There are no stupid questions

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/2/2008 5:39 PM

And this is one of them - what does I/E indicate as a scene heading?

Pia Cook (Level 5) ~ 9/2/2008 5:42 PM


Moving between the two

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/2/2008 7:56 PM

Thank you. I'm sure I'll have some more not stupid questions in furture ;)

David D. DeBord (Level 5) ~ 9/2/2008 8:47 PM

You're correct, there are no stupid questions. Oh wait there are. Those are the ones not asked. Those are the ones from which we do not learn. I'll ask them, you'll ask them, then we'll all learn something new.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 9/3/2008 9:58 AM

Here's one - what does MOS mean? (I think that's what it was - couldn't find it anywhere and it's been in a couple of scripts) something Off Screen????

Pia Cook (Level 5) ~ 9/3/2008 10:04 AM

I forgot what it stands for, but it means without sound. :-)

Patrick Sweeney (Level 4) ~ 9/3/2008 10:12 AM

Mitt Out Sound, from a German director's instructions in the early days of Hollywood.

Stephen Brown (Level 5) ~ 9/3/2008 10:16 AM

It's mit out sound (learnt that from Mr Newcomer). Meaning that the scene plays out without sound.

Here's a question;

If the first time a character appears is in a photograph, do you just call her by name or describe her appearance in the photo?

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 9/3/2008 10:49 AM

Only describe what is important and even then try to do it as succintly and powerfully as possible.

Actually, it is my belief that all screenwriting should be that way. It's why I call this site MoviePoet. In truth, I wish more people believed in the connection between screenwriting and poetry.

William Coleman (Level 5) ~ 9/3/2008 11:05 AM

The great movies are always a metaphor for the human condition - therefore they are poetry.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/4/2008 6:15 PM

Another question - if I submit a script and then come up with something I'd rather submit for that month, can I submit over and obliterate the 1st?

Stephen Brown (Level 5) ~ 9/4/2008 6:56 PM

Yeah, you can upload the new script, change the title and the logline. It's all good!

Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 9/4/2008 7:05 PM

That is the beautiful option that Chris implemented a few months back. I can honestly say I must have re uploaded my ATTIC script probably twenty times, ...thank goodness for that option!

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/4/2008 8:01 PM

Okay! I'm entered!

Now I've got another one. When you're counting characters do you count speakers only, or do you count extras as well?

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 9/4/2008 8:21 PM

The character counting question has come up before. I believe the answer is to count all characters, speaking or not, because they will need to be cast.

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 9/4/2008 9:23 PM

Brian is correct. Count everyone.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2008 12:07 AM

So.. when a character is seen as both a child and an adult you would count them as two characters since they'd be played by two different actors?

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2008 12:54 AM

I would guess the answer is yes but I haven't seen this one come up yet so take my answer with a grain of salt until you get an official verdict. :)

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/20/2008 5:02 AM

"when a character is seen as both a child and an adult you would count them as two characters since they'd be played by two different actors?"

Remember CAST does not mean character. You could have one actor play multiple roles, a la Nutty Professor.(Just one actor/cast) Or in the case of "BIG" Tom hanks played the grown-up version while a child actor played him as a kid. (Two actors/ cast of two.)

Therefore, if you have a child actor and a grownup playing the same character but different age, you have a cast of two and so on.

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 9/22/2008 9:45 AM

Rusty is correct.

When you are selecting the cast size, you are essentially telling any potential filmmakers how many actors they will need.

So choose accordingly.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/22/2008 10:30 PM

Another question - in my rewrite of "Helen of Troy" I mention some specific types of characters in the bar scene. If I want a "truly ugly man" do I include him in the cast number, or is the descriptive enough?

And another - Rusty, you said you were used to seeing the "flashback" after the slug. Could you write that out in an example for me? I'm a visual learner.

Thank you both.

Austin Bennett (Level 4) ~ 9/23/2008 12:12 AM

Since a really ugly guy has to play him, and it won't be either actor for Troy or Henry, yes, you count him.

I write my flashbacks like this:


William Dunbar (Level 5) ~ 9/23/2008 1:02 AM

I just saw this topic and it reminded me of something I've wondered about. Do you use I/E for scenes like: inside of a car, which is outside (how about a convertible)?; on a balcony/porch/deck/lanai?; in a tent?; anything else like this?

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/23/2008 2:39 AM

Austin's style works Margaret.

I use:


Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 9/24/2008 7:31 AM

"Do you use I/E for scenes like: inside of a car, which is outside (how about a convertible)?; on a balcony/porch/deck/lanai?; in a tent?; anything else like this?"

William, I use whatever makes the most sense to me. If it is a scene inside a car, that would be interior. A car chase - exterior. If it goes back and forth INT./EXT. is fine. Just make it as easy on the reader as possible.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/24/2008 7:41 AM

Chris is correct.

I/E is very rarely used.

I sometimes use it when one of my characters is inside a vehicle and talking to another standing outside. Or let's say someone rings a doorbell of a house and it is answered by the character inside.

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 9/24/2008 2:39 PM

Since there are no stupid questions...

Chris, if I review every script and enter every contest in 2008, can I have an edit button?


Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 9/24/2008 2:55 PM

Probably not.

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 9/24/2008 3:03 PM

Ah well, worth a shot.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 2/16/2009 12:46 PM

I've got another one. When we're reviewing each month, does each person get a list that's in a different order from the others' lists? If not, are they arranged by order of entry or what? I know how hard it can be to review every single script. It bothers me to think that there are some scripts that might get fewer reviews simply because they're at the end of the list.

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 2/16/2009 12:58 PM

All the scripts are assigned randomly for review and those with the least reviews are assigned first. In the end, they all end up with approximately the same number of reviews.

So, good question, but nothing to fear.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 2/16/2009 6:46 PM

I had a feeling you had it under control. Just wanted to make sure.

Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 2/17/2009 6:28 AM

There are no stupid questions, just a lot of inquisitive idiots. Sorry, I just had to. :)

William Flink (Level 3) ~ 2/17/2009 9:00 AM


Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 2/17/2009 9:38 AM

What are you saying William?

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 2/17/2009 10:11 AM

I'm not sure what William is saying (maybe morse code), but let's try to stay on topic.

This thread is for any and all questions and I truly want to encourage people to feel comfortable to ask any questions they might have about our site, the contests we run, or screenwriting in general.

William Flink (Level 3) ~ 2/20/2009 11:17 AM

Here's a stupid question:

If I were to write that someone sits on a chair, do I write: Pete sits on a chair, or: Pete is sitting on a chair?

I think I know the answer already, but could use confirmation on this before I edit my script.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 2/20/2009 11:21 AM

Well if he is standing and then takes a seat, then you say "Pete sits on the chair." or "Pete takes a seat."

If he is already seated, then "Pete is seated on a chair."

In this case we know there is a chair in the room. In the previous case you might first have to let us know there's a chair in the room.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 2/20/2009 11:25 AM

Why would you need to specify the chair? Unless it's something unusual, like he's going to sit on a cupboard or a crocodile, if you were to say 'Pete sits down' (if he's going to do it) or 'Pete is seated' (if he's already there) then the chair would surely be taken as read?

