format OFF SCREEN and CON'T on same CHARACTER Line

Nobody is going to put a script down because it does or doesn't use CONT'D. It is commonly used if someone's dialogue is broken by action, but ultimately does not matter. Only clarity and consistency matters to a reader. You can get away with a lot of you focus on the work and not the "rules" from a textbook. Best of luck writing.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
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Proper screenplay format exists for a reason. That's really bad advice, to not follow rules. We are talking about discrepancies in the rules here. That does not mean abandon them. It means, let me figure out if A or B or both are appropriate.
 
For sure. But using CONT'D or not using it is not changing standard format. It is default in most programs, but if it's become acceptable to not use it, then my point was it's likely fine to pick one or the other, so long as you commit to that decision for the entire script.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
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Okay but the "'rules' from a textbook" as you say are important. A lot of us learned and still learn proper format that way. So let's be more clear with our advice so newbies don't throw all their books away and start sending post-it notes to Hollywood. :)
 
Consider that the HALLWAY and the BEDROOM may not actually be in the same building.
The presented sequence is not a CONTINUOS scene. The BEDROOM and the HALLWAY are two different scenes. The "MASTER HEADING" is generally an amatuer thing-- lose it. When you're Tarantino, you can pick it up again. But it's not for someone trying to break in.
For now, what you have is an INTERCUT, or possibly an INSERT. Write it that way. It gives the Producer a better feel for the scripts budgetary requirements.
And when you do use a Master Scene, confine it to a single space, e.g., THE WOODS, and then ANGLE ON/PINE TREE or ANGLE ON/BIG ROCK.
 
Excuse me? LOL. The MASTER SCENE LOCATION heading is generally an AMATEUR thing? Lose it? In this particular instance:

INT. HOUSE - NIGHT is the master scene location heading. Why on EARTH would the writer LOSE that? Gonna have to agree to DISAGREE on that.

As for the secondary location scene heading: BEDROOM

It's basically, incorrectly formatted. You should always have some description/action after the master scene location heading. It's best (for the reader) to make secondary location scene headings FLOW instead of placing them under the master location scene heading... Basically, what the writer's done here is ORPHAN the master scene location heading.

There's not a telephone conversation going on here or a zoom meeting... LOL. And? BOTH CHARACTERS are IN THE SAME HOUSE so WHY consider that the hallway and bedroom may not be in the same building? The way the writer wrote this, they most certainly ARE IN THE SAME BUILDING. Adam is in a bedroom and his father, Preston is right outside the bedroom door in the hallway. You do NOT INTERCUT a scene set up this way.

*EDIT: You can obviously use INTERCUT on anything you want to use it on but that doesn't make it RIGHT.
 
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Excuse me? LOL. The MASTER SCENE LOCATION heading is generally an AMATEUR thing? Lose it? In this particular instance:

INT. HOUSE - NIGHT is the master scene location heading. Why on EARTH would the writer LOSE that? Gonna have to agree to DISAGREE on that.

As for the secondary location scene heading: BEDROOM

It's basically, incorrectly formatted. You should always have some description/action after the master scene location heading. It's best (for the reader) to make secondary location scene headings FLOW instead of placing them under the master location scene heading... Basically, what the writer's done here is ORPHAN the master scene location heading.

There's not a telephone conversation going on here or a zoom meeting... LOL. And? BOTH CHARACTERS are IN THE SAME HOUSE so WHY consider that the hallway and bedroom may not be in the same building? The way the writer wrote this, they most certainly ARE IN THE SAME BUILDING. Adam is in a bedroom and his father, Preston is right outside the bedroom door in the hallway. You do NOT INTERCUT a scene set up this way.

*EDIT: You can obviously use INTERCUT on anything you want to use it on but that doesn't make it RIGHT.
You're excused-- and quite incorrect.
I'm a Professional Fix It Writer living and working in LA for over a decade. I get paid by Producers to reformat scripts into proper shape for production. Now I'm a Producer who hires other Writers.
The Industry has changed. You want to get work, learn to write for production.

