Formatting question - quick location changes



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  • Formatting question - quick location changes

    I have a scene that I would like to begin with someone standing in the hallway of a house and knocking on the door of a kid's room, then he enters and a scene plays out in the kid's room.

    Do I really need two sluglines for this? Is there some more elegant way of formatting this?

  • #2
    Re: Formatting question - quick location changes

    This sounds as though you have two separate camera set-ups: One in the hallway outside the child’s room (door closed), and one inside the child’s room.

    You could conceivably use “mini-slugs” and place your master scene heading as INT. (NAMED) HOUSEHOLD, then “HALLWAY” and “CHILD’S ROOM” as mini-slugs. The thing is, though, once your script sells, you’ll need to change those mini-slugs to regular Scene Headings, so why not do that in the first place?

    Do it both ways and see which one you feel “reads” better. You’re not saving any page space by doing it one way or the other.

    If you’re trying to edit to get your page count down to an acceptable number, the way to do that is to cut out unnecessary action such as the door-knocking shot or create lean, tight writing throughout the script.

    You seem to like to have characters walk a lot—down hallways, down sidewalks, et cetera. That’s okay as long as doing those things somehow serves the story, such as a person walks down the hallway and the person in the room hears them coming which cues the person in the room to prepare for a conflict. Or a person knocks on a door which surprises the person in the room and they are not ready for it for some (story) reason.

    EDIT TO ADD: You’ve posted several format questions in these forums. Not that you’re not allowed; you can do this for every problem you run into. But, perhaps it’s time you spent $24.99 on author David Trottier’s “The Screenwriter’s Bible, 7th Edition: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script.”

    You could learn a lot from that book, then read a lot of produced screenplays that are similar types of stories to what you write to see how they handled things. “10 Great Websites To Download Movie Scripts
    Last edited by Clint Hill; 04-16-2020, 07:17 PM.
    "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury


    • #3
      Re: Formatting question - quick location changes

      It's not a matter of saving space or cutting down on number of pages, I'm asking strictly from the standpoint of wanting to observe proper formatting rules.

      I don't have a problem with having full sluglines for this, I'm just worried about whether it wouldn't strike other people as awkward or cumbersome to have two sluglines so close together and to have one slugline for the sake of as little as someone knocking on the door, saying hello and walking in, but if this is ok and something typically seen in scripts, I'm ok with it.

      There must be many examples in film of this sort of thing - how many times have we seen an establishing shot of a person outside a building and then they walk into the building, or something like that - so I'm wondering how this is typically handled formatting wise. So, in that particular example, you would have:


      Frank walks into the office building.


      Frank walks up to the receptionist

      That thing of having two whole sluglines just for that little action seemed to me odd, but if that's how it's normally handled, I'm fine with it. Just want to make sure I'm not doing something that would be frowned upon.


      • #4
        Re: Formatting question - quick location changes

        Use two Scene Headings.

        That is how you do it. It does not matter that one of the scenes is short. It is still a scene. When you see a Scene Heading, it means: This is a scene with at least one shot. You are to set up and shoot a scene in this location.

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


        • #5
          Re: Formatting question - quick location changes

          Comicbent is correct. You could also use subheaders, but eventually you would have to add in a full slugline.

          Another option is to determine how important it is to have the scene with the one shot at the door. If it's important to the story that he "knock" before entering you should keep it.

          but... if the knock at the door isn't necessary, it would be more efficient (time and money-wise) to start the scene already in the bedroom-- just something to consider when creating scenes. If you can remove the scene and it doesn't affect the story, you should remove it now.

          good luck,
          "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso


          • #6
            Re: Formatting question - quick location changes

            I'm wondering if "CONTINUOUS" is still used for such scenes (change in place but not in time). That's how I learned it.


            "Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December; And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor--"


            • #7
              Re: Formatting question - quick location changes

              Originally posted by WillLevin View Post
              I'm wondering if "CONTINUOUS" is still used for such scenes (change in place but not in time). That's how I learned it.
              You do not ever need to use CONTINUOUS.

              The TIME portion of a Master Scene Heading deals with general time of day (basically, two things: DAY or NIGHT) for production purposes.

              If you use CONTINUOUS instead of DAY or NIGHT, you have made the CONTINUOUS scene dependent on the previous scene for its time element. That means that you have to reference the previous scene for the DAY / NIGHT issue. The two scenes should be written to be independent of one another, even though one follows the other in the finished product.
              Interesting sidebar: I once saw a documentary that dealt (at least partially) with director David Lynch. There is a scene in Eraserhead where someone knocks at the door. I do not remember how the scenes and shots were set up, but the knocking occurred in one scene, and was shot, and then the scene with the opening of the door was not shot until a couple of years later (no money to continue production, I guess).
              I suppose you could come up with an example where CONTINUOUS would be helpful for someone reading the script, as in this situation:
              People are outside around a campfire.

              Point of view shifts to the interior of a tent as people continue to talk around the campfire; and then one of the people from outside enters the tent. No significant time gap between the two scenes.
              There you have two different scenes (in terms of production), and you might add CONTINUOUS to make the continuity obvious. You are telling any reader that the person enters the tent while the campfire action is still going on or just as it is breaking up for the night. But you really do not need CONTINUOUS or LATER, because even if you use them, those things have to be shown in some way or conveyed through dialogue. Your job is to make it clear - through actions, visuals, and dialogue - what is going on. Remember that the audience is not reading a script with written clues like CONTINUOUS and LATER.

              For example, you might show that the tent scene is continuous by having someone get up from the campfire and walk toward the tent. Or you might not show that, but when the person enters the tent we can hear talking and laughter from outside around the campfire.

              On the other hand, if the tent scene is not CONTINUOUS, but rather is LATER, you can have a shot of everyone leaving the campfire. Then use a transitional scene of the campsite (sort of like an Establishing Shot), with nobody in sight and crickets chirping; then go to your tent scene, and someone enters the tent.

              Happy writing!

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