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Old 03-17-2020, 01:12 AM   #11
ComicBent's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 4,266
Default Re: Formatting with regards to location changes

You are not directing anything when you indicate a location within a scene.

However, I would stress to you that significant changes of location deserve their own master Scene Heading, not just a slugline.

For example, let's say that a restaurant has essentially three areas. (1) The main dining area, (2) a bar, (3) a cozy area with a fireplace (gas, ceramic logs). Each area is easily visible to the others, but they are not so close together that people could chat back and forth among them without shouting across the room.

If your story deals with people and events in each of the three areas, it is better to use a master Scene Heading for each area, as in:




Do you have to do it this way? No. You can use slugs like BAR and DINING SECTION and FIRESIDE AREA after you establish the general scene with:


If you use minislugs like BAR, etc., those scenes — and they are scenes, not just locations within a scene — will be changed to master Scene Headings somewhere in the rewrite process.

Now, about "directing" in scenes ... Whether you use master Scene Headings or minislugs, you should — in general — describe what you mean for the audience to see. Do not try to designate shots as such with things like ANGLE ON JOE. And do not try to describe every gesture that a character makes, or every emotion that a character displays.

But all of the stuff about not directing is like quicksand. You trust it to hold you up, but when you wander out into it, you start to sink. Not much is solid about rules in screenwriting.

For example, if two people are at the bar, and one of them starts talking about a picture behind the bar, you might write:
Joe points at a picture behind the bar.

That's me forty years ago. God, I was in great shape in those days.
This is perfectly good screenwriting. The director would then decide on the shots. Is the picture visible when Joe speaks and points, or do we just see him speak and point, and then we have a close-up on the picture? You do not have to get into all of that.

But suppose you have some specific images in your mind as to what is playing out before you. I would not hesitate to write something like:
Joe points at a picture behind the bar.

That's me forty years ago.

An 8 x 10 glossy black-and-white picture of Joe in a football jersey hangs behind the bar.

JOE (O.S.)
I was in great shape in those days.
It is clear from the way that I wrote this that the camera gives us a close-up shot of the picture. Also, the JOE (O.S.) tells us that Joe makes his nostalgic comment while we are looking at the picture.

Is this directing? Yeah, a little bit. But the act of writing is itself involves some directing. Just do not overdo it.

"The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." ComicBent.
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