The Hallway and the bedroom are two different scenes UNLESS the shot goes through the door and shows both locations in the same shot. The assumption that the Hallway and the Bedroom are actually in the same house is precarious at best (That's the amatuer part). Might be shot on two different soundstages. Or maybe the Director likes the Hallway in one building, and a bedroom somewhere else. Two people talking in different locations who are only on screen one at time are an INTERCUT. Writers should not impose limitations-- or confusion-- on thier scripts.
The correct use of the MASTER SCENE is as I stated above, and generally, it's a TV thing.
 
You're excused-- and quite incorrect.
I'm a Professional Fix It Writer living and working in LA for over a decade. I get paid by Producers to reformat scripts into proper shape for production. Now I'm a Producer who hires other Writers.
The Industry has changed. You want to get work, learn to write for production.

The Hallway and the bedroom are two different scenes UNLESS the shot goes through the door and shows both locations in the same shot. The assumption that the Hallway and the Bedroom are actually in the same house is precarious at best (That's the amatuer part). Might be shot on two different soundstages. Or maybe the Director likes the Hallway in one building, and a bedroom somewhere else. Two people talking in different locations who are only on screen one at time are an INTERCUT. Writers should not impose limitations-- or confusion-- on thier scripts.
The correct use of the MASTER SCENE is as I stated above, and generally, it's a TV thing.
Would it matter at all that this is a spec script vs a shooting script?
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
I get paid by Producers to reformat scripts into proper shape for production.
This tells me that a script written on spec is different than one in
proper shape for production.

Should writers make sure their script is in proper shape for production
before they submit it?
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
We are getting the perspective of a script fixer. It's great to have this perspective, and thanks! However if we all prep our scripts for production, you are out of a job. ;)

And writers like to write with the mindset of the writer not producer. Scripts may suffer if they have to wear an extra hat. Your job is to prep them for production, so when you look at them, they look broken, But in fact, they are two different animals.
 
You're excused-- and quite incorrect.
I'm a Professional Fix It Writer living and working in LA for over a decade. I get paid by Producers to reformat scripts into proper shape for production. Now I'm a Producer who hires other Writers.
The Industry has changed. You want to get work, learn to write for production.

The Hallway and the bedroom are two different scenes UNLESS the shot goes through the door and shows both locations in the same shot. The assumption that the Hallway and the Bedroom are actually in the same house is precarious at best (That's the amatuer part). Might be shot on two different soundstages. Or maybe the Director likes the Hallway in one building, and a bedroom somewhere else. Two people talking in different locations who are only on screen one at time are an INTERCUT. Writers should not impose limitations-- or confusion-- on thier scripts.
The correct use of the MASTER SCENE is as I stated above, and generally, it's a TV thing.
Okay... I'm going to buckle in for the ride. FIrst off, @geckopelli, I AM NOT INCORRECT. I too am a Professional writer and working in LA for over two decades. LOL. And? I'm also a Professional script fixer and guess what? I've never ONCE been hired to reformat a spec script into proper shape for production and I've worked on a HELL OF A LOT OF SCREENPLAYS that went into production.

YOU SAY: You get paid by Producers to REFORMAT SCRIPTS into proper shape for production.

By your very own description, you are telling US that you write SHOOTING SCRIPTS i.e., you take someone's (presumably) spec script that's going into production and rewrite it into a shooting script.

So what?

YOU SAY: Now I'm a Produer who hires other Writers.

What does THAT mean EXACTLY? Do you hire them to do what YOU DO? Reformat scripts into proper shape for production? Or? Do you hire them because they showed some promise with some of their writing and now you want them to fix a scene here or there?

When you say HIRE, I'm not specifically taking that to MEAN that YOU, as a NOW PRODUCER, bought their spec because if you did? Why hire them afterward when YOU reformat scripts into proper shape for production? Or do you NOW, as a PRODUCER train them to do what you are now doing for producers?

Your post never once spoke about a spec script... That's what we're talking about here. A SPEC. Not a script that needs to be reformatted into proper shape for production.

Specs are meant to be READ. If you're unaware of that? Or your production company is doing it differently? You may want to RETHINK what you're doing and where is the Director in all this when you're sitting down REFORMATTING SCRIPTS INTO PROPER SHAPE FOR PRODUCTION? Why aren't they involved? What do THEY say when you hand over the shooting script to THEM based on notes from the producer that hired you? Are you telling us that NOW the director has to sit down and go through all the reformatting YOU DID FOR SOME PRODUCER and reshape it into their vision? Because if you're not telling us that? You're leaving a very big part of the equation OUT of this process.

