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Old 02-04-2011, 04:24 PM   #41
mariot
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Default Re: Complicated split-screen shot

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Originally Posted by TwoBrad Bradley View Post
That's basically what I'm saying.

Start with the movie in your head and only keep what is necessary and discard what is not. It takes skill to know the difference.

Just because you saw it in your head, or you think it's cool, or it was interesting in a completed movie, it's not enough justification to write it on your pages.
I don't think we're talking about the same thing.

Only the writer can decide if something is significant to the story they want to tell. If it's significant to them they should include it.
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:29 PM   #42
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Default Re: Complicated split-screen shot

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Originally Posted by KitchonaSteve View Post
fanatic_about_film,
I think you've taken the advice "don't direct from the page" a bit too far. This advice popped up back in the late 80s or early 90s, around the time that I was a reader. In those days the majority of scripts available to study were shooting scripts, and most shooting scripts include very specific shots because it's the director who is responsible for the shooting script, whether they write it by themselves or with the writer. They put those specific shots in because they want the production team to know what's going on in every scene and they don't want there to be any ambiguity or confusion about sets, wardrobe or equipment.

After studying shooting scripts, many novice writers started getting shot specific in their scripts. They started using terms like DOLLY IN, CRANE UP, CLOSE ON, PULL BACK TO REVEAL, etc. This was also symptomatic of recent film school grads who really wanted to direct but were trying to break in with screenplays. Those specific camera techniques did torque off a few directors and producers, and were not standard in spec scripts. So the advice was given not to use that directing terminology in your spec script, but to find creative ways to indicate the cool shots you see in the movie you want to write. No one with any sense gave the advice not to create cool visuals in your spec script.

Writers create shots and edits all the time. Comedy and horror rely on edits for laughs and shocks, and we write them into the script. If you imagine a specific scene or sequence with a specific look, or shot in particular way, there's nothing wrong with writing it the way you see it so long as you don't get all directorish about it. For instance, which of the following two passages is more engaging?
Code:
EXT. CITY STREET - DAY Pedestrians walk along the side walk. A MAN and a WOMAN walk together wearing trench coats. The man wears cowboy boots and the woman wears ballerina slippers. They stop in front of the bank, pull ski masks over their heads, and shed their trench coats revealing the man in a cowboy outfit and the woman in a tutu. Both carry shotguns. -or- EXT. CITY STREET - DAY A confusion of shoes, mostly loafers and sensible business pumps walk down a busy sidewalk. A pair of ballet slippers and a pair of cowboy boots walk side-by-side moving through the flowing crowd. Trench coats hide any further hints of costume. The MAN and WOMAN stop in front of the bank. They pull ski masks over their heads, and shed their trench coats revealing the man in a cowboy outfit and the woman in a tutu. Both carry shotguns.
Personally, I prefer the second one. It feels more like a movie where the first example is more narrative. Most people probably saw a tracking shot in their mind as they read the second passage, but it could easily have been done with cuts. The first passage reads like a wide master shot, and there's no surprise and the reveal isn't as strong in my opinion. The second example suggests shots, but there are a number of ways a director can realize this scene. They can PAN UP, CUT TO, TILT UP, or PULL BACK for the reveal. I'm sure that 6 different directors would shoot it 6 different ways, and that none of them would get pissy while reading it. And if they had a better way to handle the scene, then good on them.

Producers, Execs, agents and managers are all looking for writers with vision, style and a unique voice. The writer's job is to set down in script form the information that should be seen and heard that best tells their story. If a split screen is the best choice to communicate that story, then do it. My advice stands: write with vision, style, and your unique voice.
I prefer the first one.

They look like normal people, like they'd mix in with the crowd. Then we see their shoes and know something is off.

I think that's more interesting than starting with the shoes.
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:39 PM   #43
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Default Re: Complicated split-screen shot

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Originally Posted by TwoBrad Bradley View Post
That's basically what I'm saying.

Start with the movie in your head and only keep what is necessary and discard what is not. It takes skill to know the difference.

