Screenwriting : Question re an action line by Rosalind Winton

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Rosalind Winton

Question re an action line

I'm editing a fantastic script and I would like to know, what is the best way to 'show' two sides of a phone conversation, but you can only 'see' one of the characters.

Thanks a bunch

Owen Mowatt

BLAKE (v.o.) - For the non seeing person of course

Come on, ask me something harder.

Kyle Climans

I put (V.O.) next to the name of the character who is talking on the other end.

Rosalind Winton

Right, okay, I wasn't sure if putting (v.o) was the right thing to do. I thought possibly instead of saying (v.o) it might be (voice from phone) or something, so thank you Owen and Kyle, much appreciated :)

Dan MaxXx

Checkout "In the Line of Fire" script. Eastwood's character receives phonecalls from an unknown villain.

Owen Mowatt

Does he? I thought those scenes were INTERCUT from memory. Wasn't BOOTH already established by the time he calls?

Dan MaxXx

Nope, not the setup with the first phone call to Eastwood's apt.

The audience doesn't know Booth's true identity until halfway

Owen Mowatt

I've got my eye on you, Dan Maxx, I'm writing down everything you say so watch it.

Dan MaxXx

Here you go, Owen. First phone call scene.

Pierre Langenegger

I know this comment will earn me another enemy on this site and I'm really not trying to add to the collection but, you call yourself a screenplay editor and, well, I view this is a pretty basic question that a screenplay editor should know. I edit scripts for clients as well but if I didn't and I submitted my script to an editor, I'd really like to know that the person editing my script already knew how to do this.

Amber Greenlee

Focus on the hands. Obscuring the second figure through windows or blurring the focus. There are a lot of camera effects.

Rosalind Winton

Hi Pierre

Good point, I understand exactly what you are saying, but in my defence I didn't say I was a screenplay editor particularly. I said I'm editing a screenplay and I do know how to do that generally, but I'm a literary editor and I edit all sorts of genres from novels, YA, children's books, articles, anything really, as I said in a reply to someone else, I thought of putting v.o, but it didn't feel right and I wanted to make sure. I'd rather ask than guess, get it wrong and embarrass my client.

Pierre Langenegger

No problems Rosalind, I certainly understand you not wanting to make a mistake for your client, 'cause that's really bad for business, and perhaps I jumped the gun a bit here but your profile does state that you edit screenplays and television scripts for S32 members and you adapt manuscripts into screenplays for clients. I don't want to labor the point but it just seemed odd to me.

Charles Rathert

Roseland: A thought: Have a friend standing next to the person you can see. Structure the conversation such, so that the lady we can see, can put her hand on the phone at different times so the person on the other end can't hear her. She then repeats the conversation, in stages, to the person standing next to her. Make sure she uses plenty of facial expressions, depending on the mood, when repeating the conversation to her friend. Charles

Paulette Pearson

Not sure if this helps, but I had a scene like this too. One actor is sitting at his desk on the phone in a conversation. Cut to the next scene with the other actor he's in a conversation with sitting in his desk chair, but looking out the window with only the back of his head visible. This conversation scene cuts back and forth like that. The first actor and the audience never learns who the second actor is.

Steven Michael

I like to have phone conversations only one-sided. For me, it opens up possibilities for subtext. Plus, I like the audience to work for it.

Paul Mahoney

Sometimes I use one character as a V.O. and other times I like to use intercuts to show from both characters points of view. Depends on what works best for the script/characters.

Craig D Griffiths

I am just finishing a script which only has three scenes with people in the same room. It's nearly entirely VO and Intercut. Modern communication methods. People are hardly ever face to face these days, look at us right here.

Rosalind Winton

Wow, thanks everyone, great advice and ideas that I will certainly take into consideration.

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