Good specs get sold and when they go into production? Somebody writes the shooting script i.e., REFORMATS IT INTO PROPER SHAPE FOR PRODUCTION. What you say YOU do.

Just so I could be on the same page with you? I looked up the word, PRECARIOUS even though I'm pretty sure I understand it correctly. Here's the definition:

pre·car·i·ous (prĭ-kâr′ē-əs)
adj.
1. Dangerously lacking in security or stability: a precarious posture; precarious footing on the ladder.
2. Subject to chance or unknown conditions: "His kingdom was still precarious; the Danes far from subdued" (Christopher Brooke).
3. Based on uncertain, unwarranted, or unproved premises: a precarious solution to a difficult problem.


So let's TRANSCRIBE what you said above so EVERYONE is NOW on the same page:

You're basically saying one or ALL of these sentences below, correct?

--The assumption that the Hallway and the Bedroom are actually in the same house is dangerously lacking in security or stability at best (That's the amatuer part).

--The assumption that the Hallway and the Bedroom are actually in the same house is subject to chance or unknown conditions at best (That's the amatuer part).

--The assumption that the Hallway and the Bedroom are actually in the same house is based on uncertain, unwarranted, or unproved premises at best (That's the amatuer part).

Well, no offense but I think it's VERY CLEAR that the writer intends both the bedroom and hallway to be in the same master location. Why? Because he actually WROTE IT THAT WAY. LOL.

Sure... For purposes of SHOOTING THIS AS A FILM? This particular scene would be broken down into two scenes but for purposes of writing a spec? It's just ONE scene.

You're mixing apples and oranges here... The writer has not sold this piece of writing. He's writing it on SPECULATION so at this point of the writing? There is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON for anyone to reformat what he's written into proper shape for PRODUCTION. Scripts for production and spec scripts are TWO EXTREMELY DIFFERENT BEASTS but you being a Producer, ALREADY KNOW THAT, correct?

And? I want to apologize for derailing the OPs original question i.e., how to use (O.S.) and (CONT'D) together in a script. LOL. I will revisit that very quickly as there are multitiudes of opinions and answers here in the thread.

If you WANT to LEAVE IT then you'd normally write it like this:

PRESTON (O.S.) (CONT'D)
...can I come in?

I didn't mention that in the beginning because as I stated earlier in the thread? (CONT'D) is no longer used when writing spec scripts and hasn't been used in decades. I don't use it. Most of the Professional writers I know don't use it. Of the ones that do? They couldn't even BEGIN to tell you how to turn (CONT'D)s off in either Final Draft or Movie Magic Screenwriter. They just use the program RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX.

Having said that? I will ARGUE against leaving it in and ON in your screenwriting app for a very simple reason... There's NO REASON NOT TO. You can read all the replies here until you're blue in the face telling you that it's okay to LEAVE IT ON or it's not going to make or break your spec if you include it and ON and ON and ON and ON.

But? And remember... This is fucking Hollywood we are talking about and if we're NOT? Then I apologize AGAIN because I'm talking about Hollywood. What if just one of the professional readers that reads your script doesn't like seeing (CONT'D) over and over and over? What if they are so fucking BLIND to seeing (CONT'D) over and over and over again in your spec that they can't quite put their finger on WHY the read was difficult for them? In other words? All I'm saying is WHY GIVE A PROFESSIONAL READER ANY FUCKING REASON to PASS ON YOUR SCRIPT?

For those of you who've said, "IT DOESN'T MATTER." Where do you get that from? What's your personal experience with Professional readers? As I've said, I know 7 of them and I've asked them all what their PET PEEVES are. Why? for Intel. I want to know GOING INTO my submission process that I've taken care of every possible loose end than I can. I do NOT want something left in my spec that isn't going to make or break it. LOL. To me? That statement is LUDICROUS.

Selling a spec is like winning the fucking lottery.

To me? Leaving (CONT'D)s IN a spec would be no different than misspelling a word here or there or using the wrong word. Most professional spec scripts I've read and I've read a LOT -- hundreds -- are never perfect. They have typos. They have formatting problems. You name it. I see it.

