Is there such a thing as a "FLASH INSERT"?



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  • Is there such a thing as a "FLASH INSERT"?

    I'd like to do a "flash-like" insert of a shot within a scene. Its "violent" aspect is important.

    How would I phrase it (caps and all)?

    "FLASH INSERT: MARIAâ€TMS SON, 17, waves as he leaves the kitchen.

    BACK TO SCENE" (?)

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2

    That way would get the point across visually, I believe. Another way to do it that maybe sets it apart from the rest of the page would be to do it like:


    Risbreaker cuts down a Samurai with his blade.


    Resume scene.

    This way it stands out on the page and makes a point the reader can't just glaze over.


    • #3
      There's such a thing as a FLASH CUT?

      Not that it doesn't get the idea across or that I'd be distracted by it, but isn't a CUT just a CUT. I mean, I do know the effect you're talking about, a two to four second strobe just enough to register it then it's gone. I just don't know if I've seen FLASH CUT used.

      Curious only. Any specific scripts or books that use it?



      • #4
        Like Dragonslayer, I thought a CUT is a CUT is a CUT.
        Literally, a cut, a splice, between two frames of film, visually "instant."


        • #5
          You could try using a SMASH CUT to intimate the violent scene change and then come back to your primary.

          I'd just find a well to tell it without getting that deep. Your direction, even if you see it as story integral at the moment, probably won't have a very long lifespan in the hands of rewrites, directors, etc...


          • #6
            [Edited-8/16/2001 - kt]

            According to 'Paul Argentini', in <!--EZCODE UNDERLINE START-->Elements of Style for Screenwriters <!--EZCODE UNDERLINE END--> - 1998 - pg. 77

            Used when the writer wishes to focus attention on a very specific object for a specific reason. It is a shot within a shot."

            According to a lot of people who are in different positions in the industry: Standards, within the industy, will already do what you want: CUT TO: (!)

            INSERT is used to punctuate a point in the scene. I don't recall INSERT ever being used on large objects, such as a person. (I coud be wrong, here.)

            Consider those who suggested CUT TO:

            SMASH CUT: is the current <!--EZCODE ITALIC START--> 'hate child<!--EZCODE ITALIC END-->. Use at your own risk.

            If you're writing to a specific genre which accepts different standards, then this post doesn't apply. (Such as SciFi - Horror - ?)

            - - -

            Is't it what you do with 'new image' that counts! Freeze frame, release - what? (Fuzzy Dissolve?) (Just kidding with that one!)

            - - -

            Bottom line: don't get hung up on it! Keep going - it'll cook inside your brain. Come back t it whenever you get an AHA! clicks in and fix it.



            • #7
              Good point on the INSERT, Killiam. I wasn't focusing on that. You're right, you don't INSERT large objects. INSERTS are used primarily for letters, articles that someone is reading, a clue in a mystery, or other small item. The use of FLASH grabbed my attention.

              As for SMASH CUT:, it's something that should be avoided, because it doesn't exist. You'll see it in produced scripts, but a CUTs a CUT. However, SMASH CUT can be used if you are showing a progression of time and you want to punctuate that (!) It'd clue the editor into what you're trying to do.


              Joe runs.

              DISSOLVE TO:

              Joe gasps for air.

              DISSOLVE TO:

              Joe walks.

              CUT TO:

              Joe stumbles.

              CUT TO:

              Joe falls.

              SMASH CUT TO:

              Joe crawls.

              SMASH CUT TO:

              Joe clutches his chest and dies.

              It shows an editor the progression time. That'd tell the editor to hold the images shorter and shorter. You can do a CUT and stick on an image for 1 sec or to infinity, but the progression would suggest to the editor you want to do, let's say, a 30 sec image then dissolve, a 20 sec image then dissolve, a 15 sec image then cut, a 10 sec image then cut, a 5 sec image then cut, a 2 sec image then cut.

              I'd walk away from watching the above scene with the impression that Joe put up a hell of a long run, but the end came quickly. Some version of the above would be the only time I'd use the SMASH CUT. Just my opinion, for what it's worth.



              • #8
                When I was envisioning this "flash" mentioned in the initial thread, I pictured some kind of burst of light associated with the cut... therefore 'flash cut' jumped to mind.

                Screenplay format is meant to be fiddled with sometimes in a creative way that gets the point across. Visually, my description did the job (for me). I guess maybe not so for others. ;-)


                • #9
                  Guys - thanks a lot for the input.

                  As Riskbreaker said, I do need "a burst of light associated with the cut", hence my "FLASH INSERT" appellation. Although I do not encourage "SMASH CUTS" and the likes, I liked your "FLASH CUT" suggestion, even if that's pushing it.

                  Killiam does have a point about INSERT being mostly used for smaller objects, but is there a written or unwritten rule that says INSERT cannot be used for a clip WHEN that clip is used as a "moving picture/insert" (within the scene) and not as an independent scene?

