Screenwriting : I was just wondering if other writers play out the filming in thier head as they write by Vitale Justice

Vitale Justice

I was just wondering if other writers play out the filming in thier head as they write

I am writing a script and I play the scenes out in my had camera angles lighting etc as I write am I the only one who des that?

Vitale Justice

I am also going to be shooting it and hate to have to hunt for notes later I'am to the point I think I should of just wrote it in book form and found some one to turn it into a script lol but its coming along a bit faster now

Bill Costantini

I think any writer who writes movie scripts should play out the scenes in their head for sure. I think it's important as a writer to visualize what's on screen, and especially for those shots that don't involve any dialogue. Not only do I do that, but I even close my eyes and pretend I'm that character and in that moment of the story and record my first-cuts of dialogues. And if you're going to be shooting it, like you said you are, you really should have a good visual of every single shot in your head already established, or through a storyboard, before filming. And the lighting, like you mentioned. Those components are all a part of the filmmaking process - at least for most filmmakers. When I did a project where I was the writer/director/producer/editor, I loved each one of those roles just as much as I loved the writing. Good luck, bro!

Silena Fuller

Yes !!

Phil Richards

Nope. I'm always watching the movie as I write it. Lighting, camera angles, cuts.

Tao Ryan Moua

No, most writers do it if not all. You're doing it right. Visualization is a very powerful tool. Most athletes visualize before they get in the game or fight. As writers, our fight or game is our script that we will be tackling. But if you're writing a speculation script, you would want to avoid visualizing camera movements or angles (such as wide shot, long shot, close up, high, low angle, pull in or pull out, tracking, etc). They call that "avoid directing on the page."

Craig D Griffiths

That is the only thing to do. Until it is shot you are the only person that has seen the film (in your head). You must be able to assemble it if you want it to be made.

Calvin Bender

I find it very therapeutic to play out the scenes in my head as I write:)

Pierre Langenegger

Yes

Regina Lee

I'm a producer, not a writer. I agree with CJ. Granted, everyone's brain works a little differently. However, overall, we're limited in our human ability to, let's call it, multi-task in our brains. If you're too focused as a writer (and if I'm therefore too focused as a reader) on the direction, cinematography, set design, wardrobe, etc., then we're almost certainly not adequately focused on the core elements of story development that are most critical at script stage. That said, I can't say how/when your mind is going over those details, so maybe it works just fine for you. Maybe your story is already very, very strong in this draft, and you're taking a "direction" pass and sprinkling in some great details in that pass. I don't think one's brain is wired to perform all that multi-tasking in the same pass though. I look forward to CJ translating my post into something far greater than what I wrote!! No joke.

Beth Fox Heisinger

I don't play out the mechanics of "filming" in my head as I write, however I do visualize. I hope to cause my readers to feel something or have a visceral reaction of some kind. :)

Tamario "Marty" Dixon

First thing I learned was how to make people feel something. In the beginning, I'd received certain responses from my writing but none of them were good enough. I could tell my readers were being emotionally moved in some way however, but then again, I could've just been misinterpreting. So I said screw it, I want to learn how to make people cry. I figured it was the one emotion that could not be mistaken. So I practiced and practiced and practiced, read and read and read. I used my girlfriend at the time as my "lab rat" (lol. crude term but you get the jist) Then one day, it just happened. I sat her down. Cooked dinner and waited until she showered--gave her the script and waited. After about ten minutes I saw tears in her eyes and from that point I knew. Thinking to myself, "I got it!". My thinking was that if I can make you weep when I wanted (Desired Effect) I can make you feel anything I wanted. So far, it remains true. As I've pounded on my craft through the years, I've begun to see the movie play out as if I were an audience member in my head and now. it's learning the more advanced techniques that help to tell the story in script form and trusting the process.