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 2/20/2009 11:28 AM

That's correct.

But I like to think:

What if it's an electric chair?

Or one with a time bomb underneath?

Or a bobby trap?

Or has a whoopee cushion on it?

I think Pete should better sit cross-legged on the floor.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 2/20/2009 11:33 AM

A bobby trap? Is this something to do with capturing London policemen? :)

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 2/20/2009 11:39 AM

Oh yes! Those hats are very suspicious and the chief implement in a Bobby trap.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 2/20/2009 11:40 AM

I'm glad you cleared that up. I didn't think it could POSSIBLY be a typo. :)

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 2/20/2009 11:42 AM

I have mentioned this many times before, I sacrifice words at the altar of the mighty,

TYPOS = Greek god of misspelling.

All hale the mighty Typos. :)

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 2/20/2009 11:43 AM

Hail, even :)

William Coleman (Level 5) ~ 2/20/2009 11:45 AM

Erroneus, the Greek God of bad high concepts

William Flink (Level 3) ~ 2/20/2009 1:53 PM

Okay, thanks.

I just remembered that in my case it has to do with someone standing. I wrote "stands outside the door", that should be "is standing outside the door", right?

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 2/20/2009 1:57 PM


It's best to use Present Simple Tense - stands - NOT Present Continuous Tense - is standing.

Paul Jaworsky (Level 4) ~ 2/20/2009 2:13 PM

"It's best to use Present Simple Tense - stands - NOT Present Continuous Tense - is standing."

And if you really want to get crazy, say "lurks" outside the door. EWWWWWWWWWWW!

William Flink (Level 3) ~ 2/20/2009 2:25 PM

eeew, Lurks? eww...eeeeew!

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus) ~ 2/20/2009 2:40 PM

I just get Plain Tense when discussing the technical aspects of language.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2011 11:24 AM

Okay. I've finished the corporate video and I can give them a bill as soon as I turn it over. Problem is, when I export the file to media, it ends up blurred.

I'm using Premier Pro for this. Every clip I used is loaded on my computer, but it says that some of the information contained is "off-line." Is that the problem? And, if so, how do I fix it?

I'm not sure what format, preset or codec to use, either. I've been using Quicktime. That's not letting me go higher than 720x576, though, and I'd like this to be high resolution.

Should I go MPEG2-DVD? I've been searching for answers, but I'm getting desperate.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/20/2011 12:22 PM

What version of Premiere, Margaret?

Footage/Sequence settings? What resolution and frame-rate is your sequence? If you just click it, it displays this info above your project window on the left.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2011 12:30 PM


I've got about 6 minutes left on an encoding experiment...

I knew you'd come save me, Rusti...

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2011 12:33 PM

Blurry. Damn it.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2011 12:37 PM

It looks passable when I reduce the size, but they want to be able to burn it to CDs for customers. It needs to play crisp on larger screens.

I only need to get a high quality copy that they can turn over to their media team. They take it from there. I wish now that I could burn a BR.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2011 12:39 PM

1920x1080, 23.976 fps. 48--- Hz - stereo

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2011 12:42 PM

By the way, Warp Stabilizer is incredible!

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/20/2011 1:25 PM

Follow these steps:

1) Select your sequence.

2) File---Export---Media

3) The Export Settings window pops up.

4) Under the format tab select H.264

5) Under the Preset select HDTV 1080p 24 High quality.

6) Make sure both export video and export audio are selected.

7) Click the name of the file next to where it says output name.

8) This'll open a window and show you where your video will be exported to. You can change this and the name of the file.

9) Now, just hit export on the bottom and sit back, let it do its thing.

10) The window will close when the video is created.

11) Check the video!

12) Report back to Rusti!

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 9/20/2011 1:29 PM

I am new to this site and I have a question. I am using Final Draft 8 and I cannot turn off the title page. I have tried prining to a PDF with the option of printing the title page to the "off" position, yet it still includes it. I submitted to the contest this month and just looked at it and behold - there is the title page. Very frustrating!

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/20/2011 1:33 PM

Debra try "save as pdf" instead of Printing to pdf.

Save as pdf, gives you the option to check or uncheck the option to include the title page.

Try it and lemme know!

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2011 1:41 PM

She's cooking now! I'll get back to you when she's done. Time remaining is slowly increasing, so it'll be a while.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/20/2011 1:41 PM

How long's your sequence?

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 9/20/2011 1:45 PM

Debra try "save as pdf" instead of Printing to pdf.

Rustom - I tried that too. I just printed it and scanned it without the title page and resubmitted. Where's there's a will, there's a way!

Thanks! I'll keep trying.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/20/2011 1:46 PM

Debra, how are you creating the title page?

- Document menu---Title page


- Just typing the title on the first page.

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 9/20/2011 2:00 PM

I typed the title on the first page of the script on top. "title"

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/20/2011 2:37 PM

There ya' go!

To create a title use the document menu---Title page.

You start typing your script from the first page. Never type a title on it as Final Draft thinks it's part of your script.

NOW, try it and lemme know! :)

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/20/2011 2:39 PM

So, go to:

1) Document on the top menu.

2) Click Title page.

3) Fill in your info using the nifty template.

4) You can even close the title page window and it gets saved with your script.


Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 9/20/2011 3:35 PM

Rustom - I know how to create the title page, and I don't start the first page with the title. I go directly to the script format. But when I save as a PDF, it doesn't give me the option to NOT save the title page. I guess I am learning the program as I go. LOL

**currently I am at work and DO not have access to my Final Draft to try it again.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/20/2011 3:44 PM

I should've realised you're at work. My bad!

When you work on FD next, could you check and see if it shows you the little box that says "include title page" when you try and use the "save as pdf" option?

Also, FD has a regular save as and another called save as pdf featured separately within the file menu, but you've probably tried that too.

No worries, we'll figure this out!

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 9/20/2011 4:03 PM

lol. No problem. I look at this site to keep my sanity and to get info since I am always thinking of writing. :-)

Bill Clar (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2011 4:15 PM

Didn't know about this thread. *cracks knuckles*

I'm trying to refrain from using ellipses. If a character trails off in their dialogue, can I end it with a period?

Rather than write

I just don't..."

Can I write

I just don't."


I just don't"

It feels unnatural to write incomplete sentences but there are times when a character is stumped or tongue tied.

Basil Sunshine (Level 4) ~ 9/20/2011 4:22 PM

Bill, If the character stops abruptly I put a dash (some use two dashes). If they trail off I use the dot dot dot. I think if you don't put anything it might be interpreted as a typo. A period makes it sound like that's all they had to say. Hope that helps?

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 9/20/2011 5:06 PM

Why are you refraining from using ellipses in places where they are meant legitimately to be used? (Double dashes would be acceptable too)

In your examples, ONLY the one with an ellipse makes any sense!

Or rather, the second one with the period means something different - an emphatic denial. The third is grammatically incorrect.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 9/20/2011 5:26 PM

Why don't you want to use dot dot dots? I use them all the time!

Michael Cornetto (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2011 5:31 PM

There no reason not to use ellipses when dialogue is trailing off. However, I wouldn't say they are interchangeable with double dashes which would be used if someone is cut off. At least that's the way I sort it at this point in time.

