Screenwriting : Use of ‘Continuous’ in script by Alexis Guthrie

Alexis Guthrie

Use of ‘Continuous’ in script

Hello! I am in the process of tweaking a screenplay. I have a question about the use of the Continuous slug. There are many scenes that are part of the same sequence, but they have a Flashback moment in it. Because both the Flashback and the return scenes are treated as separate scenes, is it appropriate to use continuous on the scene that is back in the present? Ex. Scene 1 Living Room - Day, Scene 2 Flashback, Scene 3 Living Room - Day or Continuous because it’s the same place as Scene 1, but clearly after the Flashback?

Bo. R. R. Tolkien

what I do is write FLASHBACK, then when the flashback ends, I write END FLASHBACK.

Pierre Langenegger

Yep, end flashback is okay to use, continuous is not correct in this instance.

Alexis Guthrie

I have used FLASHBACK and END FLASHBACK, so when is it ok to use CONTINUOUS?

Dan Guardino

I hate using continuous so I never use it in my screenplays. I prefer DAY or NIGHT and it makes it easier when doing a breakdown.

Becky Fink

The only time I ever use CONTINUOUS is when the character is moving from one location to another. For example: EXT. PORCH - DAY Becky knocks on the door but doesn't wait for an answer before entering. INT. LIVING ROOM - CONTINOUS Becky sneaks into the living room. Not very creative, but you get the idea. Generally I use DAY or NIGHT as well. I hope this helps!

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

I ditto both Bo's and Becky's comments. I wrote coverage for a while and have to say that I would have found the use of the word 'CONTINUOUS' to end a flashback to be confusing. (I probably would have worked it out and if the script was reading well, would not have counted it against the writer.) END FLASHBACK just seems to me to be a much more clear way to end the FB and so allow the read to flow smoothly. Also I always use CONTINUOUS as per Becky's example, so using the word in another way just might confuse a reader.

Dan Guardino

I agree Bo and Becky's are good. I don't do use continuous for other reasons. I would never use one after a flashback though because you aren't continuing the scene you are ending a flashback that takes place in a different time and probably a different place.

Virginia Brucker

I use an older version of Final Draft--wish I knew how to eliminate CONTINUOUS. It's a waste of space most of the time.

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Virginia - Yes. Assuming you meant using the word to carry the reader to the rest of a scene which goes onto the next page, I have heard from several working writers that you can simply omit that. But Final Draft does have a mind of its own. :)

Pierre Langenegger

Virginia: I think you're thinking of CONTINUED which occurs at the end and start of a page, as opposed to CONTINUOUS which is used at the end of a slug in place of DAY or NIGHT. What version of FD are you using?

Virginia Brucker

Pierre, you are so right. My mistake. I have confused the two. I wish I could have control over the use of CONT'D in my computer program. I HAVE control over continuous. :)

Dan Guardino

Virginia. If you are using Final Draft or Movie Magic you do have control over them.

Pierre Langenegger

You can turn them off by clicking Document on the toolbar then selecting Mores and Continueds.

Harold Vandyke

I concur with Becky -- use continuous when there's a transition from, say, one room to another without a break in time/action. It's usually used when there's a wall involved.

Alexis Guthrie

Thanks everyone for your comments and feedback! And yes, it helped! Just to be clear, I was using the BEGIN FLASHBACK and END FLASHBACK to set that scene apart. I wasn’t using CONTINUOUS as part of the next slug line. That’s when I was using DAY or NIGHT (as Hank suggested). For as much writing as I’ve done, I haven’t really worked on a screenplay. It’s nice to know that I’m (hopefully!) doing something right when it comes to editing and breaking down the script for the project I’m working on.

Harold Vandyke

Personally I never understood why one couldn't use Dawn or Dusk as it tends to clarify things for the reader as far as time and the lighting. It's always weird to see a movie go from day to night, one scene to the next, when you know that that much time hasn't elapsed in the story. (I know, it's a shooting thing).

Dan Guardino

@ Harold. You're right but you aren't writing just for a reader you are writing something that can also be used to film a movie. Keep in mind they won't be filming scenes in the same sequence that they appear in your script and the people making the movie need to know if the scene is a DAY shoot or NIGHT shoot when they do a breakdown and a shooting schedule. If something has to be filmed at DUSK or DAWN then it should be in your screenplay but only if it couldn't be filmed at any other time of day because it could cost a lot more money to film a scene at dusk or dawn if they come back the next day to finish shooting the scene. If a shoot takes place in dark cave where there is no light or at the bottom of the sea you don't use DAY or NIGHT because it doesn't matter what time of day they film the scene.

Harold Vandyke

Dan, I understand that. I just think it should be okay initially and can then be changed when the shooting script is written. Another note regarding the use of "CONTINUOUS": Look at the2007 shooting script for STAR TREK -- it's replete with them.

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Harold/Dan - Try dealing with the issue of a scene at a particular time of day in scene description rather than in a slug line (not just because 'it's the way it's done' or you may alienate a reader). Let's say you have a scene, which you visualize as working best at a particular time of day. Give your reason in the scene description. 'Dawn and Joe the hero catches his enemies with the sun in their eyes so he can pick them off one by one.' (From a scene in 'The Outlaw Josey Whales'.) Or whatever your reason is for wanting the scene set at precisely that time of day. It also allows your director and cinematographer to make a choice which is always a good thing for a writer to do. :)

Dan Guardino

@ Douglas. That is a good way to do it as well. I don't really write for readers so I didn't really think of that.:)

Dan Guardino

It is okay to do it I was just explaining why since you said you couldn't understand why one couldn't use Dawn or Dusk. You can do it if you want to so I am not sure why you said you couldn't do it. I wouldn't look at shooting scripts to figure out what you should or shouldn't do in a spec screenplay if that is what you are writing -- different rules do apply.

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Dan Oh, but they're out there lurking. :)

Dan Guardino

@ Douglas. I guess I am going to have to keep an eye out if I want to avoid them. LOL!

Harold Vandyke

I just happened to see that shooting script. I imagine the original script isn't much different. The whole point is to make the script as easy/understandable a read as possible and I think sometimes people nitpick about things that really don't matter..

Dan Guardino

Harold. I nitpick everything but that's just me.

Harold Vandyke

Dan, that was a general reference. I wasn't singling you out.

Jody Ellis

I've personally never used continuous and to my understanding it is seldom used these days by writers. It's not wrong to use it, just unnecessary.

Harold Vandyke

Hey, if Kurtzman and Orci can do it...

Other topics in Screenwriting:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In