Tamario "Marty" Dixon

See Lo (Great name by the way) its not about using people for inspiration for a scene. In truth, when youre creating characters, those characters are derived from many people, not excluding yourself. And I never invest in inspiration. It' so fleeting and temporary that it has become utterly useless in my experience. I just sit down and go to work, regardless of how I feel or what else may be going on. Been that way for a while now. I'm not even sure but, I never deal with writer's block either and I'm not sure if that has anything to do with not investing in inspiration or not, but it helps me to meet deadlines and deliver on time. As the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, wait until someone else breaks it so you can blame them...", er, something like that. ;)

James Kicklighter

I think it is important to visualize. But when it comes to production, if the thing you visualized has been interpreted differently by the director, don't hold onto it. The same thing applies for temp music, actors, etc. Let those images guide you through your writing, but be willing to let that vision evolve as production occurs. Best wishes!

Regina Lee

CJ, needless to say, you and I are on the same page. Thanks for the follow-up post!

Phillip Bastien

Previsualization is part of my writing process. My outlines for my stories are often heavily annotated sketchbooks and Photoshop files that basically draw out the entire plot of the film in storyboard form (which accounts for camera angles, lighting etc) and designs so that I can better describe it in my action lines. I've included an example of the storyboards below. Normally I understand that this may seem appear like an excruciatingly slow process, but I am actually quite fast in generating these boards so this works for me.

Michael Eric Ross

You are not alone. Often before I commit anything to the page, I pre-see the whole movie, especially the beginning and the ending. Nothing beats a thorough outline before you formally begin. But for me, visualization of the whole movie -- right down to the dialogue sometimes -- is a big help. That and jotting ideas down in numerous notebooks and journals (Moleskins are great for this). End of the day, whatever gets the idea out of your head onto the page is fair game, but there's nothing for the page, the screen or anything else without a thorough imagining. Someone said a journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step. For us, that step begins with the movie in our minds.

Aray Brown

YES

Calvin Bender

Well said, Michael!

Alan Knittel

Vitale see my post in Screenwriting this weekend. YES, like Michael I USE PREVIZ extensively before I write scenes that have some logistics. This helps me see on my screen what I see in my head MUCH MORE CLEARLY.

William Martell

I've found that's better than acting out all of the roles in Starbucks and making car noises and explosion noises and pointing my finger at other customers and making gun noises... (I see the movie, then write what I see)

Vitale Justice

lot of good comments and feedback I appreciate it

Alan Knittel

Regina, I generally agree with the multi-tasking issue in trying to be DP, wardrobe, production designer, etc. I admit DO get sucked in to that stuff when trying to PREVIZ in support of better writing. At some point I have to say "enough!" and just get on with writing. I also agree that a story structure outline with some description of what is going on in major scenes is required before even starting to write the screenplay, OR trying to visualize the scenes with whatever tool floats your boat. What "Previz for Writers" does is help one focus on scene continuity and "scene composition". For example, when you attempt to place the props and actors in a storyboard that even loosely reflect what you've outlined in preparation for writing, you see things that writing itself doesn't bring out readily. Maybe your actor is reaching for an axe but hey, you forgot to establish the axe was there when you wrote the intro to the scene. PREVIZ lets you create a "visual inventory" of these things, so that when you actually write the scene, you don't forget what's there, what was in view and not in view, etc. It's a great tool these days, because its digital and you can easily place things you need in or out of the scene. I know that for me, even including the angle of the sun in an exterior shot allows me to realize how shadows are thrown and prompts me to write a little description about that. It helps establish drama in the writing that I may never have thought of. I have to think that producers might welcome the fact that a writer has thought through some of the visual aspects of what is being written in practical terms to support the story and drama of a scene, even though we all are taught that a screenplay is largely a blueprint for the producer/director.

Ilhamsah Dwikurniawan Putra

Camera angles, sometime but I don't write it in my script unless I am sure I'm the one directing it.

David Levy

I generally visualize the scene first, camera angles, etc. If I can't see the angles or action, I don't write it. Many times though if a scene doesn't feel right I analyze it, question it from different angles. Sometimes their voice is louder than mine so I write that one. It's a feeling out process really.