Bryony Quigly (Level 3) ~ 9/20/2011 6:22 PM

Didn't know about the dashes thing. This thread is awesome.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2011 7:56 PM

I have officially sold my first corporate video!

They want me to switch out some footage when I get a chance, but they bought it as is today. And they want more.

Rusti, consider yourself adored. I'd pay to visit your kissing booth, but I'm too old for you so you'd only get Mom kisses from me...

(Notice how I slipped in that ellipse).

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 9/20/2011 8:51 PM

By golly I thinks me has it!!! I got my script to save without the title page!!!

Bill Clar (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2011 9:03 PM

I'm refraining from using ellipses because I've been told that actors aren't crazy about them. They don't like being directed by writers. So the rule of thumb is to use them sparingly. How sparingly is what I'm trying to discover. Thanks for the feedback.

Basil Sunshine (Level 4) ~ 9/20/2011 9:34 PM

Sometimes you have to "direct" a little to get your vision across. The actors can always cross things out on their script (as long as it's not a wryly on every line or something)... if the script even looks at all the same by the time it's in production.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 9/20/2011 9:59 PM

Congrats Margaret! That's big! Big, big, big... So what to call you now, Mrs. Director? Mrs. President - because you're probably the president of your company? What to call you?

please don't forget - there are no stupid questions - all of mine are legit:)

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus) ~ 9/20/2011 11:13 PM

I use ellipses when I feel I need them. I don't concern myself with how others may view them - they are a tool to convey what I want conveyed.

I use double dashes for interruptions, whether with action or another character's dialogue.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/21/2011 3:51 AM

@ Margaret - I better start work on that time machine ASAP! I've now had enough mom kisses to last me for a lifetime. ;P

Isn't selling your first video an awesome experience? Way to go!

@ Debra - Do tell, how'd you figure it out? In case a future member has a similar issue.

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 9/21/2011 5:55 PM

Fashbacks - what's the best way to do them? (currently in library without my bible - lol)

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 9/21/2011 9:04 PM

For flashbacks, I'll indicate it in my slugs:


When I come back to the present, I'll do this:


It really doesn't matter how you do it as long as it's clear when the flashback begins and ends.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/21/2011 9:51 PM

Selling my first video is amazing! Now I'm concentrating on the fun stuff.

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5) ~ 9/22/2011 3:02 AM

Margaret, congrats! Must indeed feel great!

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 9/22/2011 11:39 AM

@Zack - thanks! I also have a character that is a psychic and she has visions. How would that be written? Her vision is seen through the eyes of Chad (who is dead) she's trying to see who the killer was.

I did this


Nick Miranda (Level 4) ~ 9/22/2011 4:34 PM

You could shorten that down to:


Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 9/22/2011 4:44 PM

If my character is MAN IN BLACK, what do I write after I first introduce him? Man In Black, Man in black...? --not that I have that problem right now but I always wanted to know that.

Also, what do I do with the phone conversations - is it MOTHER (filtered)?

My last question Is (this is the most important one for me) - if you don't see a person but hear him on the phone (let's say his name is JACK) do I write JACK (filtered) from the very beginning or MALE VOICE (filtered) and then JACK (30), the one on the phone earlier...?

Michael Cornetto (Level 5) ~ 9/22/2011 8:52 PM

The first question would depend largely on your style but I would say it would be Man In Black because you chose that as the character name. You could get away with the other as long as you didn't have a character named Man.

Many people will add (filtered) to a phone conversation but since this really is only needed for production it doesn't need to be there. It's obvious what someone sounds like when they are on the phone, you don't need to tell us.

Unless you have a specific need (like you want to generate suspense for the read) you should always introduce your characters by name before they speak the first time. If you do it any other way then you should have a really good reason, the reader has to see and understand why you are doing that or they will not like it. Besides, when this goes into production any of those MALE VOICE characters on dialogue will be changed to the characters name if they have one, suspense or no.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 9/23/2011 12:18 AM

Thanks Michael!

Bill Clar (Level 5) ~ 9/23/2011 9:12 AM

Sometimes a character recites from a newspaper or printed material. Other times they may recite what another character said.

In these instances, is it acceptable to put quotes around the dialogue?

"Police are investigating an armed robbery at 5th and Vineland." Honey, don't you work near 5th and Vineland?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 9/23/2011 2:11 PM

I've seen quotes used, but a wryly can be employed instead:

Police are investigating...
(to Honey)
Honey, don't...

Quotes work better because you save a line, maybe two like in the above example, but as long as it's clear that the character is reading you should be fine. Clarity is king.

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 9/24/2011 12:40 PM

I have Final Draft 8 for a PC and I cannot get the header to show up in just the first page. I finally got the footer to show the page numbers beginning on the second page, but there isn't a choice to have only the header on the first page. I went to the help section and it wasn't very helpful. Said I just but my mouse over the header and right click to edit and I did that and nothing worked.

Help! :-(

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/24/2011 12:58 PM

What do you want to insert in the header, Debra?

Usually the first page of a script displays no page number. Also, in a script the footers don't show page numbers, only the top left headers do.

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 9/24/2011 1:49 PM

Instead of using a title page, I want to insert the title as a header but only on the first page.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/24/2011 2:51 PM

Since FD isn't a word-processing software I guess the emphasis is more towards keeping it relative to the standards and format of screen-writing.

There's a roundabout way to achieve what you want.

"Save as" rtf, then open the rtf in word and add your title using the header option in word on the first page only.

That should work.

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 9/26/2011 3:13 PM

Thanks! I'll give it a try later!

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 9/26/2011 10:31 PM

Debra - I'll say it before I review one of your scripts - PLEASE don't put the title on every page! Search for "white space" in the threads and you'll see why I say that.

Rusti - I got another job! And they're actually letting me be creative on this one! Not another glorified power point presentation! And it's longer so I'll make more money! You saved my butt, buddy! I owe you...

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/27/2011 3:14 AM

20 more saved butts and there's an official knighthood in it, somewhere...I'm almost positive about it.

You owe me nothing Margaret!

It was all you, your initiative and creativity brought to fruition. All I did was pass on information that is part of my daily working life.

I'll say it again, proud of ya' ma'am!

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 9/27/2011 10:58 PM

so... I just started the whole Inktip thing, but have no idea how to post a script on there. I see something where you have to pay 60 bucks. Is Inktip not free? I think I'm looking in the wrong place...

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 9/27/2011 11:01 PM

never mind. Found it. I don't remember how, but I did :)

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 9/28/2011 12:54 AM


With shorts you can only post a title and logline -- then you wait for requests.

I haven't posted a feature yet, but I think it works the same way, but you might be able throw a synopsis up there as well.

I like InkTip. I've gotten many requests for scripts, so it does work.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 9/28/2011 2:14 AM

thanks Zach. Great to hear.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 9/28/2011 2:21 AM

In fact, I just closed a deal with someone to produce my script "Interrogation." He's done one film and it looked fantastic, also had a nice twist -- which fits nicely with my script.

