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I am writing a script where there are quick flash cuts, where the current present action is then 'captured' in a still photo which is representing a 'highlight' on an Instagram post/story shown for one second, and then it goes back into present action. It's as if someone is going around capturing these highlighted moments. It's meant to be a stylised concept to have this idea of how people on social media only portray 'highlights' of their life and I was wondering how do I format this?

In the context of the script it goes something like this:

INT. LIVING ROOM - SUNSET

She is blankly staring in front of her, clearly uncomfortable

QUICK FLASH - PHOTO

The girl next to her laughs obnoxiously loud.

BACK TO:

The girl bumps Florence in the process, she sighs.

Is this correct and does this make sense?

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2 Answers 2

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You are essentially doing a freeze frame, which is a common technique in screenwriting and filmmaking, even if you want the freeze frame to be displayed in a particular way.

Various sources such as this page suggests indicating freeze frames by writing "FREEZE FRAME" on a line of its own, or if you want to specify exactly what to be shown, put "FREEZE ON...". If something happens during the freeze, such as a character speaks in voiceover, you then write the appropriate voiceover etc as normal, followed by "END FREEZE" or "END FREEZE FRAME". You can look at this excerpt from Goodfellas.

You can adapt the "FREEZE" line to provide a more detailed description of how you want to freeze, e.g. something like

FREEZE ON BETTY, smiling, in the style of a heavily filtered social media photograph.

If this happens multiple times in the same scene or sequence it should be sufficient to say "FREEZE as before".

Some people complain about screenwriters telling other people (director, DP, etc) how to do their jobs, but you can put in anything that's essential to the story.

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If you are doing something unusual, explain it at the beginning. I would use something like what you have written in the question. Give each section a label, for example, 'Email' or 'Still photo of the three drinking together when 18, taken from Scene 5' Use labelling consistently and everything will be all right. Script readers and directors aren't idiots and so can follow something that is consistent.

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