Scene Headings

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  • #61
    Re: Scene Headings

    Guys,
    What the reader is looking for is the feeling that the writer of the given screenplay has authority over, and command of, the material. This authority grows in the reader a sense of calm, an ease, that allows the reader to get sucked into the story.
    It's like a magic trick of sorts. Or a form of hypnosis. When I say trick and hypnosis, I am not talking about putting one over on anyone, but the opposite. Because this authority only comes through hours put in, serious thought, and an honest, though critical, love of the story you are setting out to tell.
    And so if you do it by following a traditional approach, that can work.
    And if you do it in a less traditional manner, that can work too.

    Here's how I opened Solitary Man. Now, the sticklers among you will notice that I broke a great many rules. And some will think that I 'got away' with it because I was a produced writer already or because I was directing the movie.
    But I didn't 'get away' with anything. I was trying to create an effect. To get the story I saw in my head into the reader's head and then onto the screen.
    Decide if it works (and it's fair if you think it doesn't).
    And, whichever you decide, ask yourself why...

    Code:
                     OPEN IN:
    
                     A NEW YORK APARTMENT  
    
                     Spacious.  Modernist furniture.  Some black lacquer.
    
                     A man's voice is heard.  From his tone, we can tell he's
                     used to people listening when he speaks.
    
                                            BEN (V.O.)
                               The day I turned thirteen... 
    
                     TRACK into...
    
    
    
                     THE BEDROOM...
    
                     BEN KALMAN sleeps.
    
                                            BEN (V.O.)
                               ...Actually, it was the night I
                               turned thirteen, after the party
                               and the envelopes and speeches and
                               all that...
    
                     An alarm buzzes.  Ben slowly sits up.  It is a rare
                     unguarded moment.  He doesn't let anyone see him like
                     this:  untucked, groggy, wearing all of his 55-plus years
                     on his face.  It takes him a long moment to reach for his
                     bathrobe and put it on.
    
                                            BEN (V.O.)
                               ...My father came into my bedroom,
                               put a hand on my shoulder and
                               said,  "Ben, a lot of guys are
                               gonna tell you a lot of ****.  But
                               what I'm gonna tell you applies
                               across the board. Business,
                               personal, whatever, what-have
                               you...
    
                     He reaches into a bottle of children's aspirin, swallows
                     one without water, and moves to the...
    
    
    
                     BATHROOM 
    
                     Ben checks himself in the mirror.  Pulls his robe tight. 
                     Slicks his hair with his hands.  
    
                                            BEN (V.O.)
                               "Son," he said, "**** 'em where
                               you find 'em, and leave 'em where
                               you **** 'em..."
    
                     Ben clears his eyes, splashes water on his face.
    
                                            BEN (V.O.)
                               He was either a hundred per cent
                               right or a hundred per cent wrong.
                               I'm still not sure which.
    
                     Ben takes one more look at himself in the mirror and
                     leaves the bathroom as Johnny Cash's version of Solitary
                     Man begins to play.
    
                                                                      CUT TO:
    
    
    
                     CITY STREETS
    
                     CREDITS roll and the song continues as Ben moves through
                     the Upper East Side streets of Manhattan.  
    
                     This is Ben as the world sees him:  almost sixty but
                     fighting it hard, he walks with the authoritative air of
                     a man who usually gets his way.
    
                     Note:  Throughout, Ben always wears black Armani, black
                     slacks, black jeans, black sweaters, black shoes.  Even
                     his hair is black, as long as he goes to the colorist
                     once a month.

    Comment


    • #62
      Re: Scene Headings

      if it is clear--if you are not making people pause--if you are getting across exactly what you want to get across, NO ONE WILL CARE HOW YOU DID IT.
      +1

      Quoting just to emphasize the importance of what BDZ said.
      Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue

      Comment


      • #63
        Re: Scene Headings

        Originally posted by Brian Koppelman View Post
        Here's how I opened Solitary Man. Now, the sticklers among you will notice that I broke a great many rules. And some will think that I 'got away' with it because I was a produced writer already or because I was directing the movie.
        But I didn't 'get away' with anything. I was trying to create an effect. To get the story I saw in my head into the reader's head and then onto the screen.
        Decide if it works (and it's fair if you think it doesn't).
        And, whichever you decide, ask yourself why...
        It worked for me on many levels. Thanks for taking the time to post. There is a lot to learn from this sample.

        One question: What do gain or acheive by not fully slugging A NEW YORK APARTMENT and CITY STREETS. IMHO, EXT. NEW YORK APARTMENT - DAY
        and EXT. CITY STREETS - DAY would not affect the flow, tone, or voice.

        Comment


        • #64
          Re: Scene Headings

          That's great writing, Brian. I'm totally stealing that style.

          Comment


          • #65
            Re: Scene Headings

            In all honesty, this thread has been a really insightful and fascinating read. As I continue to be liberated from the so-called rules, I see more and more improvement in my own work.

            If I ever make it big and write a "How to" on screenwriting, page one will just say clarity is king. The other 120 pages will be blank.
            Ring-a-ding-ding, baby.