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 9/30/2011 8:05 AM

Okay question - is it possible to use a real person in a script? I am writing an outline for a new children's story and it involves Lucy Dahl and her daughter Chloe (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and I plan to use them quite a bit.

Would I have to get their permission? My main character is the neighbor of Lucy/Chloe and she becomes friends with Chloe and they go on adventures together.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 9/30/2011 10:24 AM

@ Debra:

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 9/30/2011 10:29 AM

Excellent work with the link to help Debra, Zach!

You get a cookie or a lollipop, your choice?

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 9/30/2011 11:33 AM

Thanks for the link. Okay, I will change that these characters were neighbors of the Dahl family and that Roald gave them an item which happens to be magical. Okay, thanks.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 9/30/2011 1:12 PM

Ah, virtual prizes. I shall enjoy a cookie for my efforts. Thank you, it's delicious.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 9/30/2011 7:19 PM

Hey Zach, did you use the same logline for Interrogation you have on moviepoet, or did you go into a little more detail?

I'm just wondering how much I should reveal in my logline.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 9/30/2011 8:10 PM

I copied and pasted the logline from the MP page.

Just general warning/caveat:
I don't know how features work on InkTip, but I had gotten about twenty requests for the script -- and two non-offer offers -- before making a deal on the script. Don't expect everyone asking to read your script to want to buy it or even respond back to you, which I think is like slapping you in the face -- can't send a quick, "Thanks, but no thanks" email? Most people looking for shorts on InkTip are just like you and me, so while I'd expect a known/working producer or director to not respond, a regular Joe should try to keep those bridges viable. Sorry for the rant.

Anyhow, I have two other scripts that have gotten read requests, but still no bites on them. So I'm batting about .500. But shorts are shorts -- I really have no problem letting someone do their thing with them. If I did, I wouldn't make them available for others to produce.

I'm kind of losing my thoughts today. Anxiety about tonight's results, perhaps? Haven't been drinking, so I'm at a loss...

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 9/30/2011 8:20 PM

Thanks Zach! Your warning was a big help too. Much appreciated.

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 10/2/2011 2:12 PM

I received an email from someone at Inktip regarding my short script. They wanted more information concerning the story and I replied, but did not include the script. Should I have included it with the reply?

What is the standard procedure concerning shorts in Inktip? Would love some help.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 10/2/2011 3:56 PM

I only send a script if they ask for it. If they want more story info, I give them a longer logline or brief synopsis. I want producers to be direct. If they can't/won't ask for a script they can wait.

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 10/2/2011 4:13 PM

Zach - that's what I did. I gave more description and said if they were interested, I would send them the script.

suppose they are, then what? I know we hold all rights to our stories since they are registered with the WGA, but is there a form to be filled out between both parties? I am totally in the dark here.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 10/3/2011 11:09 AM

I always find it funny how writers new to the process are afraid someone will steal their script...

If you're paranoid, go ahead and send them some kind of form -- I don't even know what it would be -- but be prapared for them to then not want to read your script. If you come across as "steal my idea/script and you're gonna see me in court," it's easier for them to move on to something else than worry about if anything they do in the future will resemble your work. This is a business where if you don't put yourself (i.e. your work) out into the world, you fail. And with all the obstacles a writer faces to begin with, why add more yourself?

Think about it this way:
Are you going to ask everyone on MP who reads your entry to sign a form? You're essentially doing the same thing by putting your work on this site for anyone to read. But the odds are incredibly low that anyone will steal your script since there's going to be a "paper" trail that leads back to you at the earliest date.

As long as you have email correspondance with them (which you do) and a copyright (highly recommended) or a WGA registration (not as good as a copyright) there's nothing to worry about.

An aside:
WGA registration doesn't mean you have the rights to your script. It's just a courtesey the guild offerd saying you registered a specific screenplay at a specific time with them. While it's not a bad idea to do it, it doesn't have anywhere near as strong a legal backing as a copyright.

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 10/3/2011 11:57 AM

I am not afraid of them stealing my idea. I just wanted to know what happens next since this has never happened to me before. Not paranoid at all.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 10/3/2011 1:49 PM


After looking up some stuff, it would actually be more likely that they would ask you to sign a wavier for them to read your script -- something that says you won't sue if they make a film with similar ideas to your script.

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5) ~ 10/3/2011 2:13 PM

Debra, before you sign anything, it could potentially be an idea to check with a lawyer.

There are many things to consider; you are the copyright owner so you decide: how do you expect to be compensated, advance royalties up-front, percentage of revenue? (never accept percentage of profit), are you giving them an exclusive or non-exclusive right? Including other rights, merchandising et cetera? Will you get screenplay credits? Tickets to the premiere? Will they be allowed to assign another writer to rewrite the story? Will you still get screenplay or story credits? And oppositely, are they allowed to use your name to endorse the movie after they change the script? (think them turning it into a story endorsing Fascism). Et cetera.

You have to take care that you understand what you sign. "Work for hire" for example means they own it afterward. And you might not know that something is missing that should be in the contract.

I'm probably overlooking a lot as I m not a lawyer myself.

Of course for a short to be made by a student you might be able to keep it simple, non-exclusive right, no upfront advance on royalties, small percentage of revenue if it ever makes money, you get screenplay credit, et cetera (any one on this forum have a standard contract they are willing to share?)

When (not if :-) ) you're successful in the future you need to figure this stuff out any way :-)

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 10/3/2011 3:55 PM

@Zach - all good advice to think about.

@Ayal - wow. This is so overwhelming to me.

Even though I haven't heard back from her, I was excited to know that my logline caught the attention of a film maker. She is looking for a film for a film festival in Vancouver.

I just want to be prepared for the next time. My short is listed on Inktip and that's how she contacted me.

If someone would be so kind to offer advice of what they did when approached, that would be greatly appreciated.

Oh, I did register with WGA but will now copywrite. Thanks again Zack and Ayal. :-)

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5) ~ 10/3/2011 4:00 PM

Debra, forgot to say, congratulations of course! Must be quite a rush :-)

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 10/3/2011 4:12 PM

Oh yes it was! Now and then I would squeal. Thank God my boyfriend loves me! or he'd think I was a nut! :-)

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 10/3/2011 5:24 PM

I've done both deals that Ayal mentioned. I haven't done anything with a feature, but with shorts I try to get something up-front since the backend money is very low.

When making a deal, I always, always, always make sure that no matter what re-writes the filmmaker might do that I am the first credited writer. You need to maintain your "screenplay by" or "written by" credit no matter what. Don't let them slough you off with a "original story by," and they get the writing credit.

While getting a lwayer is a good idea, if you're just dealing with a short you should be fine without one. Just read the contract -- make sure you get a contract -- and know exactly what it says. If you don't like the wording somewhere, get it changed. If you want more profit-points, get it changed. You're negotiating now. And probably with someone who's just like you -- a small-time, independent filmmaker looking for a great script and trying to make name for themselves. In fact, most of the filmmakers I've dealt with have had less experience than me. A lot of them are students looking for in-between semester projects.

If you have any questions about the filmmaker/deal, ask them and make sure you're getting what you want. And, of course, ask MPers. It's all about helping each other out -- never know who might need a writing partner down the line.

