Musings from a young Hollywood professional

Have you ever talked to a screenwriter about bad movies? You really should.

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Anonymous asked: why use "RESET TO:" versus "CUT TO:"???

In a shooting script (which really this is the only place where it should be) it is mostly a matter of personal preference and style.

But really, if you’re writing your script, you shouldn’t really use these, unless you are also the director.

(EDIT: Some writers will put these in if there’s a particularly hard cut in a scene to a different location, to emphasize a gag or juxtaposition.  But it does annoy people.)

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Anonymous asked: ok so a scene is a series of shots in one location. "two people eat breakfast together and laugh about last night." and then a sequence is a mini-three-act-story where it started with the two people at the table, then there's a flashback scene of them at the club, and now they're frightened as they open the front door and see the man they stole the car from last night at the club.. consequently, they get beat down. moving on. but each one of those little bits is filmed as a scene. have I got it?

Pretty much.

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Anonymous asked: so I need clarification. if a SHOT consists of a single take (ie: panning down a long street), is a SCENE composed of several shots? (ie: different camera angles (CUT TO or CLOSE) of two people exchanging dialogue inside a house on said street)? If so, is a SEQUENCE composed of scenes? ie: the dialogue, leads to a new scene of them outside, then a scene yelling inside the car, then a scene of them crashing - that is considered a sequence right? which could also be called "the argument" BEAT?

Well, the biggest thing you’re confusing in here is being concerned with shots as a writer.  As a writer, you do not concern yourself with camera work.  That is the directors/cinematographers job.  In general, including shots in your unproduced screenplay is a mark of being an amateur, and will make some hollywood readers put down your script.

(But yes, each scene is composed of several shots, unless it’s what’s called a long shot, though those are rare and difficult to do.)

Each scene takes place in generally one location.  Occasionally scenes will flash back and forth between conversations (Like inside and outside a car, or between two people on a phone conversation or flashbacks), but generally it’s on one location.  It is the scene in the script that takes place at the coffee shop. Etc. 

A sequence is a group of scenes, yes, but it’s better defined as a section of a story. Here is my description of sequences

Beats can be classified into chunks of story, which sometimes/often means scenes.  Some screenwriting professors/people also classify beats as singular bits of action that define the current course of the story, like “Jason tries to trick them into telling the truth” or “They battle”.  It’s a confusing definition, cause everyone defines it differently.

Hope this helps? Again, let me know if you need additional clarification.

Filed under ask anonymous screenwriting screenplay outline outlining screenwriting terms

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Anonymous asked: holy shit beat mapping seems really confusing. is this something most screenwriters do? I think it makes sense. I'm just used to writing notecards with stories, and then laying them out to see how they work together..but maybe thats kind of the same thing? also: whats a teaser?

The notecards thing is pretty much exactly what I do for beat mapping, except I don’t think well with notecards so I do it with a computer doc. 

But it’s the same thing.

A teaser is a quick little scene to GRAB the audience, generally before the opening sequence.  It’s something small, something quick, something EXCITING and interesting that makes people NEED to stay on the channel.

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Anonymous asked: how can you be "at the stage of outlining where I have all the beats down that are going to happen, but have yet to get into outlining the scenes." like .. isn't a beat a storyline? and don't you have to know a storyline by outlining it to make it a beat? I'm lost

It…sorta is the same thing. The beats are the gist of the scenes. 


Like my beat will generally read:

B2 -first visit with bro. Neighbor threatens.


and my scene outline will read:


Sophie, all cleaned up and professional looking and carrying a prescription bag, lets herself in a gated house. The front lawn next door has a friendly dog, she scratches it’s head over the fence.  Knocks on the door, out comes her brother IAN, who is clearly ill, but still cogent. She delivers him his meds, is obviously a caretaker of some sort.  Next door neighbor’s husband, STEVE, comes out and harasses them both, Sophie is obviously tempted to do something, but holds herself in for her brother.

Questions: How does she have a normal seeming life and how often does she have to hold herself back?


Makes sense?

Filed under ask anonymous beat map screenwriting outlining screenplay format