Could anybody, please, enlighten me as to what "off" means in the following excerpts taken from the script for the TV show "Breaking Bad"? (I've also come across the same use of "off" in other scripts).

"Our two scary Cousins glare at Heisenberg. Off them, wrathful and unblinking, their lips moving in silent prayer... and us thinking ”Oh shit. THIS can’t be good...”

He stands chest-high, frantically splashing water at the last few lumps of cash still BURNING poolside. Off our hero...

PAMELA Alright. I usually open with “So sorry you’re here...” (off Sky’s sad smile) Where would you like to begin?

PAMELA And it’s not an apartment, it’s a house that you live in? (off Skyler’s nod) Do you own outright, or is there a mortgage, or do you

SKYLER Okay. I will think about that. **Off the two of them shaking hand**s -- friendly, but strained

Off Walt, staring at him... then lowering his head in assent:

Off her, frustrated and grieving and not allowed by circumstance to even explain herself to her son...

The two slices are carefully mated. Off come the crusts, sliced with a sharp knife.

Off come their Canali suits.

Off these strange events...

MARIE He must have! Why not just say it?! -- Off Marie, left stewing now

Off Jesse, maybe just now beginning to see the light...

2 Answers 2


In the context you've provided, OFF Marie, left stewing now means "this is the last thing the camera sees before it moves off her to the next shot."

These are framing directions to the camera person. Look at the parentheticals:

PAMELA And it’s not an apartment, it’s a house that you live in? (off Skyler’s nod) Do you own outright, or is there a mortgage, or do you...

That means that while Pamela is speaking, the camera either cuts to Skyler so the audience can see her nodding or the camera has been focusing on Skyler while Pamela is speaking out of the frame and then cuts (back) to Pamela with Skyler's nod.

  • and what about this line with Jesse? @LaurenIpsum
    – Yukatan
    May 27, 2014 at 9:56
  • "Off Jesse, maybe just now beginning to see the light..." means that the camera lingers on Jesse's face for five seconds so we can see and understand his expression, and then changes to a new scene. Again, it's an editing/camera direction to indicate "this is the last visual before the next beat." May 27, 2014 at 9:58
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    You can find both the script (Breaking Bad, S03E01 "No Mas") and the video online and compare what is described in the script to what happens in the filmed episode. There are some discrepancies, but many of the "off"s are in there.
    – user5645
    May 28, 2014 at 14:29

In a screenplay, "Off" is an abbreviation for "off-screen" or "off-stage" or "off-camera". Thus, whatever actions are happening, are happening off camera.

Look here for basics on the terms used while writing a screenplay/stageplay/etc.: http://www.screenwriting.info/glossary.php

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    Off Jesse, maybe just now beginning to see the light... - then, how are we, the audience, to understand that Jesse is beginning to see the light if that's what happens to him OFF camera.. it just doesn't make sense to me.. @PraveshParekh
    – Yukatan
    May 27, 2014 at 9:30
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    Yeah, sorry, you're completely misinterpreting this "off." The glossary you link to specifically punctuates it as (off). That does mean "offscreen" or "offstage." This one doesn't. May 27, 2014 at 9:55
  • @LaurenIpsum What I meant to say was by saying off camera was that these are directions for the cameraman. For example, something that is off might be happening when it is not the centre of focus of the camera. Is that a wrong interpretation? May 27, 2014 at 10:24
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    But compare: JOHN: Looked you up online last night. SHERLOCK: And? (off John's expression) What? In this case, Sherlock speaks, the camera shifts to focus on John, we see John make a face -- although he doesn't speak -- and then the direction is for the camera to leave John's face as the last moment in the beat and shift to Sherlock's next word, which is his reaction to John's expression. The scriptwriter is giving direction to the camera without giving Sherlock a new line. May 27, 2014 at 13:34
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    You could also write that second example this way: JOHN: Looked you up online last night. SHERLOCK: And? JOHN: (makes a you-have-to-be-kidding-me face) SHERLOCK: What? This exactly the same result, just making the expression more explicit, although it does not give camera direction. May 27, 2014 at 13:38

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