There's a running dialogue between two of my characters. However, I am not using INTERCUT and only one of the two characters will be in frame. The other will be heard through V.O..

Now, here's my question. At the end of the phone call, just as the person on the opposite end (the one off screen) is about to cut the call, another person beside him says something, which can be heard by the person in frame.

How do I go about writing this particular piece of dialogue? Would I need to use b.g? Can any of you cite good examples of how a screenwriter tackled this rather daunting problem?

Note that the person in frame clearly hears what was said; so I reckon it has to be put as a separate DIALOGUE at the end.

2 Answers 2


It's been a while since I worked on a screenplay, but I believe the proper format is this:

Fine, I'll see you on Thursday.

(filtered, muffled)
Who the hell are you talking to?

In other words, you just describe what the difference in the sound quality would be. I've also seen it where terms like "over phone" and "in the background" are added in the parentheses (next to "filtered" and "muffled"), but I think those are considered an optional convenience to make it easier to understand what's going on.

I've never actually sold a screenplay, so take this advice with a grain of salt.

  • I would also suggest reading some screenplay. Alternately, research at a local theater / college. They can help with some really finest inputs specific to the context of the story. For e.g. If the scene is intense, you could use additional emotive words. If the scene is very normal conversation, the tone changes to soft-grumble. The tone should be vividly described
    – CKmum
    Sep 6, 2015 at 13:36

The correct way to do this depends who we are watching. Assuming we are looking at Jane..

Jane is on the phone talking to Michael.

          Fine, I'll see you on Thursday.

                       MICHAEL (V.O.)
          I'm looking forward to it.

Jane hears ANOTHER WOMAN'S VOICE close to Michael.

          Who the hell is there with you?

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