Help with a tricky sequence

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  • Help with a tricky sequence

    Hello everyone. I was wondering if anybody could possibly help with what the formatting would resemble for the following type of sequence:
    1. Exterior scene. Musical selection begins to play.
    2. Interior scene #1. Musical selection continues playing.
    3. Interior scene #2. Musical selection is still playing.
    4. Several (at least 4) switches between Interior Scenes #1 and #2, ending on #2. Musical selection continues playing uninterrupted.
    5. Short (hour or so) time-skip within Interior scene #2. Fades out along with musical selection.
    6. Next-day time-skip within Interior scene #2. No music.


    Any help is very much appreciated!

  • #2
    Re: Help with a tricky sequence

    Mikey!

    Here's where you can buy the latest edition of this book: The Screenwriter's Bible

    If not that book, then this one: The Hollywood Standard

    And here's a website where you can plug in the titles of either book to buy a used, older version of those books: ABE Books (buy the latest version possible)

    Either of these two books will illuminate, educate, and inform you of many of the questions you have about how to tackle your screenplay.

    Most of all, read other screenplays. Here's a website that has a good list of websites where you can find screenplays to read and emulate: Sites to find movie scripts

    As for your original post, no one can really see what your mind's eye sees — your “brain movie” — based on the skeleton sketch of the outline you provided above. Only you can write it, and that's what you must do. The suggested books will help you tremendously.
    Last edited by Clint Hill; 04-06-2018, 03:43 AM.
    “Organizations for writers palliate the writer‘s loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing.“ — Ernest Hemingway

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Help with a tricky sequence

      Originally posted by Mikey_Corolla View Post
      [LIST=1][*]Exterior scene. Musical selection begins to play...
      Is the music really that important? You're not trying an end-run around the director by suggesting a sound track, are you?

      However, there are always circumstances that might warrant such questions:

      I've used the expression "...music... plays over." Meaning, it plays over the scene change. It'll be clear what's happening if you use "(CONTINUOUS)" or "(SAME TIME)" in the subsequent scene headings.

      In one script I wrote a "[Note to Reader:...]" that "the echoing of the singing from the student assembly drones on and on throughout the set piece" or scenes or some such.

      In that case, I was trying to emulate how the kids' singing during the school scene in "The Birds" played over, and its sheer monotony helped to build the suspense as the birdies congregated on the monkey bars, behind lovely Ms Hedren as she sat on the bench. (In my case, it was a kid down one school corridor who was planning a home-made chemical attack,while the cops arrived down another corridor to investigate!)

      But the helpful hints/links provided in the first reply post are good, too. You have to learn how to contend with the myriad formatting issues in screenwriting, rather than posting here and waiting "x hours" to find out an answer that you will probably learn is just one of ten ways of doing it. Eventually, after you've written 5, 10, or 15 scripts you will have the answer to all your own questions and will have thus created a library of solutions within your own material.

      All the time, I go back into my old stuff because "I know I figured this out before... what was it again?"

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Help with a tricky sequence

        Originally posted by catcon View Post
        Is the music really that important? You're not trying an end-run around the director by suggesting a sound track, are you?
        All three of the scenes involve the same two main characters, and the song selection (Madonna's "Open Your Heart") is being performed by one of the characters in Interior Scene #1.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Help with a tricky sequence

          No prob. But be prepared for the higher-ups to overrule you.

          In one of my scripts, I wrote a named-song into a scene but it was only to achieve an effect. It's a dark comedy where a dictator tries to pacify the people with some outrageously sugar-coated song at the end of his dictated pronouncement on the overhead speaker for the day.

          A particularly incongruous tune was necessary to make a point; the actual song selection had little to do with anything.

          But, I fully expect that when the time comes to make the film, if every, that if the director or investors even like the notion they'll probably select a different song.

          Of course, beyond the simple selection, song usage also depends on whether or not the song's rights can be obtained.

          It can get messy.

          So go ahead and do it, but don't get too attached to the selection. Unless of course you make the film yourself - and own or otherwise can obtain ($) the rights.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Help with a tricky sequence

            Originally posted by Mikey_Corolla View Post
            All three of the scenes involve the same two main characters, and the song selection (Madonna's "Open Your Heart") is being performed by one of the characters in Interior Scene #1.
            “Regardless of whether you indicate music or not, the one thing you should not do (except in rare situations) is pick specific songs. Professional reader Allan Heifetz provides the following bad example:

            Durden’s coffin is lowered into the ground
            as Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”
            gives the scene a sad, introspective mood.