            Comment


            • #66
              Re: Scene Headings

              Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
              It worked for me on many levels. Thanks for taking the time to post. There is a lot to learn from this sample.

              One question: What do gain or acheive by not fully slugging A NEW YORK APARTMENT and CITY STREETS. IMHO, EXT. NEW YORK APARTMENT - DAY
              and EXT. CITY STREETS - DAY would not affect the flow, tone, or voice.
              well, I guess I think it reads more smoothly this way. that your eye glides over it and your subconscious doesn't have to process or bump into the technical stuff...

              But mostly, it's just instinct.

              Comment


              • #67
                Re: Scene Headings

                Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
                That's great writing, Brian. I'm totally stealing that style.
                Thanks. and dare ya.

                Comment


                • #68
                  Re: Scene Headings

                  Brian, I think the pages read good and create a specific mood and sense of place, but you ****ed yourself by writing things like "this is a rare unguarded moment." If that can't specifically be shot, it's not allowed. Or, maybe you can get away with it but no one else can. Therefore your example is a terrible one and JetMetFan will sh!t all over your face for presenting this trojan horse.

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Re: Scene Headings

                    Originally posted by BattleDolphinZero View Post
                    Brian, I think the pages read good and create a specific mood and sense of place, but you ****ed yourself by writing things like "this is a rare unguarded moment." If that can't specifically be shot, it's not allowed. Or, maybe you can get away with it but no one else can. Therefore your example is a terrible one and JetMetFan will sh!t all over your face for presenting this trojan horse.
                    You're right, BDZ, as usual. I put this out there so that others would try and fail to do same.
                    So that I, and all my friends, could get all the gigs.
                    And so that everyone else would be laughed at.

                    I'm so ashamed.

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      Re: Scene Headings

                      Yes.
                      Last edited by wcmartell; 12-02-2011, 09:25 PM.
                      Free Script Tips:
                      http://www.scriptsecrets.net

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        Re: Scene Headings

                        Originally posted by The Road Warrior View Post
                        My ragged and late input to this quickly accelerating thread.

                        I began by writing scripts to look like other scripts to get the wheels off the ground but now I'm looking for anything I like, that works... as you gain confidence, you slowly begin to dictate to the page, rather than have the page dictate to you.

                        Even writing absolute b.s. as an attempt to find a style, way through, rather than stick to the tried and tested, and it takes your writing down at first... way down...

                        I owe at least some of this slow progress -- if you can call it that glancing at this piece of sh1t script of mine I have in front of me -- to Mr Jeff Lowell who continually hammered away at these posts -- eight months or so ago.

                        The posts in question effectively "outlawed" the insertion of a song, or suggested you can't use "we see" or said there's this thing called a spec script you see, and then there's a production script and blah blah blah, and camera angles are not permitted in specs and so on and so forth...

                        And it was all b.s.

                        A great stinking pile of it.

                        A carefully nuanced non-butt kissing thanks to Jeff Lowell from this poster.

                        It was timely for me as some of this stuff was beginning to bite on my writing, not quite sure why, was it "unconsciously" ... not exactly sure but the "rules" were intruding. .. late here, hope this babble was at least semi-readable.
                        Technically, you're still kissing butt.
                        Forthcoming: The Annual, "I JUST GOT DUMPED" Valentine's Short Screenplay Writing Competition. Keep an eye on Writing Exercises.

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          Re: Scene Headings

                          I have started to do it my way but we do get influenced when we read certain things.

                          For example, I wrote VO -- a conversation happening as two charcaters were touring, by air, the devastation of a mega storm. I broke up the dialogue between the images because I wanted the reader to "see" it as it would be filmed and edited.

                          Months later I read something on John August's blog saying this is not the way to do. Write the action in one section. Write the VO in total. The rest is done in editing.

                          It did rattle me. Because here's a pro saying this is so. I changed it. But I hated the way it looked on the page. I changed it back.

                          But I have to be honest -- every time I reread that one page I have a nagging doubt I'm doing it wrong as per John August.
                          Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

                          Comment


                          • #73
                            Re: Scene Headings

                            I don't think anyone is going to have all the right answers for your writing all the time, not even a respected pro. Take it in and filter generously, because your instincts for what you write and how you write it need to come first. When the script is finished, there should be no doubt you were in the driver's seat.

                            The easiest way to start elevating your writing is to own it.

                            Originally posted by emily blake View Post
                            I want to tattoo "Calculate Less" on my face.
                            "ssel etaluclac"
                            Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams telling myself it's not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.

                            Comment


                            • #74
                              Re: Scene Headings

                              I used to think consistency was important, but now even that doesn't always seem true.

                              Note the word "the" in the sample:

                              TRACK into...

                              THE BEDROOM

                              And then the next scene ...

                              ... and moves to the...

                              BATHROOM
                              "I am the story itself; its source, its voice, its music."
                              - Clive Barker, Galilee

                              Comment


                              • #75
                                Re: Scene Headings

                                i don't even know how you noticed that.

                                my guess is, no one else does

                                Comment

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