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Some formatting questions (1 Viewer)

MSWordUp

Member
This is fron the The Departed script.

From Page 1:
"YELLOW RIPPLES PAST THE CAMERA AND WHEN IT CLEARS WE SEE THROUGH DIESEL SMOKE: A BUSING PROTEST IN PROGRESS. THE SCHOOL-BUS, FULL OF BLACK KIDS, IS HIT WITH BRICKS, ROCKS..."

After two scene changes and a voiceover:
"The neighborhood. 1980s. We won't be here long. This isn't where Costello ends up. It's where he began. Liquor stores with shamrocked signs. MEN FISHING near Castle Island. Catholic SCHOOLKIDS playing in an asphalted schoolyard."

Question 1: I understand both of the excerpts as setting the scenes. Can anyone tell me why the first excerpt was capped and the second wasn't?

Question 2: Why was "fishing" capped? Because it was an action? If that is the case why wasn't "playing" in the next sentence capped?


"N.B.: (THIS IS NOT SETTING THE LIVE ACTION IN 1974; IT IS A HISTORICAL MONTAGE, THE BACKGROUND FOR COSTELLO'S V.O.).

Question 3: What does "N.B." mean?

Question 4: "Live action" appears to be italicized in the script. Why?

"ECU: COLIN'S EYES swerve up."

Question 5: What does "ECU" mean?

Question 6: I understand why "Colin" is capped but why would "eyes" be as well?


I guess that's enough for now. I'm starting learning more about and reading scripts before I really start work on my own so I want to try to understand some of these terms and techniques. Thank you in advance to anyone who can help with any of the questions.

Here is the link to the script if you care to see the context of these excerpts: http://php.warnerbros.com/movies/warnerbros2006/departedfinal.pdf They all came from pages 1-5.
 

Rumrunner

Senior Member
1) I'm guessing because they're considering it an effects shot, which are generally capitalized in Shooting Scripts, which is what you seem to have here. Most spec scripts wouldn't do that; you can, but it's generally not expected anymore. The use of diesel smoke, thrown objects, etc, require special considerations while filming; the capitalization is intended to flag such scenes during preproduction.

2) You always capitalize characters the first time they appear in a script. The "MEN FISHING" are characters of a sort, and the writer has grouped them together under a generic collective name rather than mess with naming each one individually.

3) It's an old latin abbreviation. Basically it means, "take note."

4) Not sure. Maybe because they're expecting the historical montage to be stock footage, and they want the distinction to be clearer?

5) Extreme Close-Up. This would be a camera direction, and, generally, their inclusion is frowned upon in spec scripts -- there can be a time and place for their limited use, but know that you're treading on the Director's toes by telling him how to set up / shoot a shot, as it were. That's another good indication that you're looking at a shooting script, not the script that the writer actually submitted.

6) Because his eyes are essentially the subject of the shot. No hard and fast rules exist, but the ECU is a very tight framing on a subject - in this case, his eyes would totally fill the frame. The capitalization emphasizes that. Indeed, a more common way of writing that, these days, in order to omit overt camera directions, might look more like -

"COLIN'S EYES

Swerve up."

No cam direction, just the subject that is the focus of the shot, capped on a line by itself.
 

Wallmaker

Senior Member
I must admit, Rummrunner, some of this just didn't look to familiar to me. MSWord Up, I agree with Rumrunner, these are much more appropriate in a shooting script. Writing about the camera in a spec script is quite taboo, so you don't have to worry about that. Also, MEN FISHING is just kinda of a backwards way of saying FISHING MEN. It kinda works either way. They Caps these names becuase this is how they appear in the credits. I bet you see the Departed will have MEN FISHING in their rolling credits at the end.

Often, even in a spec script, I will capitalize a close up as if it's a scene deading like in question #6:
() indicates that it may or may not appear

(CLOSE UP ON) COLIN'S EYES

Swerve up.


Swerve up acts as the action under the heading.
 

Rumrunner

Senior Member
Originally posted by Wallmaker:
Often, even in a spec script, I will capitalize a close up as if it's a scene heading like in question #6
Wallmaker's got a good way of thinking about it. Ultimately, from a production standpoint, once the shooting starts, each shot will be taken seperately and treated as if it's essentially its own scene, anyway. So if you really want to lead the the Director by the nose, you do it by breaking larger scenes down into smaller ones where the natural shot is more obvious.
 

Linton Robinson

Senior Member
This is not a matter of a shooting script...it's just the way that guy wrote it and he can get away with it.

The capitalizing of the whole description is meaningless. Don't do it.
Italics mean nothing in particular. Don't use them.

COLIN'S EYES...no reason to capitalize either. Cap a character name the first time they are introduced, then normal type.

MEN FISHING is just his way of saying FISHERMEN or something...it's spotting them. No reason to cap it at all.

ECU is probably Extreme Close Up .... Don't use camera angles or direction in you spec script.

NB might be somebody's inititals or something.

Don't take this script's formatting seriously. The fact that it is a good, and successful picture doesn't help you. Directors and established writers can scrawl out whatever they want. You can't.

DON'T use something like CLOSE UP in a spec script. And sure as hell don't cap what your closing up on.

"Colin's eyes dart upward" is plenty enough, actually. (Nobody seemed to note that "swerve" is a really stupid word for that description)

Don't write CU The knife drips blood on the dock.
Just say Blood drips off the knife.

You learn how to move the reader's eye around without resorting to camera directions. Which you are not using because it's pointless, since you aren't the director.

But again, don't let weirdness in a script like this throw you. Learn how to do it right and realize that some really good writers are doing it wrong. Because they can.
 
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