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 10/3/2011 9:51 PM

I have yet to receive a reply to my reply (lol) so I am figuring it's a no go. Not worried though. Just shows it happened once, it can happen again.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 10/3/2011 11:21 PM

I noticed that some folks don't use the (CONT’D) when the same character speaks after some action lines. I like this better, but can't make Final Draft stop adding it back in.

Can anyone tell me how to (or if I should) make it stop?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 10/3/2011 11:33 PM

Document, Mores and Continueds... then uncheck Automatic Character Continueds

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 10/4/2011 10:26 AM

Ah ha. Found it. Thanks Zach.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 10/6/2011 9:49 PM

What's an edit button?

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 10/7/2011 9:45 AM

Sorry, this probably seemed out of left field. Brian mentions above:

Since there are no stupid questions...

Chris, if I review every script and enter every contest in 2008, can I have an edit button?

What is this edit button?

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 10/7/2011 9:57 AM

"Chris, if I review every script and enter every contest in 2008, can I have an edit button?"


"What is this edit button?"

Members have asked for the ability to edit/modify their own forum posts. That is not an option here nor will it ever be.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 10/7/2011 10:02 AM

Ah, I get it.
I've needed one of those before. :)

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 10/7/2011 10:27 AM

"That is not an option here nor will it ever be."

Ouch. I think that's the hardest 'no' we've seen to date on the subject of the Edit Button. Darn Chris for providing such an awesome site and consistently providing cool new features to it because that makes it impossible for me to be bitter over the lack of a single function regardless of how much I want it.


Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 10/7/2011 1:32 PM

"Ouch. I think that's the hardest 'no' we've seen to date on the subject of the Edit Button. Darn Chris for providing such an awesome site and consistently providing cool new features to it because that makes it impossible for me to be bitter over the lack of a single function regardless of how much I want it."

Thanks for the kind words about the site. I would like to have an edit button that you can use a few minutes after a post (to fix typos and such). But I'm not in favor of an edit button that you can use at any time. This is the internet and once something is out there, it's out there, and no amount of editing can make it go away. :)

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 10/7/2011 1:55 PM

It's like bad cosmetic surgery in a way.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 10/7/2011 2:23 PM

Okay Mr. 'Botox' Irani. You should know.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 10/7/2011 2:31 PM

I'm going to be the BOT of many jokes now, won't I?

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 10/7/2011 2:46 PM

Arf, arf!

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 10/7/2011 5:10 PM

What if more than one person is interested in your script? I mean they actually plan to shoot it and everything. What do you do? Let both of them shoot it? Should you tell them someone else is shooting this script?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 10/7/2011 6:01 PM

You can grant non-exclusive rights to the script to both parties, but remember that you must give full disclosure to both filmmakers -- especially if one or both wants exclusive rights. Keep in mind that if you've already given someone exclusive rights you can't let anyone else shoot the script until your agreement with the first party ends.

The nice thing about non-sxclusivity is that you can get a double paycheck -- the downside is most filmmakers don't like the idea of another (perhaps better) version of the script out there.

Otherwise, go with who you like more or trust more or know more about or will pay you the most or may work with you again or whatever.

I'm going with the idea that you'll have written vs. handshake agreements. If you're not signing anything you can pretty much do what you want -- but so can the filmmakers.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 10/7/2011 6:32 PM

So do flimmakers in general know to ask if your script is exclusively or non exclusively for them? Or is it our job to bring it up?

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 10/7/2011 7:07 PM

It probably depends on where they're at in their career. A student working on their first project probably wouldn't know to ask. People like some of the more experienced filmmakers here on MP would certainly know to ask and probably wouldn't start work on anything until it was all sorted out.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 10/7/2011 7:48 PM

So is not mentioning an exclusive right considered sneaky on my part if the filmmaker doesn't ask? I don't want to come off as a plaid-suit wearing car salesmen if they start filming but then eventually ask about the rights, and I tell them that since they didn't ask, I gave the script to another person as well.

I've seen multiple version of a single script before, so is it a bad thing. Or is that done in a different way?

Sorry for all the question guys. I really appreciate your help. :)

Matias Caruso (Level 5) ~ 10/7/2011 8:17 PM

"So is not mentioning an exclusive right considered sneaky on my part if the filmmaker doesn't ask?"

If the filmmaker isn't paying for the material, I'd say it's understood that he's not getting exclusive rights over your script (unless you sign a contract that says otherwise).

Sometimes, it's good etiquette to let the filmmaker know if the script is already produced or in production, though. Wouldn't be cool for him to submit the film to a festival and find out about a competing film based on the same script. Personally, I'd rather give the guy a heads up myself.

If the filmmaker IS paying for the material, then he's very likely to ask you to sign a contract that grants him exclusive rights. In this case he'd be the one to bring up the issue in order to protect his investment.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 10/7/2011 8:38 PM

I have a question. What is the very first step in getting a first screenplay by a first-timer sold/optioned, especially if the screenwriter's writing possibly meet the qualifications of a producer?

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 10/7/2011 8:38 PM

Okay, cool. Gotcha! Thanks Matias, Brain, and Zach. You guys really helped me out :)

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 10/7/2011 9:06 PM

"I have a question. What is the very first step in getting a first screenplay by a first-timer sold/optioned, especially if the screenwriter's writing possibly meet the qualifications of a producer?"

Step 1 would be writing the script....

Steps 2-30 steps would probably be rewrites.

Step 31A, send it out and cross your fingers that it's good enough for someone to want to spend their time and money creating.

Step 31B, enter it in a contest with a production prize and cross your fingers that that it's good enough to win over the judges.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 10/7/2011 9:27 PM

Oh, thanks for answering. I know I am far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far away from getting it optioned, sold, or produced. I don't even know how to structure a screenplay. I'm just curious as to how screenwriters get a first sale. The other reason why I was curious is because J.K Rowling had her first story, "Harry Potter," published.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 10/7/2011 10:55 PM

Remember though that Rowling was writing for years before "Harry Potter" was published. And even then, it was rejected like eight times before Scholastic signed her.

There's no such thing as overnight success from the inside. It's hard work and long days, weeks, and months of writing before you feel like you have something good.

It's tough, but I wouldn't be anything but a writer.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 10/8/2011 1:24 AM

"Personally, I'd rather give the guy a heads up myself."

poor JeanPierre, he only asked a question.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 10/8/2011 1:55 AM

The thing is, you never know who the next "big" filmmaker is going to be, so you want to keep as many bridges up as you can. If you piss off the next Chris Nolan now who knows what that might do to your career down the line.

I'm not saying kiss the ass of every producer/director you sell a short script to, but be honest and professional and 10 years from now you won't be wondering what if.

***The preceeding is not fact nor should it be taken as such -- it's just a point of view***

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 10/8/2011 3:47 AM

I have another question. I'm sorry if I'm annoying for asking too many questions. Are we required to use FADE IN: and FADE OUT in spec scrips?

