Professional film scripts should have one contact address in the bottom left-hand corner, with a phone number and email address where applicable. l The agent’s contact details (where applicable) belong in the bottom right-hand corner.
  5. 5. l The scene heading (slugline) Interior or Exterior, Location and Time. l The action area (description) Only what you see if you were watching the screen l The character name l The dialogue
  6. 6. FADE IN: INT. LABORATORY – MID-DAY
  7. 7. l To establish a more definite context, you would write: l INT. LABORATORY – WORKBENCH – MID-DAY.
  8. 8. SCENE DESCRIPTIONS l Description will make up the bulk of what is written in a script. l Define the world of the story. l Introduce the principal characters. l Character introduction needs no more than a single descriptive sentence.
  9. 9. l In all your descriptions cut out everything that does not further the story line. l Simplicity/Clarity/Visually captivating description.
  10. 10. l The description tells the story. l Good descriptive writing provides the basic elements of visualisation. l It provides the opportunity to captivate your reader.
  11. 11. Correct Format l Only a production script contains editing and camera directions (and scene numbers). l These should not be included in a submission script, only present the basic story. l How the story is interpreted on the screen is up to the director.
  12. 12. l A script contains no internal thought. l John walks slowly down the street, wondering why Carol did not return any of his calls. l How are John’s thoughts going to be shown to the audience.
  13. 13. l Motivation and reasons for characters' behaviour will be revealed through their actions, reactions and dialogue. l Visual description should contain only what you would SEE if you were watching the screen.
  14. 14. DIALOGUE l The final essential element of any screenplay is the dialogue. l Decide if each speech contributes to the story or is it merely ‘fill’.
  15. 15. l Try not to use more than 5-6 lines of dialogue at a time. l If a character has to give a long speech, break it up by inserting a suitable line of visual exposition.
  16. 16. l He turns and walks to the window. or l He takes a sip of his drink.
  17. 17. l This may be inconsequential, but assists readability and prevents the script appearing "top-heavy" with dialogue. l Remember, film is a visual medium. Only write the dialogue that is essential to the story or your characters’ nature.
  18. 18. If a pause is desired between two lines in dialogue, this is indicated by the words ‘beat’ or ‘pause’ in parenthesis, lined up with the left margin of the dialogue, as follows:
  19. 19. Sally Sure I'm mad at you. (BEAT) When will you learn to think of someone besides yourself? (PAUSE)
  20. 20. l (BEAT) and (PAUSE) are artistic directions: they appear within the dialogue.
  21. 21. l If Joe in the dining room is on camera, talking to Mary in the kitchen, whom we don’t see, the format is as follows: (O.S.), "Off Screen", as follows:
  22. 22. JOE Sally, can you bring the wine in? SALLY (O.C.) Red or White?
  23. 23. Flashbacks l INT. JOE’S HOUSE – CELLAR – NIGHT (FLASHBACK) l Remember, each flashback is a new scene, even if it takes place in the same location as the current action.
  24. 24. Inserts l This is a cutaway shot to get close on something small. Use this only when necessary. INT. OFFICE – DAY Joe opens his mail. Insert – A LETTER
  25. 25. SOUNDS l Important sounds can be capitalised. They hear a CRASH of glass in the other room. l Or, The SOUND OF BREAKING GLASS is heard.“ l Use this sparingly, however, as it can get tiresome if repeated for every sound effect throughout a long script.
  26. 26. l At the end of the script, l FADE OUT l is placed at the right hand margin, two spaces below the last line of visual exposition.
  27. 27. Finally… l Check your spelling and your grammar l Do not break sentences between pages. l Do not hyphenate words from one line to the next or number individual scenes.
  28. 28. l Do not use semicolons anywhere. l Only commas or full stops between sentences. l Do not capitalise any lines of dialogue.
  29. 29. Production Script l The production script will be the dialogue script with the inclusion of camera, lighting and sound information.
  30. 30. FADE IN: EXT. FRONT OF HOUSE. DAY. 1. Opening shot – CU – finger in door bell Foley of door bell ringing Lit with early morning natural light RICHARD JONES, 20 year old male stands in front of a shabby looking front door. His is of slight build, wearing glasses 2. LS from across the street behind Richard Large depth of field Roar of traffic noise
  31. 31. Camera Direction l Shot type – LS, MS, CU l Camera Movement l Focus techniques – DOF, Pull Focus etc
  32. 32. Lighting l Natural or artificial l Soft or Hard l Direction and angle l Shadows
  33. 33. Sound Design l Use of sound effects l Any particular music
  34. 34. l The production script is not page limited. l For a 5 minute film it will usually be around 10 to 15 pages
  35. 35. l Think about how your shots go together. l How can you help tell the story through your camera and lighting set-ups. l How can you use sound to enhance the mood of a scene.
  36. 36. Next Week l TV l Please sign up tutorials or e-mail scripts.

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