WHY DO THAT when with just a little bit of elbow grease, you can ELIMINATE IT COMPLETELY? How can that NOT be what we, as spec screenwriters want to achieve? Everyone seems to have this IDEA that a few problems here and there AIN'T gonna MATTER. LOL. You might be right but WHY TAKE THAT CHANCE when you can ELIMINATE ALL THE PROBLEMS before submitting it?

I've never understood that mindset AT ALL and I never will.

Which is why I never use (CONT'D)s.

Okay... I'm STILL BUCKLED IN and ready for MORE @geckopelli. Let ME have it.
 
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If you WANT to LEAVE IT then you'd normally write it like this:

PRESTON (O.S.) (CONT'D)
...can I come in?
I know others have chimed in, but this seems right to me. Maybe a final answer for the OP. Thank you, Unknown.

As to @geckopelli 's arguments, they seem to miss the point... the OP wants them to be in the same house. Yes, they may eventually be filmed in separate locations, but they are meant to be the same set, both contained in INT. HOUSE. The OP was asking the proper format for indicating how the dialog would be annotated to indicate that. As a producer myself, I would want everyone on the crew to know that the HALLWAY location we shot last week, is -- storywise -- to be located outside the BEDROOM we are shooting today. That affects cast call, costuming, props, lighting, etc. So, anything that can be done to insure everyone understands these are part of the same master scene, like "INT. HOUSE/HALLWAY" and "INT. HOUSE/BEDROOM" would keep things clear in a spec or a shooting script.
 
This tells me that a script written on spec is different than one in
proper shape for production.

Should writers make sure their script is in proper shape for production
before they submit it?
Yes and no. It's not so much about being production ready as being producible within the desired budget range.
For submissions, you don't have to write a shooting script, but you do need to realize a successful script will be read or partially read by many people, so it must be presented as straightforward as possible. When I hand a slasher script to my Makeup Person and ask for an estimate on makeup cost, she doesn't read the entire script, just the scenes with Makeup tags. Some Actors, F/X people-- most the people who work with the script never actually read the whole thing, so CON'T or CONTINUOUS often causes confusion when not used strictly. And strict formatting is the mark of a professional screenwriter, anyway.
For the record, CONTINUED, CON'T and CONTINUOUS literally mean the continuation of a single scene, and that means the the scene and the CONTINUOUS scenes can all be shot as one scene. If you hand me a script with 135 scenes, but I run it through scheduling and take the CONTINUOS scenes into account, maybe the script is only 115 scenes, possibly a HUGH difference in cost and this is all about money when it comes down to it.
If the Man moves from one room to the next and the scene is labeled CONTINUOUS, that mucks up the scheduling, because it's not a continuous shot.
The remedy is simple if ugly-- Just spell it out as an ACTION LINE:
The Man enters the bedroom from the hallway, the conversation already in progress.
A studio reader knows all this. By formatting his script rigidly, the writer pleases the readers eye for producibility, and that's what gets a RECCOMEND that counts. This also explains why contest winning scripts are rarely produced. Contest readers are not pro quality readers, so they just want a good read and no outright formatting blunders.
However, do NOT overtly direct, and avoid scene transitions unless they are literally part of the story. Don't use INSERT: when a SHOT will do, but know that if you're hired as the project writer you'll have to go back and do so. If you do take a shortcut or improvise, you'd better be consistent, 'cause nobody will waste time trying to figure out your "style". Style comes in the Characters, Settings, and Story, not the formatting.
So yes, the story and settings have to be producible in a spec, but no, you don't have to write a shooting script.
 
I know others have chimed in, but this seems right to me. Maybe a final answer for the OP. Thank you, Unknown.