            The above will not make a producer drool with excitement. Unless you own the rights to the songs you want used, you are usually creating a no-win situation for yourself and a possible legal hurdle for anyone interested in buying the script.” *

            *(From: Trottier, David. “The Screenwriter's Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script” (Kindle Locations 4122-4127). Silman-James Press. Kindle Edition.)

            The emphasis here is on creating a legal hurdle for yourself. Why do that? Besides that all-important consideration, the inclusion of a specific song is often a red flag that the screenwriter is new to the craft. It's one of the many things that gives a reader a big, fat clue that you're an inexperienced writer and may change their outlook on the script to lead them to stop reading altogether or to ultimately say “Pass.”

            The professional writer's approach is to imply (not specify) the need for music through the good writing of Description, Action, and Dialogue. The music professionals, editor, and director will know very well how and when to apply music to your scene.

            If you must say there's music in the background, at least be general about it, such as “Over the radio, a ROCK SONG plays,” or “Fast-paced CLASSICAL MUSIC VIOLINS lend pace to the (character's) harried motions.” Again, buy one of those two books I recommended, read them, and apply their basic tenets to your screenwriting. You'll save yourself a lot of time getting better as a screenwriter.

            Maybe after you've sold the screenplay they may ask what song you were considering when you wrote the scene. On the other hand, they may not. More than likely, they'll already have in mind what song they want to use if they want to use any song at all.

            On top of all that, ask yourself the question, “Can the scene stand alone without the music?” If not, then is the scene really even necessary? Is it just there because of the song? If there was no music at all in the film's budget, how would you write the scene to its greatest effectiveness? The music must be inherent in the Description, Action, and Character Dialogue. Your writing must be the music.

            In the meantime, Mikey, it's best if you find another way to convey the same thing.
            Last edited by Clint Hill; 04-08-2018, 08:38 AM.
            “Organizations for writers palliate the writer‘s loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing.“ — Ernest Hemingway

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Help with a tricky sequence

              Originally posted by catcon View Post
              No prob. But be prepared for the higher-ups to overrule you.

              In one of my scripts, I wrote a named-song into a scene but it was only to achieve an effect. It's a dark comedy where a dictator tries to pacify the people with some outrageously sugar-coated song at the end of his dictated pronouncement on the overhead speaker for the day.

              A particularly incongruous tune was necessary to make a point; the actual song selection had little to do with anything.

              But, I fully expect that when the time comes to make the film, if every, that if the director or investors even like the notion they'll probably select a different song.

              Of course, beyond the simple selection, song usage also depends on whether or not the song's rights can be obtained.

              It can get messy.

              So go ahead and do it, but don't get too attached to the selection. Unless of course you make the film yourself - and own or otherwise can obtain ($) the rights.
              The song selections is not mandatory, it's simply a song I felt fit the mood of the scene, but there are multiple others which I suspect would achieve the same thing if featured in the scene.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Help with a tricky sequence

                Originally posted by TigerFang View Post
                "Regardless of whether you indicate music or not, the one thing you should not do (except in rare situations) is pick specific songs. Professional reader Allan Heifetz provides the following bad example:

                Durden's coffin is lowered into the ground
                as Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn-
                gives the scene a sad, introspective mood.

                The above will not make a producer drool with excitement. Unless you own the rights to the songs you want used, you are usually creating a no-win situation for yourself and a possible legal hurdle for anyone interested in buying the script.- *

                *(From: Trottier, David. "The Screenwriter's Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script- (Kindle Locations 4122-4127). Silman-James Press. Kindle Edition.)

                The emphasis here is on creating a legal hurdle for yourself. Why do that? Besides that all-important consideration, the inclusion of a specific song is often a red flag that the screenwriter is new to the craft. It's one of the many things that gives a reader a big, fat clue that you're an inexperienced writer and may change their outlook on the script to lead them to stop reading altogether or to ultimately say "Pass.-

                The professional writer's approach is to imply (not specify) the need for music through the good writing of Description, Action, and Dialogue. The music professionals, editor, and director will know very well how and when to apply music to your scene.

                If you must say there's music in the background, at least be general about it, such as "Over the radio, a ROCK SONG plays,- or "Fast-paced CLASSICAL MUSIC VIOLINS lend pace to the (character's) harried motions.- Again, buy one of those two books I recommended, read them, and apply their basic tenets to your screenwriting. You'll save yourself a lot of time getting better as a screenwriter.

