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Justin Oakley

Script question

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Hello,

Im trying my hand at writing. Ive had some ideas and I managed to turn one into a script, using Slugline. Amateur...baby stepssimple concept, minimal characters, locations that are easy to access should I choose to film it.

 

Anyway, Ive got another idea but Im not sure how to script it.

 

The basic idea is this:

The shot is holding on a mans face as a phone conversation between him and his wife takes place. Like, we can hear the conversation, but its not in real time. The action is pretty much just the man staring at a point somewhere out of frame, smoking a cigarette.

 

Any idea what language I use to describe this shot in a screenplay?

 

John brings the cigarette to his lips and takes a drag. The phone conversation continues...

 

Or does this require more specific details, letting you know hes not actually talking on the phone in this particular shot?

 

John brings the cigarette to his lips and takes a drag. Off camera the phone conversation continues...

 

Is off camera even the appropriate language?

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Generally you don't.

 

Screenplays don't usually call shots. Sometimes, very rarely, it's done if there's a particular reason to show something, though usually you'd simply say "Person does thing" and the director would be responsible for figuring out that had story relevance and to shoot an insert of it, as required.

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Most directors dislike, and generally ignore, shot specific instructions in a script, unless it's absolutely necessary to the scene. However, if you're writing it for yourself to direct, you can put whatever you like in there.

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If the dialogue isn't being spoken at the time. putting (V.O.) after each character's name usually covers it.

 

You can use a word or two of colour to imply more then he's doing more than smoking a cigarette eg a drag as bitter as his thoughts. It helps the actor and gets any script readers involved. .

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Thanks. Im writing it for myself. So I guess its ok to say off camera, etc?

 

I originally thought about using (V.O.) but it didnt seem right. Its a conversation between two people. And when I think voice over I think of internal dialogue or narration or something.

 

Just for kicks, if I were just writing and somebody else was reading, would I want write the action and then write the conversation separately?

 

Otherwise it would look and feel odd if theres a conversation taking place via phone and Im writing action taking place simultaneously... like a dude swinging a bat or something. Right?

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If the characters are talking at the same time as the shot of the smoking character, but in the same room they would be off screen, If they're not there, it will be VO - you could add below the name in brackets (telephone conversation) or similar.

 

There is a standard layout for film scripts, so.it's best to go to a film script site and download a few scripts. The action and dialogue are in separate blocks on the page. .

 

https://www.nyfa.edu/student-resources/10-great-websites-download-movie-scripts/

Edited by Brian Drysdale

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