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camera moves? (1 Viewer)

jamesdemann

Senior Member
Ok can someone help me here, where in the script do I put camera movement, like pans and zooms in and out? I am using final draft, and although it has a macro for shots, there is no shots to choose from, and I am not sure where they go in the script....do they go where Cut to etc goes?
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
you don't!... unless you intend to produce and direct it yourself... if it's a spec script it shouldn't have any camera directions in it at all, as it's the director's job to decide how a scene will be shot, not the writer's...

if you are producing/directing it, you just insert them into the action/direction element and/or wherever you need one...

'CUT TO' is a 'transition' not a camera direction... it's part of the editing process, which is also the director's province, not the writer's... transitions go at the right margin, where fd puts them...
 

Kimba

Senior Member
I believe CUT TO and DISSOLVE TO are acceptable for writers in certain countries - Australia being one of them. However, those transitions should only be used sparingly and only when absolutely neccessary.
 

Rumrunner

Senior Member
Way back when, it was traditional for the writer to put a "CUT TO:" transition at the end of every scene. Then someone figured out that it was kind of redundant -- when the reader hits a slugline, there's obviously a transition taking place. Nowadays, especially in the US, it's simply assumed, and the use of CUT TO fell by the wayside as a result, and while still technically correct it's better to leave it out. Because its rarely used anymore, it tends to jump out when it is, and can mark the writer as a novice. Any more elaborate transitions, such as DISSOLVE TO, FADE THROUGH WHITE / BLACK, CUT ON ACTION, MATCH DISSOLVE, Etc. is really exlusively the province of the Director and Editor.

Regarding the camera directions, mammamaia is right here in that it's best to avoid them at all cost. Once or twice for critical shots might not get your script "circle-filed," but using them often will at best get you marked as a beginner and at worst could be seen as stepping on the director's & cinematographer's toes.

A good writer sets up his description and action in such a way that the interest - and consequently the camera - is going to be led naturally from one shot or point-of-view to the next, without specifically saying so in as many words. If the shot works and is naturally dynamic, the Director will see this anyway and use it.

The other thing is, workable shots are always different on set / location than they seem when you're writing it. Once you're actually filming, whole new ideas and approaches become apparent, and original ideas become obviously flawed. I write a lot of my own stuff as "shooting scripts" with detailed shot direction from the get go, but as soon as I'm on set with a cast and crew I throw half of it out and start again anyway. You've no way of predicting that in advance, so really it's best to avoid camera directions from the get go.

For reference sake, however, the "standard" formating for camera direction is to give it its own line, all caps for the actual camera activity, justified left like the action:

MCU of the DIRECTOR, SMOKE pouring from his ears as he hurls the SCRIPT into...

PULL BACK to REVEAL the WASTEBASKET, rocking slightly from the impact of the thick wad of papers.

Cheers,
Rumrunner
 

Linton Robinson

Senior Member
This is confusing for beginning scriptwriters because you get books that are full of camera angles and cool direction format terms, but in fact you don't use them in spec scripts you send to try to break in.

And of course don't need them in scripts you write for yourself.

A SHOOTING SCRIPT has those things, along with al the scenes numbered and the gizmos. But you needn't be concerned with that.

Fortunately none of it is necessary. Most of what you want to say about shots and blocking is not really part of the story and not up to you to dictate. Because, admit it, who the hell are you in the scheme of things?

What you DO need to get across...and it's a good thing to make SURE you need to. You NEVER need to communicate a Smash Cut. Or CUT TO, because, how the hell else are they going to get to the next scene...you handle by writing.

CU can be important. We need to know that she telephone fell off the dock unseen. So instead of
CU
Telephone slips of the dock

You write...get ready, this is techincally challenging.
Behind her the cell phone slips of the dock into the water.

He's pretending to be upset, but his face reveals his pleasure in Joe's death.
No CU shot needed.

Seen from high above, Sunnyvale looks like a model community, with...

Approaching the castle reveals that decay has set in.

See, you just write in what you need and skip the rest. Trying to tell them what to do in order to make your masterpiece come out just like your inspired, golden vision is the surest mark of a newbie and a quick excuse for people who are basically scanning your script looking for a reason to shred it and move on to the next one.

