Screenwriting : Script by Roberto Dragonne

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Roberto Dragonne

Script

If there's a scene in which we hear one of the character's voice through the phone, should be indicated as VO?

Pierre Langenegger

A lot of people use VO, I use filtered as a parenthetical

Roberto Dragonne

Thank you Pierre. Thank you Patricia.

Tao Ryan Moua

John Doe (V.O.) OR John Doe (O.S.) (filtered on phone) (Filtered) I started using (O.S.) now, but before it was (V.O.)

Pierre Langenegger

OS is not the correct format

Shawn Speake

Dialogue over the phone isn't VO. VoiceOvers are done by Narrators. I don't have my ScreenWriters' Bible on me - my bad - bad moderator. What does 'the bible' suggest for clarity and the current spec market?

Roberto Dragonne

Interesting observation Shawn, thank you. So it isn't OS either?

Dan Guardino

VO is correct because the actor's voice will be added over the film after the scene had already been shot. Filtered isn't used very often because phone communications is much clearer today. So unless there is a reason there is supposed to be a bad phone connection I wouldn't use filtered.

Shelley Stuart

These days I usually use: CHARACTER NAME (on phone) Or (on walkie-talkie) or (on PA system)... The action setup should make it clear to the reader that the other person's not in the room. The parenthetical serves as a reminder to the reader what the setup is, and helps them envision the action and potential reaction of the characters. It better conveys the movie I want my readers to see. However technically correct VO is, I always read VO as a third party narration, where a narrator speaks over the action in almost an omniscient sense. So I reserve VO for a "traditional" narration VO.

Aray Brown

Yes V.O should be used

Roberto Dragonne

Wow! Great advises and observations. Thank you Laura, Dan, Shelley and Aray.

Jody Ellis

I use "on phone- " as that is how I've seen it in current screenplays

Tao Ryan Moua

VO is only used when a narrator is speaking, a character conveying thoughts or god's voice, and the character is not seen, not talking. I used to use VO, but after a writer pointed out and a careful review, I found OS is the appropriate format. OS is used in phone conversation because the character is talking, but just Off Screen. There are 3 types of phone conversations - the first is where you see only one character talking and never the other, the second is where both characters are not seen on screen, and the third is where you intercut between two people on the phone talking. I suppose VO is okay for the first and second, but not the third one. OS is more appropriate with any indication like "(On phone)" or "(Filtered)" should work.

Pierre Langenegger

OS is not a valid format to indicate a character talking on a phone. OS stands for Off Screen which means the character is on set but not visible to the camera at that particular moment. If the character was chatting on an extension on the other side of the room to the other character on the phone, then you could use OS.

Roberto Dragonne

Very interesting discussion and point of views. Thanks!

Rafael Pinero

Do not use VO or OS, on phone would be correct

Gilberto Villahermosa

Three ways of doing it. No V.O. Ever! See Dave Trottier's "Dr. Format Tells All (4th. Edition) or his Screenwriter's Bible. Two essential tools every screenwriter should have handy.

Gilberto Villahermosa

I know because I just had to look up the same thing!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Voice Over is just fine for phone conversations. Voice Over (V.O.) is used when the person speaking is obviously not on camera; and V.O. is not restricted to narration only. You can set up a phone conversation by using description. For example: The cell phone rings. Bob snaps it up to his ear, frantic. BOB Where is she? You said she'd be here? KIDNAPPER (V.O.) I said no cops. I've also seen the following, which is perfectly fine too: KIDNAPPER (through phone) I said no cops. Or, if someone is on the phone, listening and responding, but we don't hear what's being said on the other end: Bob's cell phone rings. He quickly ducks behind the corner, answers. BOB Yes? (listens) Yeah, yeah. I wanna make him pay, all right. (listens) You're sure that'll work? (turns to phone) Good. I want him dead. You can also use: INTERCUT - TELEPHONE CONVERSATION, and then the dialogue simply follows. If you have a phone conversation happening and you wish to show each person speaking from different locations, first establish each scene, then use INTERCUT. More examples are given in the latest edition of "The Screenwriter's Bible" — the 6th edition — by David Trottier. Here's a quick reference/example I found for use of INTERCUT: http://www.scriptmag.com/features/ask-script-qa/ask-the-expert-intercut-.... I hope that helps, Roberto. :)

Roberto Dragonne

It helps a lot Beth, thank you very much.

Roberto Dragonne

Rafael, Jim and Gilberto, great information. Also thanks for the book recommendation. Thank you!

G.R. Barnett

That's the way I always indicate things when people are on the phone.

Dan Guardino

O.S. should not be used. They aren't just off screen they are home drinking beer or something. O.S. would mean they are somewhere on the set where their voice could be heard while filming. V.O. is used when their car isn't even in the parking lot. (V.O. ) comes from the term Voice Over Film which means they will add the voice to the film sometime after the scene has already been filmed. That is what you would use in a phone conversation.

Rafael Pinero

Rigger Dan

Rafael Pinero

Sorry, Right Dan

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