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Screenwriting : Scene heading by Roberto Dragonne

Roberto Dragonne

Scene heading

If I have a scene that takes place on a different areas inside a house, should I add a Scene Heading for each or can I write "CUT TO" only?

Dan Guardino

No you would use a SUB HEADING. Here is an example of a scene in a bar.

Often a scene does not take place all in one location. For example if you have a scene that takes place in a restaurant and there are characters at the bar, characters at a table and a character in the bathroom, it is not necessary to make a master heading for each location. You can leave out DAY or NIGHT.

INT. GALLO RESTAURANT - NIGHT

Tim sips a beer at the bar. He eyes two ladies at a table across the room.

AT THE TABLE

Ann whispers to Jane and they giggle.

INT. BATHROOM

Mike is still getting sick.

BACK AT THE BAR

Tim flags the bartender for another beer.

Roberto Dragonne

This is excellent Dan, thank you very much!

Dan Guardino

Roberto just in case you don't know you don't need to use CUT TO anywhere in a spec screenplay.

Roberto Dragonne

Thanks again, Dan.

Chad Stroman

What Dan said.

INT. HOUSE

blah, blah, blah

BEDROOM

blah, blah, blah

KITCHEN

blah, blah, blah

BASEMENT

blah, blah, All the dead bodies are stacked neatly against the wall, blah, blah

I would also avoid using CUT TO: in between every scene heading anyways.

J G Blodgett

What everyone else said, unless you are actually transitioning to a different scene and time within the house. I wrote a script that takes place entirely in one location, my house. When I transition to the next day or a time later in the same day that signifies a new scene I will use a new scene heading. But as my character moves around the house in the same scene and time I use HEADINGS as the others stated above.

Roberto Dragonne

Very helpful. Thanks Chad, thanks J G.

Mark Sanderson

All great comments. Avoid CUT TO whenever possible. It takes up precious page space. When the shooting script is created you will change all of those headers like KITCHEN to actual locating headers, but let's hope it get to that point, right?

Beth Fox Heisinger

Well, a well-placed CUT TO can be very effective. Sure, in most situations, you don’t need to use CUT TO or any other transition between scenes—as others have already said Scene Headings (slug lines) or Secondary Headings are enough and clearly signify that one scene is over and we have moved on or have cut to another. Or we are now in a different scene location, etc.

However, CUT TO may certainly be used. If say... you’re ending a scene abruptly for dramatic or comedic or horrific effect. Or maybe the story is moving between parallel action, and you need a more abrupt, dramatic cut. Anyway, CUT TO is yet another tool in the writer's tool box, and certainly may be used. Just know how to use it effectively, judiciously, specifically. For a spec, its use is rather like a powerful spice, too much may ruin the pot. ;) Happy writing!

Matt Bailey

For a reading script (not a shooting script) -- if you are already "INT. HOUSE" you can just write KITCHEN, then DEN, then SINK, whatever. Scripts are more relaxed these days - whatever tells the story on the page

Roberto Dragonne

Thank you Beth, great comments, as usual. Thank you Matt, very helpful.

Regina Lee

Aside: Beth Fox Heisinger , I also use the spice (stew ingredient) metaphor!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yeah, I love that one too, Regina. Lol! Actually... I think I first heard it from Julie Gray. Too funny. ;)

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