As to @geckopelli 's arguments, they seem to miss the point... the OP wants them to be in the same house. Yes, they may eventually be filmed in separate locations, but they are meant to be the same set, both contained in INT. HOUSE. The OP was asking the proper format for indicating how the dialog would be annotated to indicate that. As a producer myself, I would want everyone on the crew to know that the HALLWAY location we shot last week, is -- storywise -- to be located outside the BEDROOM we are shooting today. That affects cast call, costuming, props, lighting, etc. So, anything that can be done to insure everyone understands these are part of the same master scene, like "INT. HOUSE/HALLWAY" and "INT. HOUSE/BEDROOM" would keep things clear in a spec or a shooting script.
Indie guys do lots of stuff a studio systems trained writer like me wouldn't do. I'm building my company by hiring them and bringing them up to par.
See post above for the definition of CONTINUOUS. It's irrelevant that the two rooms are in the same house, unless the camera follows the character from room-to-room.
 
When I hand a slasher script to my Makeup Person and ask for an estimate on makeup cost, she doesn't read the entire script, just the scenes with Makeup tags.

So, in your world, each department doesn't do their own breakdown, they depend on you to do it? Then they make estimates based on the scenes you've tagged?
 
The Industry has changed. You want to get work, learn to write for production.
No offense but after your latest reply in the thread? I had to go back to your previous reply. When you say write for production? What exactly do you mean? I ask this because you went on about writing a shooting script and now you're saying do NOT write a shooting script. You say the industry has changed. HOW SO? Every screenplay needs to be written for PRODUCTION otherwise? Why write a screenplay? Go write a book.

It's pretty much WIDELY ACCEPTED that the only real reason to write a SPEC SCREENPLAY is to get it into production one day. If we take your example and use the slasher script according to your script breakdown -- it'll cost too much to produce? So what? That happens every day. That's one of the occupational hazzards of this industry. As a spec screenwriter, YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO KNOW WHY THEY PASSED ON YOUR MATERIAL. Could have been the prospective budget. Could have been a terrible execution or ANYTHING IN BETWEEN. Once the Professional Reader passes? That's it. They go on to write coverage but they don't share the coverage with the writer.

If the CONCEPT is remarkable... If the EXECUTION is remarkable... You've got a shot. What you do NOT want to do is write a shooting script of any kind. Sure, you can place the occasional DIRECTION in there if there's no other or better way to handle it but make no mistake... We as spec writers are WRITING FOR THE READER.

If you're writing huge stories... i.e., period pieces, stories that will require a lot of special effects, etc.? Then expect it to be even harder to get your spec through the maze of gatekeepers that have to kick it up to the next level. It's their job to FIND a REASON NOT to kick it up. Budget is but only ONE reason.

Having said all that however... If your concept and execution make it through the gatekeepers? Don't worry about the shooting script... LOL. Somebody is going to have to sit down with a hell of a lot of notes from the director and cinematographer and type it up. That is NOT the spec screenwriter's job. Can you get that job? Possibly. I've been asked to write shooting scripts before based on the original screenplay and notes but quite frankly... It didn't pay enough and really? It's a lot of transcribing and not writing as far as I'm concerned.

Does somebody have to do it? Most certainly. Do we as spec screenwriters have to? NOPE. If you want to... Can YOU? Sure, you can always volunteer or ask but in the end? It's not really our job.

If you're an Indie filmmaker and screenwriter? Then of course, all this is quite MOOT if you're shooting what you write. You'll fashion your own shooting script when it's necessary.

Just remember... It's ALWAYS been the IDEA that any spec screenplay should be written for EVENTUAL PRODUCTION. That's what screenplays are ALL ABOUT. The industry hasn't changed. That was true way back in the day and is still true today. If you're trying to tell us all that we should keep production costs in mind? Great.

It's best however... IF YOU WANT TO GET NOTICED? To just write a GREAT FUCKING STORY that we've NOT seen before. And for those of you who keep telling me and everyone else, IT'S ALL BEEN DONE BEFORE... THERE IS NOTHING NEW. Guess what? You're wrong too. Concept is KING today. If anything in the industry has CHANGED? It's that CONCEPT is KING. You can no longer write derivative material and expect big things to happen. You have to be original and the good news is that YOU CAN BE ORIGINAL if you put the WORK INTO YOUR CONCEPT.
 
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directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
geckopelli, nothing in your response to my question addressed what I asked.
But this jumped out at me:
Yes and no. It's not so much about being production ready as being producible within the desired budget range.
Do I understand you correctly;
A spec script should be written with the desired budget range in mind?

How does a writer know the desired budget range of a producer?
 
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