Regina Lee

Hi, Alan Knittel, I'm not saying that a writer shouldn't be sure he can "see the movie" he's writing. A writer should certainly be sure he can see the movie and convey the movie to all his readers via his script. I'm saying that in my experience, our brainpower is finite. If a writer is "spreading himself too thin," AS he is writing (the OP specified "AS HE IS WRITING," meaning in the actual process of writing - not before, after, pre-vizzing, etc.), then I believe the quality of the execution will most likely be compromised. If the writer is worrying about lighting, camera angles, etc. AS HE IS ACTUALLY WRITING, it will "distract" (to borrow CJ's term) from his chief task at hand. The chief task is putting all elements of STORY on the page, not all elements of DESIGN. Again, I admit that I can't say how anyone else's brain works. However, I believe that if one's brainpower is spread too thin, considering all aspects of cinematic design as one is in the process of writing, I bet this multi-tasking will decrease one's focus and ability to put the story on the page.

Regina Lee

To clarify, my belief is about getting the most out of the process. And which process yields the best results in terms of conveying STORY on the page. I'm all for a script that contains design elements that support the story. But I advise against multi-tasking as one is writing.

Bill Costantini

Maybe it's a matter of semantics, or a matter of degrees, but if a writer is writing on a page what others "see", doesn't that mean that the writer "sees" that, too - or at least in theory?

Regina Lee

Hi Bill, semantics, sure? Maybe? But in my personal experience and using the "industry" vocabulary that I know, "camera angles and lighting" imply a very technical, interconnected, physical production mindset, rather than a story-driven mindset (or "seeing" the story), and putting the best version of the story (not design and physical production) on the page. Which then implies that a writer might be giving too much mental energy to physical production and design rather than to story. I'd actually be more open-minded if someone simply said "I picture the movie playing in my head" or "see the scene," which make intuitive sense to me, whereas, the specific, technical decisions - even mathematical calculations - made about how to light a scene, where to put the camera, etc. are a whole other beast and level of complexity. I can only speak for myself, and as stated, I don't know how anyone else's brain works, what their competencies are, what comes easily to them, etc.

Antwon Taylor

I, myself, also vision the story as I am sure most writers do. Even when writing my books I vision them as movies. However, whatever lighting I visualize, I just try to subtley convey that in the script. But it's to my understanding that describing lighting or camera angles in a script in most cases is almost the same as giving camera directions . . . which is a no-no.

Chris 'CJ' Bailey

Hi Guys, hope your all well. I got into acting about 5 years ago through finally deciding to follow my dreams and it progressed slowly from supporting actor to a few main roles in an online feature and music videos. But I am also keen on writing and my school literacy levels were very high and I excelled in literature and drama at school and that was about it. To cut a long story short I want to start writing and I have a few ideas bouncing around my head, a few shorts and a feature length or could be a short series depending on how it goes, but I have absolutely no idea where to start. I have written the basic plot down, characters, beginning middle end etc but that's about it. Do I need to get myself on a screenwriting course or can anyone point me in the right direction for how to get this put together and correctly structured etc. Thanks CJ

Antwon Taylor

Chris, I've found the website Simply Scripts to be extremely helpful, as you are able to read professional scripts to grasp a better understanding for the format. You maybe even be able to find a script to one of your favorite films, which makes reading the script even more fun (in my opinion). This is how I learned the ropes and it has definitely paid off. Here is the link: http://www.simplyscripts.com/

Chris 'CJ' Bailey

Thanks Antwon, I will definitely check that out. Thanks a lot I'll give my feedback after I've had a good look aswell :)

