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Screenwriting : Help with rewriting my montage by Charles Portillo

Charles Portillo

Help with rewriting my montage

Hey I really need help with rewriting a montage. I'm attempting to write a montage for the first time so how far off am I? I won't burden anyone with the whole page but this is part of it. Two teenagers are getting ready to bake polymer clay coffins. Thank you in advance!

A series of shots all close and teasing. The black clay is set aside on top of the medium sized work bench below. Another slab of black used clay plops down next to it. A small slab of red clay plops next to it. Jack’s hand reaches for the black clay on the table. He separates it in half and gives Nick the other half. Ball rolling into shape. Hands stretch the clay to a rectangular shape. A string slices through the clay, then another slice. A hand reaches for a big slab of used red clay in the corner of a work bench. A tiny piece rolls into a ball spreading out to a very thin line. A piece is placed on top of the black clay, then a small one crosses it. Then it is revealed-- a tiny black casket with a red cross is placed on a cookie sheet among several others. 

Charles Portillo

Let me know if you'd be interested in helping me out once in a while when I'm stuck. We can work out the pay details. I have Final Draft 11.

Christopher Phillips

On the phone, so this is from screenwriting.io


-Noel drags a medium-sized weight. Sal walks by in the background, easily carrying three of them.

-Noel carries a bench-press bar, losing his balance. A few feet away, Sal bends over to examine the bench, ducking just in time to avoid Noel’s flailing bar. Neither notice.

-Without looking, Sal tosses medicine balls to Noel, who jumps out of the way like they’re dodgeballs.

-Sal drags a treadmill across the gym. Noel attempts to do the same, but can’t budge it; his feet move as if he’s walking, but he goes nowhere.


Rosalind Winton

I was taught this way to do it by a Stage 32 script services reader...


1. The black clay is set aside on top of the medium sized work bench below.

2. Another slab of black used clay plops down next to it.

3. A small slab of red clay plops next to it. Jack’s hand reaches for the black clay on the table.

4. He separates it in half and gives Nick the other half.

5. Ball rolling into shape.

6. Hands stretch the clay to a rectangular shape.

7. A string slices through the clay, then another slice.

8. A hand reaches for a big slab of used red clay in the corner of a work bench.

9. A tiny piece rolls into a ball spreading out to a very thin line.

10. A piece is placed on top of the black clay, then a small one crosses it.

11. Then it is revealed-- a tiny black casket with a red cross is placed on a cookie sheet among several others.

Bill Costantini

Hi Charles,

I would not format that as a Montage. I would just keep the action description as is - but I'd break it up into a a few paragraphs, with the last line being its own paragraph.

Usually the shots of a Montage take place over a longer period of time, and convey actions that are pretty independent of each other. It's really not what I'd call a Montage. I understand that there is some elapsed time between those steps, but I'd write it like I described above. I'm sure any reader would get it, too, and not say "hey....that should be a Montage. This writer doesn't know what he's doing. Pass!"

Scott Myers did a good piece on Montage and Series of Shots last year, and you can find it here,. .


Best fortunes in your creative endeavors, Charles!

Dan Guardino

Charles. I agree with Bill. There is a difference between a series of shots and a montage.

A montage is a series of small related scenes, grouped together. A montage example you'll be familiar with is the "falling in love" montage where we see shots of our glowing couple at the amusement park, looking over the ocean, feeding each other dinner, dancing in the rain and, finally... well, you know. Often montages are silent scenes that have music or some other sound over them.

A Series of Shots is similar to a montage but takes place in one location during one piece of time. Think of a chase scene when you see a car racing through the street, then a baby carriage wheeled across the street, then the cop chasing the first car, then the first car narrowly missing the baby carriage and the cop car having to stop to avoid hitting it.

Montages and Series of Shots are formatted the same way:


A) The ship settles on the Washington Monument.

B) Humans are rounded up into Candlestick Park as more

ships land in the parking area.

C) An African tribal leader chats with one of the aliens.


A) Police swarm the Federal Building.

B) Ambulances swerve into the driveway.

C) SWAT teams aim their guns.

Just to note, the first line "Montage of..." is a Scene Heading. The first line of "Series of Shots" is a Shot. The other lines are Action elements. You could just say "MONTAGE" without the "OF THE UFOs LANDING." Whether you add the extra description is up to you.

It's also optional whether you, at the end of a Montage or Series of Shots, add an Action line that says:




If you write the Montage or Series of Shots well, it's obvious when they end, so I would avoid the ending indicators.

Tasha Lewis

See Stage 32 resources.

Doug Nelson

Charles - you're writing a scene there; not a montage.

Charles Portillo

Thanks everyone but someone helped out already. :)

Charles Portillo

Christopher, thank you.

Rasalind, it looks like what I wrote but just not numbered.

Hi Bill, thanks for the info I'll check it out.

Dan, I didn't know that. Thank you.

Tasha, predictable.

Doug, I was thinking of two people doing something with a bunch of cuts. It's like baking a cake. You want to see little bits of the process of how it's made but fast. Think A Nightmare on Elm Street in the beginning.

Danny Manus

Dan and Bill are correct, this is not a montage. it can either be a Series of Shots and you can use dashes or numbers to separate, or you can just write it as separated action lines. Montages are used when its a sequence of events/scenes in diff locations takes place over time and progresses the plot.

