PDA

View Full Version : Location Descriptions



DavidC
March 2nd, 2005, 09:59 PM
Ok, just hit a bit of a snag. I wrote the first descriptions and had a reread when it hit me that both the exterior and interior descriptions are very long. Tried cutting them down to the second descriptions which I think are better just because they areshorter, but want to get opinions on this issue as a whole. Just how much detail should you have in the descriptions of places? I think the problem is compounded because the house in this script is very important and a lot of the script will be based in it. Would it be better to describe it in detail now so that that anyone reading it will know where things are automatically, or leave it and fill it in at each scene as required.

15. EXT. HOUSE – AFTERNOON

The day is beginning to end with the sun low in the sky when Noel, Liam and Eve pull up in the driveway of the house where Patrick has sent them. The house is an isolated one, with no neighbours visible. Outwardly it is very clean and well kept. All the windows are washed and outside walls free from dirt. There is a small lawn at front that has been cut recently. All in all, it’s a homely looking place. Noel gets out of the driving seat and goes to the front door while Liam goes to the backseat and lifts Eve up and out of the back, then goes to the front door too. Noel opens the door and steps aside for Liam and Eve to get in first then follows in, shutting the door.

16. INT. HOUSE (DOWNSTAIRS) – AFTERNOON

The interior is also well kept. The front room is lavishly furnished with bright furniture consisting of a three-seat sofa and two armchairs. There is a stone fireplace that has been set and is ready to be lit at any time, and there is a TV with Sky in the corner. The walls are also brightly coloured and the kitchen, which is not separated from the front room by a wall, is clean and equipped with utensils and utilities, while the stairs leading up are wooden and appear waxed. Again, another image of homeliness. Liam takes Eve over to the main sofa and sets her down. Eve still has the blank, wide-eyed expression on her face as Liam stands up straight and looks down at her. Noel joins him and they both look down at the little girl.

OR

15. EXT. HOUSE - AFTERNOON

The day is beginning to end with the sun low in the sky when Noel, Liam and Eve pull up in the driveway of the house where Patrick has sent them. Outwardly it is very clean and well kept, a homely looking place. Noel gets out of the driving seat and opens the front door while Liam gets Eve before heading into the house.

16. INT. HOUSE (DOWNSTAIRS) – AFTERNOON

The interior is also well kept. The front room is lavishly furnished with bright furniture consisting of a three-seat sofa and two armchairs with a ready stone fireplace and a TV in the corner. The walls are also brightly coloured and the kitchen, which is not separated from the front room by a wall, is clean and equipped with every utensil and utility imaginable. Again, another image of homeliness.

I still think the descriptions are a bit long myself. Again, my main concern is whether to describe now or later. Any and all feedback welcome and appreciated. Thanks.

Ozmandius
March 3rd, 2005, 05:26 AM
Definately way too long. You need to strip out everything but the bare essentials here. Everything else in terms of setting will be handled by the set designer. Also there are a few things out of place.

Here's an edited version of how it should read.


EXT. JOHNSON'S HOUSE- LATE AFTERNOON

A green sedan pulls into the driveway of a tidy two-story house in the suburbs.

Noel goes to open the front door of the house while Liam retrieves Eve from the back seat. They join Noel at the door before going in.

Note how the time of day is abbreviated and moved to the scene heading. No further description about the place of the sun is necessary unless it serves some direct point to the plot.

Also the description of the house is cut down to a just "a tidy two-story in the suburbs". This tells us everything we need to know (I took the liberty of adding 'two-story' since I don't know what the actual layout is). That it is homely and well-kept would be obvious.

Lastly, the independant action of the characters exiting the car and going to the front door is seperated into a second line and also trimmed down. Seperate actions get their own lines for reasons of pacing.

Now a note about set direction. The reason that you don't need a lot of description in your settings is that the Set Director will read through the script and design sets that help to define the characters. They don't just come up with sets off the top of their heads, but instead tailor them to give a visual impression of the characters that will inhabit them.

A good example off the top of my head is 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. In a very short scene at the begining we see Indy packing in his bedroom. If you look closely you will see that the decor is spartan and bare and looks like he just moved in. And that impression that he is hardly ever there is on purpose. That one quick scene gives us a glimpse into his lifestyle since his home looks more like a hotel room than it does a house. Although only on screen for a few seconds, the Set Designers took the time to create that impression so that his later adventures would feel real to us.

Remember, film is a collaborative effort by hundreds of professionals, all working together to create a seemless illusion. But it only works when we all trust our peers to do their jobs and not try and tell them how to do it.

Render unto Ceasars that which is Ceasar's. And render unto the writer that which is his.

So sayeth the lord thy Oz.

Toodles

Pawn
March 3rd, 2005, 01:34 PM
Agreed. As a screenwriter, one has to be careful not to step on other peoples toes. You need to give enough information for the director, set designer, art director etc. to work with, whilst leaving room for their creativity. I think one of the difficulties of screenwriting over other forms of literature is the necessity to concede a degree of control (unless you're planning to direct it of course).

mammamaia
March 3rd, 2005, 04:26 PM
i agree with all the comments... but have to add that placing anything other than DAY or NIGHT in the scene heading is considered a no-no by many in the business... time of day is really best noted in setting the scene... added to the description following the slug line, instead of being a part of it...

and, if it's not vital to the plot, shouldn't be broken down that specifically at all... it's doing the directing, which is not appreciated by the ones who get the big bucks for it...

the writer is NOT in charge of how the film will 'look' but only what happens and is said in it...

also, scene numbers don't belong in a spec script...