Call out a reference?

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  • Call out a reference?

    Interested in thoughts on making specific reference to other movies in a screenplay - fine? Never? It depends?

    One of my scripts is sci-fi comedy, it opens with a very similar scene to the opening of Predator - space - a dot / star becomes a ship - pan round to see it heading for Earth. This is deliberate and Predator is an influence on the rest of the script (along with other 80s sci-fi monster movies).

    My question is, knowing that there are bound to be some readers out there who haven't seen Predator, is it worth adding a reader's note saying "like the start of Predator"?

    Or do you just cross your fingers you get a reader who's on your wavelength?

  • #2
    Re: Call out a reference?

    IMHO don't use references to describe actions or scenes or try to paint the picture.

    The homage or inspiration from other films or scenes shouldn't be literally expressed in the script.

    Just describe the action and let the reader make the connection in their minds.

    EDIT: Also you may want to rethink how much "directing" you want to insert into your script. If possible try to avoid camera directions like you mentioned "we pan this way", "the camera shot form overhead", etc. Generally those decisions on how to direct are left to the director to determine how to present it visually.

    There are other ways to get around this as well but they generally become to descriptive action paragraphs (my Achilles heel) such as:
    Infinite space. Miniscule dots of light on an absolute black canvas. One of those dots grows in size becoming defined as a moving spaceship. It zooms/rockets by and approaches the illuminated horizon of a blue planet speckled with white clouds. Earth.

    Something like the above doesn't tell us what angles or camera positions but it does some description of the action (maybe too much).

    IMHO however it is better than:

    Space. Stars. An alien spaceship rockets to earth and enters it's atmosphere.
    Last edited by UneducatedFan; 12-15-2016, 10:49 AM. Reason: Additional thoughts.
    You know Jill you remind me of my mother. She was the biggest whore in Alameda and the finest woman that ever lived. Whoever my father was, for an hour or for a month, he must have been a happy man.

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    • #3
      Re: Call out a reference?

      Does the reference need to be clear for any story reason? Are you going to build on it later, have someone comment on it, etc.? Basically, is it a setup for anything in particular?

      If it's just an homage because you like Predator, then I wouldn't call it out. But if it's going to be important later for that to clearly look like Predator, then it might be worth making it obvious.

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