Alan Knittel

Regina, agree. A writer has to have all that worked out before they start writing, just like the story structure and character personality and history needs to be worked out before actually writing scenes. One would bury themselves if one considered all that AND wrote at the same time. I had 40 pages of screen treatment and story and character and scene outline (and yeah, some storyboards) before I even started to write. I had to create that for myself and my co-writer, and it also will serve as a pitch and synopsis to any interested producer. I want to make a finer point to everyone here that is not in response to the insight you've given here. What I take umbrage to in most books about screenwriting, is that a screenplay has now more than ever morphed into a nothing but a sparse blueprint for the director. In other words avoid EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that can even be remotely construed as lighting, camera direction, or "directing" the acting (parentheticals being the greatest sin). For example, is the description of a setting sun reflected in an actor's eyes considered lighting or production design? Is it considered a camera angle? No of course not. It should NOT be the director's choice to eliminate that part of the scene. The sun's glare could have caused an accident, or simply have been a poignant choice that enhances a character that the WRITER needed to convey to the director. It certainly WOULD be the director/DP's choice to shoot that with filters, angles, makeup touches, etc. No writer would even want to convey those details, and it has no value to a script reader...a distraction from the story to be sure. Same with props or costuming. In my screenplay, there is a piece of jewelry that figures significantly in the story, serves as a "forewarning", and is very specific to the character's background. I don't specify the exact make and model for that piece of jewelry, but I DID research the type to ensure that it would be generally available. Was I stepping on a costume designer's role when I wrote that? I gave latitude for substitution. To everyone involved in this thread, and as an example of the extreme "state of the craft of screenwriting" , I recently discovered this article in The Writer's Store: https://www.writersstore.com/the-novel-vs-the-screenplay-a-tough-love-gu... and this in ScriptMag: http://www.scriptmag.com/features/ask-the-expert-writing-not-overwriting... My first reaction was...WHOA! So the sheer volume of screenwriters is so large, that this article would have many of us seriously consider being novelists to get our creative vision passed the armada of creative teams that might completely reshape our VISION and possibly RUIN that vision. Because there are so many writers and not enough readers, readers have even resorted to looking at the pattern of whitespace in a script before they even read the actual content! What has THAT got to do with the story? That's some statement, folks. Scary, to be sure. I'm all for terse descriptions and thin blocks of action and dialogue. I agree it adds to the overall quality of a screenplay. But hasn't this gone a bit too far? We might as well just hand in our outlines and relinquish all creative control if you believe the author's view of the state of things. What permits OUR creative expression to survive passed the script? The answer I believe is to write visual directions in the script that are germane to the story in such a way as to suggest, but not offend, the creative professionals that will most surely enhance the final product. It is part of the "craft" of screenwriting to do that and while it may make the job tougher, overall it does result in a better read and a better script. It's worth doing, even though the need for it might be misplaced. It is a shame that writers are not allowed onto sets, or as a rule are NOT allowed to be creative consultants POST-writing. I have to believe that it would be an asset for any person on the team to have the writer involved throughout the production and available to simply ask: "Is this what you had in mind when you wrote this?" I have been told that a writer who even asks to be a creative consultant in a script deal is viewed as a possible difficult person to deal with. I hope this isn't generally true. I have to believe that most writers WANT to see it through. My co-writer who has been trained for screenwriting, and has been a script coordinator and a reader, knows the balance between cutting overly long blocks of action, dialogue and leaving the 'poetry" of what I write IN my scenes. Not necessarily the "poetry" in the dialogue, but the "poetry" of EVERYTHING in the scene...visual description (scene setting), dialogue, and action. I would like to get other people's opinions on this topic. I think this is an industry trend that needs some careful strategic advice from the more experienced people here.

Regina Lee

Hi Alan K, for what it's worth, I think you really nailed it in a couple clear lines: "A writer has to have all that worked out before they start writing, just like the story structure and character personality and history needs to be worked out before actually writing scenes. One would bury themselves if one considered all that AND wrote at the same time." Writing is iterative, as I discussed above, so it's conceivable this person has nailed his STORY already, and is doing a "design" pass or something. But all at once? Very distracting, I'd think.

Vitale Justice

I actually do have all the characters lined out character Bios typed up for future reference stuff like that and what I ended up doing is writing the scenes and then going back later to figure out camera angles lighting etc I hear that larger productions have some one else to do all that lol

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