Just because you saw it in your head, or you think it's cool, or it was interesting in a completed movie, it's not enough justification to write it on your pages.
So -- you read the OP's split screen character intros, and you decided that it wasn't necessary? How can you know this for fact if you haven't read the entire script? Or, are you talking about someone else's script?

Better yet -- don't tell us, show us. Show us the "only what's necessary" style you speak of, preferably via a sample from your own pages.
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:59 PM   #44
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Default Re: Complicated split-screen shot

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So -- you read the OP's split screen character intros, and you decided that it wasn't necessary? How can you know this for fact if you haven't read the entire script? Or, are you talking about someone else's script?

Better yet -- don't tell us, show us. Show us the "only what's necessary" style you speak of, preferably via a sample from your own pages.
I never said "it wasn't necessary". I'm more curious about the possible circumstances it would be necessary - TO THE STORY.
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:13 PM   #45
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Default Re: Complicated split-screen shot

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I never said "it wasn't necessary". I'm more curious about the possible circumstances it would be necessary - TO THE STORY.
Contrasting the lead characters. Side by side. It's a technique this particular writer wants to use. I think this was clear immediately.

You seem to have a "no-frills ever" approach to screenwriting. I'm curious to see them in action. That's why I was hoping to see some of your pages. That's all.
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:56 PM   #46
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Default Re: Complicated split-screen shot

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I never said "it wasn't necessary". I'm more curious about the possible circumstances it would be necessary - TO THE STORY.
But it doesn't have to be necessary to the story. We're writing movies, not stories. If we think of a kick ass visual that isn't necessary to tell the story, why shouldn't we put it in?

Your rigorous tests for what can and can't be in a screenplay have no relation to how professional writers write.

Last edited by JeffLowell : 02-04-2011 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:02 PM   #47
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Default Re: Complicated split-screen shot

Jeff, you said "professional writers writer."

Otherwise you're right. Er.
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:22 PM   #48
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Default Re: Complicated split-screen shot

You just rewrote me. How did it feel?
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:44 PM   #49
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Default Re: Complicated split-screen shot

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Originally Posted by Brian Koppelman View Post
The next three scenes play in split screen.
And then don't mention it again, just let it play.
This is probably how I would do it. But everything depends on the reason for the split screen and what I was trying to do.

Usually split screen is either used to create cross-cutting suspense with the audience's eyes instead of edits, or to compare two (or more) simultaneous actions. But both of those things can be done with editing instead of split screen, and editing is much easier to follow on the page (I think).

I just rewatched a season one episode of CHUCK that showed Chuck, Sara, and Casey each getting ready to go to a formal function. Two of them were dealing with weapons, Chuck was just dealing with getting dressed in clothes that match. This could have been done in split screen, but instead it was a similar moment of each character cut together - so Chuck is pulling up his socks, Sara is putting a sheeth of throwing knives on her thigh, Casey is checking the action on his gun (which may or may not be a Glock). And they used the flow of similar elements to show the difference between each character.

I think that would be more clear on the page - because in real life we can't read a couple of words here and a couple of words there and imagine them on the same screen without *thinking about it*. That's pulling the reader out of the story. I would rather keep them so deep in the story that they aren't thinking at all - just feeling - and let the director come up with the genius idea that this could be done split screen ala THE GRIFTERS opening.

For me, the minute specifics of how something ends up on screen is less important than making sure the story ends up on screen. If it's cut or split screen isn't as important as the feeling of how these two or three characters are connected (or disconnected) by comparing these scenes.

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Old 02-23-2011, 04:22 AM   #50
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Default Re: Complicated split-screen shot

Hmm - I just been thinking how to describe a telephone conference call between the five leading characters in my script, and considering split-screening it.

Now I'm thinking that doing this is taking talking-heads to the nth degree.

Or is it the 5th degree?

So long as I dont get the third again....

Anyway. Welcome advice

Last edited by Steven Jenkins : 02-23-2011 at 05:56 AM.
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