Christopher Phillips

There isn't an "exact" way to do a montage. Depends on the point of the montage. It could pivot off of a scene that has already started like surprise guests appearing at the house and then insert Montage of whipping up dinner End Montage food is served. Or Montage of people in different locations getting ready for some event then End Montage as they all gather. The descriptions would be the minimal amount of information to give a flavor of what's important to paint the picture.

Charles Portillo

Danny, thank you for the lesson. I get it now. So what I have are a series of jump cuts. Dashes or numbers, good to know.

Christopher, okay great. Thank you as well.

Dan, I re-read your reply. Great info!

Bill, it's rewritten into small paragraphs like you suggested it be.

Bill Costantini

Hi Charles,


I had started a "Favorite Montage" thread a while back, and here are some of my favorites. There are so many great montage scenes in films, and this is my Top Five, more or less. The Marriage Montage in Up sure is a great one, too. The comedies of The Farrelly Brothers sure have some hysterical ones, too.

1. Cinema Paridiso - Kissing Montage. I just love this movie so much, and all that Salvatore discovers from this epic montage.

2. Battleship Potemkin - made 90 years ago. What a classic. Would you have eaten the meat?

3. 25th Hour - F You and What You'll Do Montages. For whatever reasons, Spike Lee doesn't get the credit he deserves by the mainstream public as one of America's most gifted and important filmmakers. But he is.

4. The Godfather - Baptism/Death Montage. Leave the church, take the devil! What brilliant juxtaposition by one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.

5. Rocky - Training Montage. Those who don't like Rocky/Stallone will think of this as corny or dumb, but when it came out, it made audiences FEEL. And 40 years later, it still does.

Best fortunes in your creative endeavors, Charles!

Debbie Croysdale

@Bill Yeah the particular montage you mention from The Godfather was seriously superb. One of the best ever. Also I agree Rocky montage was cool but in a different way. Not exactly the same intellectual execution or life/death/afterlife ethos but the training scene seriously pricks emotion.

Tasha Lewis

Charles, I mentioned the Stage 32 resources because the browse and lounge icons above cover most topics. This would provide content that will highlight Montage's that the executives are looking for and that will get you the deal. Good luck!

Bill Costantini

Debbie: yeah...that montage is certainly at the top of a lot of people's "Favorite Montage" lists - and many mention the juxtaposition element of it as well. There sure are many great montage scenes in films.

Best fortunes in your creative endeavors, Debbie!

Stefano Pavone

I use a short description of what is occurring in a scene before switching over to the next, usually written to a piece of music which I think suits the montage and the story - for example, one of my screenplays begins the montage with "BEGIN "LAND OF CONFUSION" MONTAGE" to indicate that what is happening within is set to the eponymous song (original Genesis version) as it suits the mood of the story.

Charles Portillo

Tasha, I apologize. Please forgive me. I can't speak for everyone and every time but sometimes we just want answers and/or examples not resources. I don't even know where to find these resources. I see "Script Services" (you have to pay for) if that's what you're talking about. If you had given an example I would've been more than happy to learn from you along with the others. Thanks for trying to help.

Bill and Debbie, I'll have to watch The Godfather was one of these days. Rocky 4's training montage makes me wanna do push-ups lol. There's no easy way ouwwwt. There's no shortcut hooome....

Charles Portillo

Btw years I ago I reached out to Robert Tepper on twitter and told him I loved his song "No Easy Way Out". He thanked me and I asked him if Stallone asked you to do a song for him or did he ask to use it? He told me Stallone reached out to him for the song. And he told me he wrote that song out of the pain he was going through at the time. That's DEEP!

I also told Boy George I loved his music but the f@#$3r never responded so I grabbed all his records and a black marker and blacked out his face, flung the records out onto the street and ran them over screaming AHHHHH!

Rutger Oosterhoff

SERIES OF SHOTS takes place at the same place. A MONTAGE takes place In a wider playingfield



- The....bench below.

- Another slab ...down next to it.

- A small slab...next to it

- Jack's hand reaches...on the table

- He seperates it...other half.

- Ball...shape

- Hands stretch...shape.

- A string slice..Another slice.

- A hand reaches...corner of work bench.

- A tony. ..think line.

- A piece...crosses it.

- Then it is revealed - a tiny. ..several other.

( 1. Problem is too many shots in a row; my max. would be seven. So now - because you want to keep the logic 'flow' of shots - you have a problem; does not seem possible to make one shot out of two.. 2. Do not end with " END SERIES OF SHOTS")

Tasha Lewis

No problem Charles. I post based on what I have learned in my classes with Screenwritingu.com. Most executives are very busy and appreciate it when we value their time. That is why I tailor my responses the way that I do. I'm one of the executives. I can advise and help lots of people with short responses instead of a few with long ones. Most topics can be found using the Search bar above or the browse and lounge sections. Someone else may have already asked your question and provided a response.

Charles Portillo

It doesn't have to be an executive to help. If someone is too busy to respond then it's simple- don't respond. Search bars don't do anyone any good when trying to rewrite a piece, wouldn't you agree? How would I benefit from that? I see you throw out resources in your answers all the time on here. I think if you tailor your responses that are quality over quantity they would be better served. Think of it like regular mail and junk mail.

Tasha Lewis

I use these daily (bing.com, search.pch.com) as part of my research and development (Source Funding for Internship and Scholarship Programs). I win. (Cash, Rewards, etc.) and I donate. (thebreastcancersite.com , just by clicking daily).

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