Continuous to Intercut: Are you buying this?

Clay201

Member
I'm writing a spec script and I could use some advice on my headers. I'm doing the best I can with lessons from books and advice from the internet, but I still feel like I'm wandering around in the dark. Below, I've provided a Cliff's Notes version of the results. Is it coherent? Does it flow? What about the part where she scratches her head. Am I putting that in the right place? Your advice and input would be appreciated.

I want to begin with a shot of a car sitting in a parking lot, then cut to an interior shot of the guy sitting in the driver's seat. He makes a phone call to another character and we cut to her answering. Then we cut back to him for his line of dialogue. After that, it's back to her again for one last line of dialogue and her hanging up the phone. Finally, we cut back to him for a reaction shot.

EXT.PARKING LOT - NIGHT
A car idles.

INT.CAR - CONTINUOUS
MAN sits behind wheel of car. He picks up his phone.

INT. APARTMENT - NIGHT
WOMAN sits on couch, watches TV. Her phone rings and she answers

INTERCUT -- PHONE CONVERSATION

WOMAN
Dialogue 1 dialogue 1 dialogue 1.

MAN
Dialogue 2 dialogue 2 dialogue 2.


She scratches her head


WOMAN
Dialogue dialogue 3 dialogue 3.

Woman ends the call.


Man reacts silently, puts his phone down.
 
Last edited:
Personally, I'd remove the second header. I'd go with something along the lines of:

EXT.PARKING LOT - NIGHT

A car idles. MAN sits behind the wheel. He picks up his phone.


'She scratches her head' really ought to be 'Woman scratches her head'.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Welcome to indietalk.

Yes, it's coherent. Yes it flows. Yes, you put her action in the right place.
I've never understood the need to use "CONTINUOUS". Seems unnecessary
to me. "NIGHT" does its job quite well.

I want to begin with a shot of a car sitting in a parking lot, then cut to an interior shot of the guy sitting in the driver's seat. He makes a phone call to another character and we cut to her answering. Then we cut back to him for his line of dialogue. After that, it's back to her again for one last line of dialogue and her hanging up the phone. Finally, we cut back to him for a reaction shot.
I would caution a writer wanting to see specific shots and editing. I understand
that you "want" to see these things but it isn't the job of the screenplay.
But this example is just fine.
 

Clay201

Member
Vestigal Organ

Thanks for the responses. Guess I was closer than I thought.

I think I primarily included the two headers at the beginning (EXT.PARKING LOT and INT.CAR) because, in an earlier draft, I made it a point to mention that the car was alone in the parking lot or at least parked far away from the other cars. This necessitated, I felt, an establishing shot of the parking lot before switching to a shot of the character inside the car. I couldn't come up with a succinct way to phrase this, I wasn't absolutely sure it was necessary to tell the story, and I just wanted to make the whole thing as lean as possible, so I cut the line. However, I left the scene header. I'm not sure why.

But yeah. It's a vestigal organ. I'm either going to give it a function or remove it.

Thanks again.
 

linearNORTH

Member
Honestly, I really wouldn't get hung up on things like that. It looks like you're on you're first draft and my advice if you are, is to just blast through it, try not to stop. You can sort all those details out with your next draft - or even when you start storyboarding.

Look at the way this screenplay is written for Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise (sorry, couldnt work out how to post a pic):

http://imgur.com/gallery/hRgzKu2/new

It doesn't even have names! I mean, that probably isn't the way it was actually written but maybe it was... You can see what I mean though...

The hardest part about writing a screenplay is finishing it. They say writing is re-writing so I think you just just plough through your script - if you get to another part where you aren't sure how to lay it out, just do it however it comes naturally and you can sort it out later!
 
Typically, you set up the first two scenes then use INTERCUT as a transition.
Code:
EXT. PARKING LOT - NIGHT
A car idles.

INT. CAR - NIGHT
MAN sits behind wheel of car. He picks up his phone.

                                           INTERCUT WITH:

INT. APARTMENT - NIGHT
WOMAN sits on couch, watches TV. Her phone rings and 
she answers

                        WOMAN
    Dialogue 1 dialogue 1 dialogue 1.

                        MAN
    Dialogue 2 dialogue 2 dialogue 2.

She scratches her head

                        WOMAN
    Dialogue dialogue 3 dialogue 3.

Woman ends the call.

END INTERCUT:

INT. CAR - NIGHT
Man reacts silently, puts his phone down.
Some writers will simply start into the next scene without ending the intercut. More recent practice is to include an "END" especially if the intercut is longer than a page. This is the format that the Nicholl competition normally recommends.

It would have been okay to write:
Code:
EXT. PARKING LOT - NIGHT
A car idles.

MAN sits behind wheel of car. He picks up his phone.
...
Since in the END INTERCUT: we shift to the car's interior.
 
Last edited:

Top