Depressing, huh?
 

jamesdemann

Senior Member
cheers for that, I think I read something about it somewhere before, but couldn't be sure. So basically anything that I think is kinda an essential camera move, like a pan across a crowd before focusing on an established character should be mentioned in the "Action" portion of the screenplay?
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
. So basically anything that I think is kinda an essential camera move, like a pan across a crowd before focusing on an established character should be mentioned in the "Action" portion of the screenplay?

...you can indicate that the crowd is there and being seen, before the character appears in the scene, but not as a 'pan' or any other camera direction... that is up to the director only... you could write it like this:

EXT. TOWN PLAZA - DAY

A happy crowd of PEASANTS mills around the central fountain. John appears off to the left, uses the food stalls as cover and makes his way to the church steps.

that way, you are letting us know that the crowd is seen first and then the main character is to be focused on, as he does whatever it is you want him to do... but you don't have to use a verboten camera direction to do it...

that's the way you should treat anything you might be tempted to stick one in for... do it clearly and sparely, with description, instead of with an all-caps specific direction...
 
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mammamaia

Senior Member
sorry, but all who appear in the film can and should be in all-caps when first seen, so the director and producer can easily see what casting is needed...
 

Rumrunner

Senior Member
Originally posted by mammamaia:
all who appear in the film can and should be in all-caps when first seen

I'm inclined to agree with this. It's not essential, and it's not going to make much of a difference to the initial Readers, but if your script ever moves beyond the "Spec" stage, the poor SOB who has to do the initial "breakdown" (a step in the budgeting process) will thank you for this. Capitalizing of SFX and FX is neither here nor there; some companies prefer it, some don't.
 

Linton Robinson

Senior Member
NO, as a matter of fact. That applies to credit listed characters. Crowd, a million zulus, whatever are not capped. They don't get credited, they don't get caps.

Not a big deal, particularly, but that's the current thinking of spec scripts (current being the usual 5 Hollywood minutes)
 

Linton Robinson

Senior Member
Peripheral to that... I often advise people to keep the final credits in mind when naming incidental characters. You think about if and you you realize you don't see cast listed for THE OTHER COP or THE CROWD or DARK FIGURE so you figure out names that do work like COP #2 or YOUNG COP or whatever. The dark figure usually has a name anyway, so you use it...are you really going to surprise a script reader with a revelation later on?
 

Kimba

Senior Member
I think, in terms of casting, it's useful to give all characters names anyway even if they aren't speaking roles. It makes it easier to double up on the use of extras and avoid confusion regarding who's who. I'm not sure if that's the job of the writer or the director but it is something my director has request I do for my first feature.
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
It makes it easier to double up on the use of extras and avoid confusion regarding who's who.

exactly, kimba!... and that's why i recommend using caps for all who appear in the film, regardless of what some may consider the 'current' thinking... imo, doing it won't count against you, while not doing it might...
 

Nicco

Senior Member
I was told you should never include camera direction unless it is absolutely necessary to get that part of the story across. Directors don't like being told what to do.

BTW, I was also told that you should try to be a little on the vague side in your character descriptions so you don't limit who they are able to cast in the role too much, and miss out on really phenomenal talent. So unless your story is dependent on a character being 5'9-1/2", have blond hair, green eyes, and a cleft chin, don't be that specific. :)
 

Mr Sci Fi

Senior Member
No camera directions. Shots are written into the shooting script. You are the writer and the lowest in the chain of command next to the Production Assistant, who brings Coffee to the director after each take and pampers the stars.

(During the filming of Invincible, which was nearly 100 degrees that day, I watched as the Production Assistant spritzed Mark Whalberg with a spray bottle and patted his head with a towel. Exciting job.)

However, I've seen plenty of transitions included in the script, but mainly as a distinction between scenes without tags.

Character description depends on the importance of the character reflecting a specific appearance. I wouldn't go so much for eye color or hair styles, but build and manner of dress are important.

Your leads are going to be two gorgeous Hollywood bombshells, your comic relief a bit on the goofy side, and your supporting cast a mix of primpy A-Lists and average looking character actors.

But this is Hollywood. It obviously differs in independant film. This is just through my personal experience in the film industry.
 
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