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I have a scene that initially takes place in the padded room of a mental institution. A guard opens the door, the prisoner knocks him out and steals his gun and starts firing from the room into the hallway. Then eventually the entire scene spills out in the hallway. So to recap:

Scene in padded room Scene in padded room / hallway (character fires gun in hallway from padded room) Scene in hallway (the action spills out into the hallway)

How would you format this in a TV script?

  • Are you asking about manuscript formatting or something else? – TriskalJM Apr 5 '16 at 20:58
  • @TriskalJM script for a TV episode – Ser Pounce Apr 6 '16 at 11:56
  • No, I get that it's a script for TV; that's in the question. Are you asking how to format that? – TriskalJM Apr 6 '16 at 13:00
  • @TriskalJM Yeah, like how to divide it up by scene in Final Draft. – Ser Pounce Apr 6 '16 at 14:55
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    It would be very unlikely for a guard at a mental institution to be armed with a gun. – Lazarus Aug 5 '16 at 12:13
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The thing to remember is that scripts for TV and film aren't (primarily) a method of telling the story. What they are is an instruction manual for how to produce something which will tell the story.

This means that divisions which are almost meaningless in some other format (such as a novel) will be very meaningful in a TV script. Moving between rooms usually means moving between sets. Even if it doesn't, it will almost certainly mean a lot of moving around of lighting and other equipment. This means there are good practical reasons for diving up scenes by room.

If a scene alternates between two rooms, for example, it would be easy to spot that it is broken down into several parts, with alternating locations. Since such scenes would normally be filmed one room (i.e. set) at a time (and thus out of sequence, according to the story), combining them into a single scene in the interests of story flow is problematic when it comes to actually filming and capturing that flow.

So, yes, in your case I would probably break it down into two scenes. Bear in mind, though, that if a significant amount of action takes place in the doorway, there's a chance that a seperate set (or setup, at least) might be used for this (since, if the room and the hallway are seperate sets, there may be no actual doorway which links them), in which case you might want to break the sequence into three parts.

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There a couple of schools of thought, and a 'spec script' differs from a 'shooting script.'

The fight scenes in some of the older Bond movies simply said, 'they fight'.

Essentially, choreography is not the script-writers job - don't focus on it. Key points of ebb and flow should inspire the producers to fill in the blanks - give them a framework their imaginations can work with.

Their blades clashed, all the way up the staircase, Sir Bob had the high-ground and, therefore, the advantage. But on the balcony he stumbled. Sir Dave seized his opportunity. One last desperate swing of his blade. Sir Bob's decapitated body crashed through the railing and onto the ballroom floor.

Sir Dave stoops and picks up the severed head.

SIR DAVE (to the head): I told you'd I'd kill you.

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