                Maybe after you've sold the screenplay they may ask what song you were considering when you wrote the scene. On the other hand, they may not. More than likely, they'll already have in mind what song they want to use if they want to use any song at all.

                On top of all that, ask yourself the question, "Can the scene stand alone without the music?- If not, then is the scene really even necessary? Is it just there because of the song? If there was no music at all in the film's budget, how would you write the scene to its greatest effectiveness? The music must be inherent in the Description, Action, and Character Dialogue. Your writing must be the music.

                In the meantime, Mikey, it's best if you find another way to convey the same thing.
                A couple things --

                First, I believe that the original poster is describing a song being played by one of the characters, so it's rather different from the above, in which the screenwriter is making suggestions about the soundtrack rather than about what a character is doing.

                Second, within that context (that is, something within the world of the story) if you have to make a choice between being general or generic and specific, it's usually better to be specific. A particular town, a particular cigarette, a particular breed of dog. That doesn't mean loading up a scene with details. It means choosing the right handful of details to give the reader a sense of the time and place and characters. Defining details.

                Third, it's perfectly fine and I don't think anybody is going to balk at the prospect of diagetic music or sounds running from one scene over subsequent scenes any more than they'd balk at dialogue running off-screen from one scene over subsequent scenes. It happens all the time.

                As for the original poster's question, it really isn't something that you need to overthink -- just put at the beginning of each new block of text, on it's own line -- "the sound of Guinevere singing and playing the guitar continues in VO" or something along those lines. And when the song ends, you just write, "...Guinevere's song comes to an end as..." and then whatever happens.

                Again, it's not rocket science. Just try to keep it simple so that a reader can easily understand what he'd be seeing if he were watching the movie.

                And yes, of course, there are lines that you shouldn't cross, but virtually any line that somebody insists shouldn't be crossed, you can probably find somebody who crossed it successfully in script (and no, no a thousand times no -- it "wasn't" in that mythical beast a "shooting script") and made it work.

                Most of those "don'ts" are rules of thumb offered up, and rightly so, to beginners who don't know how to effectively do the things that they're told never to do.

                But as we move beyond those "rules of thumb" and get under the hood of what makes stories and screenplays work, you realize that you have a whole world of possibilities open to you to tell stories in this medium and that what people think of as hard-and-fast rules are really just warnings -- things that are often done wrong when you're just starting out but in a skillful hand, can be done to great effect.

                NMS

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Help with a tricky sequence

                  Originally posted by nmstevens View Post
                  A couple things -- ...
                  And good points they are.

                  Originally posted by nmstevens View Post
                  ...Second, within that context (that is, something within the world of the story) if you have to make a choice between being general or generic and specific, it's usually better to be specific...
                  I fully agree with this, but it works best when everyone in the process understands that a submitted screenplay includes an unwritten subtext - almost a moral agreement - that everything that's written may undergo change.

                  As an aside, to me that means "after they've paid for it", and hence I dislike the concept of "free rewrites" before anything's been paid or otherwise committed to.

                  In this business, collaboration as a principle seems to be accepted by most, but it means different things to different people, and within different levels of the process.

                  But to me, "You pay, you can now play with it"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Help with a tricky sequence

                    Originally posted by catcon View Post
                    And good points they are.

                    I fully agree with this, but it works best when everyone in the process understands that a submitted screenplay includes an unwritten subtext - almost a moral agreement - that everything that's written may undergo change.

                    As an aside, to me that means "after they've paid for it", and hence I dislike the concept of "free rewrites" before anything's been paid or otherwise committed to.

                    In this business, collaboration as a principle seems to be accepted by most, but it means different things to different people, and within different levels of the process.

                    But to me, "You pay, you can now play with it"

                    Everyone in this business, of course, has the right to draw the line wherever they choose, but I don't remember a Hollywood movie where I wasn't expected -- and ultimately didn't have to do free rewrites.

                    Sure, of course, you can say no. You can always say no. But it is now as it pretty much has always been -- a buyer's market. So if they want changes and you won't make them then -- you're gone. And maybe you'll be lucky enough to find somebody who'll love your script just the way it is, or will only be willing to require changes that they pay for -- but I've never met that guy.

                    Okay -- correction. When I was writing screenplays in a week for three grand, I wouldn't do free rewrites (except for maybe a few lines here or there) -- but in those deals, a rewrite was five hundred dollars and basically, they'd pay me for the script, they'd pay for a rewrite and then they'd go shoot the movie or they wouldn't and the whole thing would be done in around ten days.

                    So -- not much time for development hell.

                    NMS

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