Screenwriting : What Are Your Formatting Questions by Jess Hinds

Jess Hinds

What Are Your Formatting Questions

Hello Fellow Artists! I am teaching a Formatting Bootcamp in April and I was wondering ... What are the most problematic issues you have dealt with in regards to Screenplay Formatting? I'd like to address as cover as much ground as possible so please speak up! Thanks Guys! Jess

Phyllis K Twombly

I've recently started using Movie Magic Screenwriter. I've yet to come across a way to put in the formatting for something like showing the audience a poster on the wall.

Bob Wagner

There seems to be conflicting information . I'm not sure why that would be. on what to put in scene headings, espcially with regard to time factors (LATER, MOMENTS LATER, etc.) Firm information about when these are needed would be good. Some people who have read my script don't mention this subject at all, and others seem to be highly offended by it.

Norman Ray Fitts

As for the poster without using insert which is a camera call just do this. In the axtion/description say - On the wall is a poster it reads "Damned If We Do Damned If We Don't". The biggest problem I run into is people overwriting the action/description. If you can't see it or hear it don't write it.

Don Patterson

I use Final Draft (have for 15 years). When I have to convert to rtf -- I have all sorts of nightmares in CAPS.

Lanette Ware-Bushfield

By far, FLASHBACKS, have always been a source of frustration for me when formatting my screenplays. I have gotten so many different resources for what is best and what isn't.

Phyllis K Twombly

Norman, thanks for the poster advice.

Frank Wood

My greatest befuddlement about formatting a spec script has been knowing what is flexible and what is inviolate in the industry at any given time. These laws seem to change, and the latest scoop on the legislation has not been easy to ascertain, even though breaking the law can get your screenplay canned. (CONT'D) looks to be losing favor. "Wrylies" seem not only to be anachronistic now but even incorrect. The trend seems to be less dialogue, more action, don't tell the actors how to act, and don't tell the directors how to direct. "The Artist" is a great story in a great setting, but I wonder how much of its appeal to Hollywood was the almost total omission of dialogue. Could silent movies make a comeback? I had a problem writing a montage: either I put in SUPERIMPOSE: DATE, a directorial SHOT, or write something in the action or SLUG LINE that can't be shown. Must the writer continually seek creative ways to circumvent formatting ambiguities? Some of it seems absurd to me. It's hard to bring something into focus when it keeps moving or when two or more experts disagree. Although I have never taken a formal screenwriting class, I would think opinions on formatting would vary somewhat among instructors. Our rejections are not often accompanied by an explanation. Perhaps clearly outlining the difference between a spec script and a working script is in order. Reading a lot of screenplays seems to be the only way to know what's really happening. But, formatting a screenplay properly should not be a military secret.

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