formatting

Unanswered Technical Questions

I suppose if I were to take an academic course on screenwriting, I might know the answers to these. Or, if I had read hundreds not dozens of scripts, I may, as well.

I thought on #scriptchat Sunday it might be fun to post these here and see if I can draw on the expertise of others to help the community with these questions on technical issues with the formatted script.

– Some scripts – as on the first page of the Ocean’s Eleven script – start with a single sentence in the middle of the page (“In any other town, they’d be bad guys.”) ¬†Why is this here? It sets the tone, I suppose, but just for the script reader. Maybe it is just there for fun?

– I thought I had noted from reading scripts that the introduction of a character is done in all-caps in the scene description. That is not the case in this script. Perhaps it’s only important to be consistent?

– There also seems to be inconsistency, to me anyway, about when props or small part characters are in ALL CAPS or not. What is the guideline?

– There seem to be many parentheticals in some scripts I read – this was something I tried but got dinged for in coverage. I don’t seem to know the rule of thumb here.

– Changing locations within a room or building – what is the best way to communicate this? I assume it’s not through continued formal INTs. Can this be done informally with left justified text?

– Similarly when action moves from inside the building to outside – how to write and format this transition.

– How about if one character is in the building and the other is outside, or each are in different rooms while speaking to each other – how do you communicate this? Or is this the director’s job to figure out who should be where?

– When do you write simply that a character is doing something and when do you include that the shot is focused on that action – say, checking a wallet and finding a slip of paper with key information

– What is the right way to communicate passage of time? I mean days, weeks, years, holidays, etc.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

April