Dan Delgado (Level 5) ~ 10/8/2011 4:10 AM



David M Troop (Level 5) ~ 10/8/2011 9:25 AM

I really tried to research this but couldn't find anything. If you have the title of a book, movie, song, album, or tv show in your dialogue or scene description should it be in quotation marks?
Thanks in advance.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 10/10/2011 3:55 AM

I heard that it should be in quotation marks, but I am not really sure if we have to do that. I remember the Hollywood Standard book about formation, written by Christopher, stated that it should be quoted. Don't count my word on it though, because I cannot recall on exactly what she wrote. That is a good question though...

I also was wondering if a block of time passes in your screenplay, but it's in the same scene, do we need to use MINUTES LATER or DISSOLVE TO in our slug lines?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 10/10/2011 10:56 AM


I've seen titles in quotes, italics, bolded, and just capitalized. The best bet is to pick one you're comfortable with and only use that technique -- consistancy is king.

Unless it's absolutely necessary (or you're writing a script in the 1940s) avoid using DISSOLVE TO:. If you do use it, it's not a slug, but a transition and should be on the right margin.

Indicating MINUTES LATER or LATER in the slug is acceptable:


One technique I use -- which I learned from John August (not personally, but from his helpful blog) -- is TIME CUT TO:. This is also a transition so it'll be justified to the right margin like a CUT TO: or FADE OUT.

Bill Clar (Level 5) ~ 10/14/2011 10:12 AM

If something jumps out at a character or audience, is it appropriate to use two dashes (--) to cut off the action?


Jan reaches for the cupboard --

-- The cupboard door bursts open as a hissing cat leaps out.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 10/28/2011 2:42 AM

Has anyone heard the terms "horizontal" and "vertical" when writing pilots for something like "Curb My Enthusiasm" or "Dexter", or anything that can be called miniseries or sitcoms?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 10/28/2011 10:49 AM

I think the example you have works, Bill. You're writing just what the audience would see. My only suggestion (for the example, at least) would to be to not repeat cupboard. So it'd be something like:

Jan reaches for the cupboard--

--It BURSTS open as a hissing cat leaps out.

My two cents.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 10/28/2011 5:26 PM

When submitting, how do you choose genres? For example an action or drama that has a funny line or two - should you choose "Comedy" as well?

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 10/28/2011 6:03 PM

@ Khamanna, I never heard of that. In what context is it used?

@Mike, I wouldn't call it a comedy. Like Die Hard 2, that's not a comedy, but it's filled with comedic lines. It's still considered an action movie.

Pineapple Express has a lot of action in it too, but it is still just a comedy.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 10/28/2011 6:36 PM

Russian production companies want you to specify if it's a vertical series or horizontal. The terms are widely used in that market.
I searched for them - as I understand that vertical means one 30-45-52 min show is one story. Horizontal is day to day life, they say.

I can't understand what sitcoms are then. Usually the shows are pretty independent of each other. Maybe they are vertical and horizontal altogether.

I would still want to read some publication on it, wondering if Writing the Pilot by Rabkin tells anything about vertical/horizontal.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 10/28/2011 7:18 PM

I'm with JP here.

Those terms don't exist in US television -- and if they do, they're being kept under mighty lock and key.

Maybe related terms are episodic and serial.

Most sitcoms and police procedural shows are episodic -- it doesn't matter if you miss an episode since each is pretty much stand-alone ("Law & Order," "CSI," "Two and a Half Men," "Friends.") True, there are over-arcing stories through those programs, but they don't matter as much as the crime/situation the characers are involved with this week.

Serial shows ("Dexter," "Lost," "24," "Breaking Bad," "The Vampire Diaries") have season/series-long stories so if you miss an episode, you might not be sure what's happening in the next. Many HBO and Showtime dramas are included here. Network shows tend not to work as well with this structure for some reason or another -- commercials, too easy to change the channel, you're not paying for it why watch it, etc.

So in your case, vertical would mean episodic and horizontal would be serial.

Again, just my interpretation.

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5) ~ 10/28/2011 7:34 PM

There's "horizontal" and "vertical" in the context of consumer products,""vertical" meaning adressing a niche audience, a specific target, "horizontal" meaning adressing a large audience.

If you write aoftware for a vertical market, you write it for one customer. Horizontal market, more broad audience.

Don't know if that is relevant...

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 10/28/2011 7:58 PM

Thanks Ayal - I don't know if it's relevant but it's a good info all the same:)

Zach, thanks - I think your thinking is absolutely on the spot. I had to fill out a query letter for a sitcom and it's probably not my first one. So, I put "vertical" for my sitcom - but thinking it might be a combination as the series are very often connected, also if horizontal means everyday life, then it's definitely a mix. But they want one word on that query and I decided not to make it too clever and stick with "vertical" (it was before I posted the question here).

I see you have vertical for Friends too - I'm probably not so off then.

Episodic and serial may be very well related terms, the thing that gets me mixed up is - there's the term serial as well (in that other market) which means that the series come in pack of 8to32 series as opposed to soap operas that go forever.

Soap operas by the way are easy - definitely horizontal, all of them.

Vertical most probably stands for episodic then. Everything that's episodic should be vertical according to definition of Vertical, and your explanation of episodic.

Horizontal - I understand it but still don't know if Dexter, for example, can be called horizontal. It's not episodic though - each season has to be watched in it's entirety. I guess it's more of horizontal than vertical. It's good I don't have anything like Dexter for them anyway:)

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 10/28/2011 8:35 PM

spot on, not "on the spot"... uh!

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 11/1/2011 10:31 AM

I was wondering if there is a reason that the genre(s) and logline are not visible on the vote page? I realize Chris may not be available to answer, but does anyone else have an idea? I searched the forum, but came up empty.

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 11/1/2011 1:05 PM

"I was wondering if there is a reason that the genre(s) and logline are not visible on the vote page?"

We don't display the logline or genre so as not to influence the reader. We want each script to stand on it's own.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 11/1/2011 1:06 PM

It's so you go into the script as open as possible.

Bryony Quigly (Level 3) ~ 11/1/2011 7:11 PM

I know it's meant to be really difficult to write horror that reads "scary" so I'm looking for horror scripts that are super scary.

Any suggestions?

David Birch (Level 5) ~ 11/1/2011 7:18 PM

i think i'd start with "the shining"...heeerrre's johnny!

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 11/1/2011 10:27 PM

I found this helpful:

Just remember that you're creating mood and atmosphere more than anything else. Be sure to check out all the horror scripts you can -- Simply Scripts has a descent selection.

David M Troop (Level 5) ~ 11/2/2011 5:10 AM

I have a stupid question about rewrites.
After the contest is over and you read all your reviews, etc... many scripts I have read would actually benefit from adding one or two pages to include exposition or an alternate ending. In essence, a Director's Cut.
Are you still "legally" bound to the five page rule after the results are in and you wish to rewrite your script?

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5) ~ 11/2/2011 7:27 AM

David, you are allowed to "break the rules" afterward (well, most rules :-) It still has to be a PDF probably). You can use the feedback you received to make the screenplay even better. Go for it!

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 11/2/2011 11:26 AM

"Are you still "legally" bound to the five page rule after the results are in and you wish to rewrite your script?"

You can change as much or as little as you want in the rewrite.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 11/2/2011 2:21 PM

Are there alternatives to FADE IN: at the beginning of a script? For example, what if I want the opening scene to cut in dramatically from black?

