8

I'm writing a feature-length movie screenplay - well it's still at the story stage, so I haven't started to write the screenplay itself yet. I have been reading wordplayer and a few scripts to see the structure.

I've got one scene in mind where the POV is really important for maximum effect. I want to describe that the camera should be inside the boot of a car (trunk for the Americans here), pointing back at a character. It's similar to at the start of Pulp Fiction when Vincent and Jules get the guns out of the boot.

In terms of the story, it is obviously irrelevant where the camera is placed. But this is a comedy and the camera angle will make it funnier.

Should I put in a camera direction for this? I don't intend to direct the film myself, so want to do whatever would maximise my chance of selling it as a spec script.

Thanks

  • In a spec script, you do not use any shots at all? That is what a professional script should look like. Also, do you include a cast of character page or not? Finally, I've read that you should not use any continues after a character's name. Is that true? – James Gross Mar 1 '18 at 6:14
8

There are a couple of schools of thought about this. Some say that you can add camera directions for effect, some say never.

Personally, I would say be very careful about adding any sort of direction because it can be a very slippery slope. If you add it once, you'll be inclined to do it again. Start directing and you'll turn off your readers and alienate potential directors/actors. But only do it once and it'll probably feel out of place.

Ultimately, a director is going to make the final decisions about camera placement and angles, regardless of what you put in your script. Any camera angles you spell out in your script are going to be suggestions at best. You are better off convincing them that this bit is funny by showing in the action why it's funny.

I would say do your absolute best to try and describe the scene, sans POV. Describe the sky behind them, the way they are looking down, the darkness of the boot. Give it a few tries and let some other people read through it. If they understand what's going on, you've done it. If not, then you might need to fall back on straight POV. But at least you gave it your best.

4

Writing any camera directions whatsoever is considered to be intrusive by potential readers of your script (be they readers for a production house or potential directors). Try to look at your scene objectively. Does it really need a camera direction in the slug? Or, could one short sentence in the action lines serve to do the same sort of thing?

Once the script is out of your hands you are just going to have to live with what the director wants to do with it. If you are truly interested in writing for the screen you should get used to the idea that even though you picture a scene as being funnier/more exciting/sexier/what-have-you from certain angles, the director might not see it the same way. He or she might even cut that scene to make the movie flow better. Sad, I know.

2

In terms of spec a.c., you are looking to do one thing - impress. The thing is, you're not looking to impress directors or cinematographers. Agents, yes. But before your work gets anywhere near a director it has to go through a script reader. Readers will see hundreds of scripts a week, and the first thing they'll look for is format. If it isn't formatted properly, it's in the bin before they've read the opening line. With that in mind I would get rid of any stage direction. At spec stage they don't care what shot is what or how it looks or how funny it is. All they care about is that you can write in a way that translates easily to those who can't see the film inside your head, i.e. everyone. If you can hook them with solid work, then you'll get them reading. That's your goal.

I think if I could offer any additional advice it'd be this; your work is precious to you, but if you want it to be successful, be prepared to be ruthless to it. 'Kill your children' is a term I've heard a few times with it, and it's accurate. If you aren't directing it and shooting it yourself, others will, and 9 times out of 10 they won't see what you see and they'll butcher it. If you want it made, let them. If you have something you are 100% protective over, save it for yourself and don't let anyone near it. It sounds brutal, and is in truth, but it's a collaborative process, in a more populated way than novel writing I feel, and you need to be able to hurt your baby in order to get it made.

0

Noting the answers of @Joel Shea and @Quinn, I put additional non-story elements in notes similar to footnotes and don't include them when the story is published. That gets such things out of my head so I can think of other things.

0

My understanding from my brief experience in the field is: Spec scripts are first and foremost about telling the STORY. Camera directions necessary to telling the story should be included. e.g 'Pan to reveal'.

Cosmetic or style direction should not be included.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.