Writing a Script

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					Basic film terms
       Created by Kate Hallford
             Spring 2007

                Writing it down
• After coming up with an idea for a movie, the next step
  is to create a film treatment.
   – A film treatment is a piece of prose, and is the step before
     writing the first full length draft.
   – They include details of directorial style, key events, and
     characters- they read like a short story.
   – Generally long and detailed.
       • Anywhere from 30-80 pages in length-
           – 12pt Courier New font
           – The Terminator was 44 pages
              Shooting Script

• A written breakdown of
  a movie story into its
  individual shots, often
  containing technical
  instructions. Used by the
  director and his or her
  staff during the
               "FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF"
                        John Hughes

   He walks across the room to his dresser. He opens his
   underwear drawer. There's an old model of a submarine on
   the top of the dresser. He picks it up.

                In eighth grade a friend
                of mine made a bong out
                Of one of these. The smoke
                tasted like glue.

  He pulls out a pair of underwear. He gets dressed as he
• A previsualization technique in
  which shots are sketched in
  advance and in sequence, similar
  to a comic strip.
• This allows the filmmaker to
  outline the scene and construct
  continuity before production
            Basic terms
Sequence: A series of related scenes or
shots, as those taking place in one locale
or at one time, that make up one episode
of the film narrative.
Shot: A shot is the film exposed from the
time the camera is started to the time it is
stopped. (To film a scene)
   Various kinds of film shots
• Establishing Shot: A shot offered at the
  beginning of a scene indicating where the
  remainder of the scene takes place.
  – For example, an exterior shot of a large
    building on a rainy night, followed by an
    interior shot of a couple talking, implies that
    the conversation is taking place inside that
           Basic Film Shots
• Long shot long shot shows the entire object or
  human figure and is usually intended to place it
  in some relation to its surroundings
• Medium Shot: shot from a medium distance,
  revealing the subject from the knees or waist
• Close up: A shot that tightly frames a person or
  object. Most commonly used to frame actors
              Angle shots
• Low angle shot: shot from a camera
  positioned low on the vertical axis, often
  at knee height, looking up.
  – sometimes used in scenes of confrontation to
    illustrate which character holds the higher
    position of power
• High angle shot: is when the camera is
  located high (often above head height)
  and the shot is angled downward
  – It is used to make the character look small
    and also indicate that the character is weak
    or inferior.
  – if the shot represents a character's point of
    view the shot can also be used to make the
    character tall, more powerful or threatening.
        Bird’s eye view shot
• The camera is placed overhead or
  directly above the object or scene.
  – Characters and objects are made to look
    small and vulnerable. A character or object
    could be followed at a different speed or
• Point of view shot: a short scene in a film that
  shows what a character is looking at.
             Deep focus
• A shot where both the foreground and
  background are in focus.

• Overexposed shots: Too much light
  enters the aperture of a camera lens,
  causing the bleaching out the image.

  – Useful for fantasy or nightmare scenes.
         Underexposed shots
• Not enough light enters the aperture of a
  camera lens, causing darkening of an
             Rack Focus
• The blurring of focal planes in sequence
  forcing the viewers eyes to travel with
  those areas of an image that remain in
• A camera movement with the camera
  body turning to the right or left.
  – Short for panorama
• A camera movement with the camera
  body swiveling upward or downward on
  a stationary support.
             WHIP PAN
• An extremely fast movement of the
  camera from side to side, which briefly
  causes the image to blur into a set of
  indistinct horizontal streaks
                         Zoom elements that
•The zoom shot uses a lens with several
allows the filmmaker to change the focal length of the lens
while the shot is in progress.
•We seem to move toward or away from the subject, while
the quality of the image changes from that of a shorter to a
longer lens, or vice versa.
        The value of sound.
• Synchronous sound:
  – Sound that is matched temporally with the
    movements occurring in the images, as when
    dialogue corresponds to lip movements.
    • Sound and image match together.
  – The norm for Hollywood films is to
    synchronize sound and image at the moment
    of shooting
• Non-synchronous sound:

  – Sound whose source is not apparent in a film
    scene or sound that is detached from its
    source in the scene

    • commonly called off-screen sound.
• A type of film music that is
  purely descriptive and
  attempts to mimic the visual
  action with musical
  – Music that blatantly matches
  – Often used in cartoons
     • Steamboat Willie was, however,
       the first sound cartoon to achieve
       wide recognition
               Voice over
• When a voice, often that of a character in
  the film, is heard while we see an image
  of a space and time in which that
  character is not actually speaking.
  – Often used to convey the speakers thoughts
    or memories.
 From the editors perspective:
• Cutting to Continuity:
  – Editing in which shots are arranged to
    preserve fluidity of an action with out
    showing all of it.
• Fade in/Fade out:
  – Fade out is the snuffing of normal brightness
    to a black screen. Fade in is the opposite.
• A transition between two shots during
  which the first image gradually
  disappears while the second image
  gradually appears
     • Dissolves can be used as a fairly straight forward
       editing device to link any two scenes, or in more
       creative ways, for instance to suggest
       hallucinatory states.
• When one picture is placed on top of
  another on a film strip.
               Jump Cut
• An abrupt transition between shots,
  sometimes deliberate, which is
  disorienting in terms of the continuity of
  space and time.
• A transition between shots in which a line
  passes across the screen, eliminating the
  first shot as it goes and replacing it with
  the next one
• A masking device that blacks out potions
  of the screen, permitting only a part of
  the image to be seen.
  – Usually in the iris is circular or oval in shape
    and can be expanded or contracted.
            Freeze Frame
• A shot composed of a single frame that is
  reprinted a number of times on the
  filmstrip, when projected, it gives the
  illusion of a still photograph.

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