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 11/2/2011 3:20 PM

I usually just but BLACK if I want that effect. I don't know if that's "correct" But I do it anyway.

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 11/2/2011 3:32 PM

The use of "FADE IN:" does not mean that the image has to Fade In, it simply standard screenplay format for the opening of a script.

David Birch (Level 5) ~ 11/2/2011 7:22 PM's an example of what you might be inquiring about...this is the opening for "the adjustment bureau"


The sounds of a large crowd, but muffled, as if we're inside,
and hearing the crowd through a window or door. FADE IN ON:


Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 11/2/2011 8:50 PM

Thanks JP, Chris, and David. I suspected fade in was just standard and I was taking it too literally. Maybe the reason there is no convention for what I was trying to do (in my last entry) is that it's one of those things that is supposed to be left up to the director.

I am also interested in opinions on whether to capitalize non-speaking characters.

Bryony Quigly (Level 3) ~ 11/2/2011 9:03 PM

Thanks for the horror advice guys!

I've always capped my characters regardless of whether or not they have speaking roles and nobody's picked me up on it. I didn't know there was any particular rule but I'd be interested to find out.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 11/3/2011 1:42 PM

I'm wondering what other people think about using stock footage and graphics in a film (as opposed to a commercial product).

I'm experimenting with some animation. I'm drawing most of the images myself, but I've purchased some stock footage that would sure make my job easier...

An example would be a time lapse of a sunset with clouds - I could draw each of the progressive images from scratch, or I could draw the images using the footage, or I could use the footage and add filters and effects to the film to make it look like it's a drawing.

I'm liking the collage effect of altering the video and putting it behind my drawings, but part of me feels guilty for not being a purist here. I didn't shoot the footage. I bought it. Is that a bad thing or does anything go when it comes to art?

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 11/3/2011 1:49 PM

IMHO anything goes. Look at mash ups. I think "not being a purist" is how new art forms are born.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 11/3/2011 9:25 PM

I never knew FADE IN was the standard opening. I always thought it literally meant to fade in from black. Haha.

Ya learn everyday....

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 11/6/2011 2:02 PM

POV - how should it read in a scene heading?

I have:


Is this correct?

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 11/6/2011 5:51 PM

I have a question. How do you use FLASHBACKS and indicate a blocage of tiime?

Do I write something like this:


A WOMAN'S hand grabs a knife from the cabinet. The woman walks into the living with the knife as she stares at a man who sleeps on a couch.



The woman nods her head in disgust. She grabs her purse from the sink, then walks out into her badroom.

Dissolve To:

The woman notices a man, who sits on a bench. She gaps her lips, surprised.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 11/7/2011 2:29 AM


Unless you intend the scene to be from the room's POV, that's not how you'd do it. If someone is seeing the room and you want their POV, I've used the following techniques:


The Forbidden Room...


John's eyes scan


It is forbidden...

Just keep in mind that clarity is king. Make sure any reader can understand who is seeing what and what is being seen.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 11/7/2011 5:11 AM



Forbitten. John stands and looks around.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 11/7/2011 5:12 AM

Forbidden* This is a typo.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 11/7/2011 9:20 AM

I think, though, Debra is looking for a way to show what the character sees. So while


Forbidden. John stands and looks around.

is good/correct, it doesn't show what John sees -- it keeps us (the audience) as a third party voyuer instead of experiencing it as John does.

Bill Clar (Level 5) ~ 11/8/2011 2:49 PM

I'm in search of a verb that means "walk cautiously". Not like Indiana Jones cautiously walking through a trap filled tomb. More like two gunfighters walking into position to draw. They're sizing each other up.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 11/8/2011 3:01 PM

I find this helpful:

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 11/8/2011 3:18 PM

Zack & Reginald -

How about


Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 11/8/2011 3:19 PM

Maddie is peaking through the open door to the room and watching her Aunt on the bed.

David Birch (Level 5) ~ 11/8/2011 3:23 PM

@Debra..."Maddie peeks..."...stay active, my friend...

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 11/8/2011 3:25 PM

Debra, I don't think "POV" belongs in the slug. I might be wrong, but looks the same thought Zach had for you.

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 11/8/2011 3:36 PM

David - that's not a line in the description. I was just telling what I meant. :-)

Okay, thanks.

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus) ~ 11/8/2011 3:55 PM

Debra - in your example I would not use POV. I don't really see the need for it.


From the open door, Maddie steals a glance...

POVs can be written without actually having to resort to POV. You can direct with language rather than direction.

I would use POV for binoculars, spyglass, etc...

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 11/8/2011 4:11 PM

William - okay, that works! I'll make the changes tonight!

David Birch (Level 5) ~ 11/8/2011 6:01 PM

good job, WB...also add "subjective" to POV (when you want to conceal who's actually doing the observing...

Bill Clar (Level 5) ~ 11/9/2011 1:55 PM

Thanks Zach!

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 11/10/2011 10:20 AM

Chris, Would you consider removing or increasing the favorites limit of 3?

Bryony Quigly (Level 3) ~ 11/15/2011 1:39 PM

So I'm filling out the copyright form happy, smiley YES I've done this a million times before and then reach the "has this been published before" question...

So I read the small print and being in the process of still growing my brain out can't work out whether a revision of a short based on something I wrote on moviepoet a couple of years back would count as "published"

Does it count?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 11/15/2011 2:13 PM

I get confused with that part as well. Technically, posting anything online is publishing; but in the same vein, the moment you write something it's copywrited -- so why copywrite, I ask? A digression, but, hey, so's life...

But I think in the case of screenplays, published = produced. And I think with the WGA registry, a screenplay should be re-registered if 30% of it has been changed or altered from the original (not exactly sure with that), so it seems reasonable to think the U.S. Copyright Office uses a similar standard.

So, to get to the point... With screenplays, I always say unpublished until it's produced. But, as always, consulting legal advice is the best route.

Bryony Quigly (Level 3) ~ 11/16/2011 7:43 AM

Thanks Zach. Good to know I'm not the only one who finds it confusing.

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 11/16/2011 9:08 AM

"Chris, Would you consider removing or increasing the favorites limit of 3?"

No. I think limiting it three make it much more special when someone chooses to favorite an entry.

William Dunbar (Level 5) ~ 11/19/2011 12:59 AM

Format question: How would you handle a situation where a bunch of people are being interviewed in the same place but separately, each getting one line at a time? This would be from the interviewer's POV, so you see character 1, who says "He was tall", then character 2, who says "He was kinda short", then maybe character 1 again saying something else, and so on. Would this be a montage? a series of shots?

I'm trying to think of an example of what I mean, and all I can think of is Cool Runnings, where they go around to a number of people trying to get funding for the Jamaican Bobsled Team, and all you see is a bunch of faces laughing at them in quick succession.

This is for a short (not for MP), so I really don't want to use a new slugline for each line of dialogue.

Any insight?

David M Troop (Level 5) ~ 11/19/2011 11:06 AM

A series of shots and montage are usually used for action scenes which do not include dialogue. What you are describing sounds like what they do in the television shows The Office, Parks and Rec, and even Modern Family. They will have a scene then cut to one or more characters being interviewed separately in another location.
Simply Scripts may have some TV scripts from these shows on their site.
I hope this helps you out.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 11/20/2011 12:20 AM

Something like this:


A MAN, in a business suit, conducts an interview with SUSAN (20), dressed in a beautiful skirt.


