Screenwriting : Screenwriting tactics. by Sandra Mayer

Sandra Mayer

Screenwriting tactics.

I am writing a short screenplay in which the antagonist is deaf. I want to have sceens that he is in filmed without sound. I don't know how to write that in the original screenplay. Would it look something like this? INT. TRAIN STATION - MORNING - SILENCE Or would I just write it in the first sentence of discrption. I wish to submit this screenplay in competitions so want to get it right. Any comments please?

David Betances

I would do it in the action line and let that flow into what we see - your style can determine how you write it.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yes, write it in the description, not the slugline. :)

Dan Guardino

I agree with Beth but it sounds to me like you are telling the director how to film the movie. A screenwriter is only the responsibility is to tell their story not how it should appear on film.

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

I think what Dan is referring to is a shooting script as opposed to a spec script. And he is right. Unless you are one of the creative hyphens out there; writer-director, writer-actor, writer-producer. Than what Dan said and Beth confirmed is the way to go. We are writers and at the heart it is the story we want to tell.

Pierre Langenegger

I think in this case it's important to the story that this scene be shot without sound. Add it in the scene description.

Vladislav Nikitin

Never have seen something like that in a Scene Heading. Try to emphasize the silence in your action.

Emi Sano

Could also be described as his POV. If the character is deaf, then sound would be minimal if non-existent. Check out the movie "The Hammer" and other films that involve a deaf person. They usually have scenes like that in there and the script would definitely help you out.

Sandra Mayer

Thanks for the comments. I will check out some other screenplays. It is very important to this script that some sceens don't have sound. Thanks

Lise Pyles

You can put (MOS) in the slugline. This is according to Dave Trottier's The Screenwriter's Bible, 5th edition (2010), p. 174, where he explains how Austrian director Eric von Stroheim was known for saying "mit out sound" so "MOS" became shorthand in the industry for "without sound." That said, things change all the time and maybe this term is falling out of favor. I used it once in a script and an indie director asked me what it meant. So for me, in the interest of clarity and only if it were critical to the story, I might say "(WITHOUT SOUND)" in the slugline. I agree with others who advise against directing in your script (as does Trottier), but there are times when it's important to the story.

Emi Sano

Also as hard-of-hearing person, I'm really happy to see that more people are looking to add deaf characters to their story.

Kent Rodricks

MOS, which means "without sound," as Lisa so wisely said.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Well, from my understanding... MOS certainly may be used, but in description not in a slugline — per The Screenwriter's Bible, 6th Edition. Example from the book: "Inside, two twenty-something parents, RALPH and SALLY, shout at each other MOS." As Lise kindly explained, this term may have fallen out of favor. To me it seems like giving "direction" so personally I would shy away from it in a spec script, but to each their own. :) The book example could just as easily be: "Inside, two twenty-something parents, RALPH and SALLY, shout at each other. Their words are not heard." Anyhoo, these things are always hard to advise when we don't know the full context or intent of the script/story. Whatever you decide to do, Sandra, I wish you the best with your short script. It sounds great! :)

Anthony Moore

What a coincidence, the current feature I'm writing stars a deaf person. The guy can't hear but he can speak and see exceptionally well which is how he survived the collapse of civilization but none of that isn't revealed until the end. Sorta like "The Book of Eli" but Eli is blind not deaf.

James Banner

Just tell the story not the style. Let the director deal with that, unless of course you're shooting it yourself. Then i would suggest to just write it in the description if it's that important to move the story along.

Regina Lee

Hey Beth, I wouldn't say that "MOS" is "falling out of favor." In my experience, it's a seldom used term as development jargon, but ALWAYS used in production/post. For example, dailies/rushes come in from yesterday's shoot, and there's no sound when you play the footage. If the dailies logs fails to indicate "MOS," then the studio/production team can't tell if it's a technical glitch or if the footage was shot intentionally with no audio track.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Ah ha, yes! Thanks for confirming, Regina. Much appreciated. That was my assumption. Perhaps I should have been more clear. Yes, the use of MOS seems much more fitting for production/post, not so for a spec script. :)

Sandra Mayer

Thanks everyone for their comments. I will rewrite into the description as I belive that the absence of sound is integral to the story.

Regina Lee

fyi, I think Emi has the right solution. I'm literally reading a pilot script now with a beat about a vision problem, and I thought about your sound note. For example: INT. TRAIN STATION - MORNING A train rumbles loudly by. IN JOHN'S POV - Silence.

Regina Lee

And please, no one say that a screenwriting book disdains the format I suggested. This script I'm reading as we speak was written by a writer on a TV show on one of the major broadcast networks, and she is repped by one of the top 3 talent agencies. No one in Hollywood would have lifted an eyebrow if they saw this format. But is it the only format that works? No. William Martell: "There are no rules, only tools."

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Great thread! I learned something new. Thanks all. @Sandra... because you wrote it twice... it's scenes... not sceens. :-)) All the best to you.

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