                  That INSERT reminder piqued my curiosity and I just googled a post on another board that adresses a similar issue (without providing an answer, unfortunately).


                  "Ref 1819.
                  If I want to insert a one second clip from a specific older film into the screenplay I'm writing, how do I write that into the script? I once was told to use the slugline option with "INSERT STOCK SHOT" to indicate a clip was to be inserted and then "RETURN TO SCREENPLAY."
                  Then I was told that was not proper, but no alternative offered instead. I'd appreciate your help if you can provide it or give the address of some source that might.

                  Can of worms, anyone?


                  • #10
                    Stray has a very good point. Say ten years ago CUT TO'S and all the other direction was in. Know the less you have the better. Is it really gonna make a difference?

                    Another thing, I think it was Crash who said it? Con't, after a bit of stage direction (same character speaking) is not needed anymore.

                    I think not using (con't) has greatly improved the viewing and reading of my scripts.

                    Anyway stray's got the right idea.


                    • #11
                      Flash! Smash! Boom!

                      One of the earlier drafts of The Crow uses similar techniques to show those flashes of memory/psychometry that Eric experiences. Writer David Schow simply takes a line or two, the first time one of these flashes comes up, and explains what the hell they are and how they should be handled.

                      Basically, if the reader can tell exactly what you're trying to do, you're mostly safe.

                      (The script in question is available at Drew's Script-O-Rama.)



                      • #12
                        Ach... I've now had TWO gloriously detailed and involved responses to this question that are permanently lost in the "cyber-abyss". The first one was the result of stupid me posting my response to the preview screen and then absentmindedly closing the window before I'd *actually* posted it. The second one gave me an error message when I posted it into the preview screen that shut my Netscape window down before I could post it...

                        I WILL GET THIS RESPONSE POSTED.

                        Basically, I was in accord with Nathan. Many of my screenplays use brief visuals as representations of states of mind (most of my scripts deal with psychos/psychics/hallucinations of all sorts), and I generally dispense with the directorial tags altogether (Smash cut, cut to, etc...) and draw special attention to the cuts in another manner. However, in order for this to work I will have had to already have established that these are cuts so that I don't lose my reader (a la The Crow)...

                        What I might do:

                        Jarod follows the Mystery Woman through the crowded terminal...

                        A KNIFE PIERCES HUMAN FLESH

                        BLOOD SPURTS

                        Jarod doubles over, clutches his stomach, dry heaves...


                        Or, if I want to draw even more attention to the brief visuals I'll use double dashes:

                        -- A KNIFE PIERCES HUMAN FLESH

                        -- BLOOD SPURTS


                        Sometimes I even cheat a little, if I don't want my reader to know exactly what's going on right away:

                        BLOOD SPURTS

                        Jarod doubles over, clutches his stomach, dry heaves...

                        He glances around, confused. It was just a vision.

                        [note: this line comes too late if you want the reader to get it right away, especially if it's the first such visual. This could cause the reader to "backtrack", so only use this if you want to briefly and purposely confuse your reader]


                        If it's the first time, I might do something like:

                        Jarod follows the Mystery Woman through the crowded terminal...

                        A VISION: A knife pierces human flesh. Blood spurts.

                        Jarod doubles over, etc...


                        If you absolutely must use a directorial tag, I would suggest just using a good old fashioned "cut to":

                        ...through the crowded terminal...

                        Cut To:

                        A KNIFE PIERCES HUMAN FLESH

                        BLOOD SPURTS

                        Return to: (or - Back to Scene: )


                        Whatever you do, the most important thing is to get it across to your reader and effectively. Format can definitely be played around with.




                        • #13
                          yes you can do a FLASHCUT which is appropriate if you have a scene that you suddenly want to punctuate with a quick, sudden flash.

                          try putting the flashcut description in all caps or italics so that it's aesthetically clear when you cut back to your original description.

                          Did you ever kill anyone innocent?

                          Strange looks away.

                          <!--EZCODE ITALIC START--> FLASHCUT:
                          Of the girl looking up. Tears on her face.

                          MUZZLE FLASHES
                          <!--EZCODE ITALIC END-->

                          He lights a cigarette.

                          STRANGE MIND
                          I never killed anyone unnecessary.

                          That wasn't my question.


                          • #14
                            Which scripts or books have an example of FLASHCUT? I haven't seen it. I can undestand using something you explain (a la Crow), but what's the example? What can you site as an example when asked?



                            • #15
                              if you're asking me, i've read a few scripts that do use flashcut but can't remember specifically which ones. if you are asking nshumate he probably means the crow script available online.

                              i'm of the opinion that if it works, it works.

                              oh i just remembered, the limey by lem dobbs uses flashcuts very effectively.

                              memento uses longer flashbacks in italics to differentiate.

                              so there you go, now you have your examples.