A) JACKIE (23) shakes hands with the interviewer. He gets up.
B) JOHN (25) stares at the interviewer, leaves his seat.
C) TERRISA (23) leaves her seat.



A MAN, in a business suit, conducts an interview with SUSAN (20), dressed in a beautiful skirt.

JACKIE (23) shakes hands with the interviewer. He gets up.

JOHN (25) stares at the interviewer, leaves his seat.

(to interviewer)
Thanks. I enjoyed spending time with you.

TERRISA (23) gets up.

I think that's how I would do a series of shots.

William Dunbar (Level 5) ~ 11/20/2011 3:07 AM

I hadn't thought of TV scripts. I looked at a few movie scripts and couldn't find anything good. I'm sure it's an effect I've seen before though. If anyone can think of a script where it's used, I'd love to hear about it.

I see what you mean, Reginald, but I'm worried that if I give them all lines of dialogue, it will seem like they're all in the room at the same time.

Anyway, I'll keep trying to figure it out. Thanks.

David Birch (Level 5) ~ 11/20/2011 8:14 AM

you might want to read "up in the air" (the clooney flick)...just google "up in the air pdf" and you should be able to get a copy...

David Birch (Level 5) ~ 11/20/2011 8:25 AM

BTW...i do remember a "seinfeld" episode where george was interviewing women to be his secretary...i.e. one location...i would have to imagine that was done as a "series of shots"...but, good luck on finding those teleplays...

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 11/20/2011 8:48 AM

Try this:

Bill Clar (Level 5) ~ 11/29/2011 2:38 PM

Which is preferred: nothin' or nothin.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 11/29/2011 3:43 PM

Anytime I see it, it's spelled nothin'.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 11/29/2011 3:59 PM


(requires the apostrophe because of the missing g)

Denise Jewell (Level 5) ~ 11/29/2011 4:23 PM

Here's an idea. Make the characters name the "slug" for each section. This helps establish new scene/time in the same location. (I found something similar in "The Fabulous Baker Boys".)


Willard, in a business suit, sits behind a large mahogany desk. Several candidates come and go as he conducts a series of interviews:

(20), young but somehow weathered, sits nervously.

My strengths are typing. And making coffee. And typing.

(50) looks around as he sits.

Can I smoke in here?

(35) sits back in chair with a leg propped on the desk.

I’d say good benefits. And good pay, mostly.

He suddenly sits up and reaches in to his jacket pocket. He pulls out a parking stub.

You validate, right?

Denise Jewell (Level 5) ~ 11/29/2011 4:28 PM

Ok, Moderators. I've erred... I guess I CAN'T indent. Please feel free to delete my repeat posting at your leisure.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 11/29/2011 4:32 PM

Repeat post deleted!

Denise Jewell (Level 5) ~ 11/29/2011 4:59 PM


Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 12/2/2011 10:10 AM

I'm interested in opinions on how one would format scene headings where each scene has a time span of several monthes between them. The exact time span is unimportant, only that some time has passed.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 12/2/2011 10:28 AM

Another question, are things like saturation and focus considered to be in the cinematographical or editing realm? I suspect most of this is done in post today, but may have been mostly during shooting in the past.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 12/2/2011 10:37 AM

I would say unless the story requires it, leave anything with cinematography and editing out of your script. I think of "Eternal Sunshine fo the Spotless Mind." Some faces and places are blurry or out of focus because Joel can't/doesn't remember what they looked like.

One caveat -- if you're not writing a spec. I'm working on a script that I'm goning to be shooting myself so I'm allowing myself to break some of the "rules" with the script.

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 12/6/2011 9:12 PM

Also, if my protagonist is mostly holding a camera and most of his speaking parts are OS, how do I let the audience know this without giving descriptions like "we see..."...just write WHAT is seen through the camera? Also, for the most part the guy he is filming, and at the end his face is blocked out. How would I write that?

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 12/6/2011 9:22 PM

Sorry Zach, I should have specified that my second question was in regards to reviewing the shorts this month. Should I credit (or blame):) the editor, cinematographer, or director for something like hue or saturation?

Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 12/6/2011 10:23 PM


If you're uncomfortable about "blame", simply comment on the issue.

"The sound seemed hollow" or "The scene was so dark that I couldn't see what was going on".

I can be kind of a lame reviewer, but that's how I'd do it.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 12/6/2011 11:08 PM

I see.

With something like that, it could be any combination of the three. I'd go with Tim's approach and just comment in general about the effect.

Bryony Quigly (Level 3) ~ 12/8/2011 5:29 PM

Where do you guys read recent spec scripts? And where do you find out about them?

I keep tabs on ItsontheGrid and similar sites but when I google the screenplay I can't find anything.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 12/11/2011 11:30 AM

Mike - You shoot bright and in the highest resolution you can, then darken or fog it up in post. You can't add detail in editing. Except through CG... I think.

Oh... What Tim said.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 12/11/2011 1:28 PM

"Also, if my protagonist is mostly holding a camera and most of his speaking parts are OS, how do I let the audience know this without giving descriptions like "we see..."...just write WHAT is seen through the camera? Also, for the most part the guy he is filming, and at the end his face is blocked out. How would I write that?"
You don't need to use CAMERA OFF or CAMERA ON in a sugline or use editing transition. You can jsut say "The camera turns off," or "The camera turns on" in the description.

Better yet, you can say "Mark films," or "Mark turns off camera" throughout the screenplay and not use any editing transitions nor sluglines to establish that.

For example:


MARK WURLEY, 22, a student filmmaker, turns on camera and films the living room.

Hi. My name is Mark. I’m doing a
documentary for my school and this
is my film.

The ad has been on Craig’s list for
a few days now. I’ll give it some
time before I pull the ad.

Mark gets up and fades out.

Mark sits on his sofa, turns on camera, playing a video game.

If he's recording the video game or the living room when he speaks, then use (O.S) next to Mark's name.

It’s been four days and nothing.
Mark reacts to video game.

In additon, whem Mark is recording, you would use (O.S.) next to Mark's name, since we can't see him recording. If you want us to see Mark's body while he's filming someone, don't use th (O.S.)

And I would avoid the "we see Mark doing something..." You can just say, "Mark does soemthing..." and such.

I could be wrong though because I'm not that good of a screenwriter myself, and other people might have a better way of showing us that Mark turns off the camera.

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 12/11/2011 2:21 PM

@Reginald - gee, these lines look so familiar to me. LOL :-) I have lots of work to do on my script and I actually thought of a new beginning to the script last night just when I was dozing off. I've been sick all weekend and haven't been in the mood to write. Will attempt today though and will give those a try. Thanks bud!

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 12/11/2011 2:42 PM

No problem. I hope you feel better.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 12/11/2011 3:18 PM


I'd make a note in the script -- on title page ii -- that everything will be seen in first-person through a handheld camera by the character(s). Then write the script in third-person as you would normally, describing what is seen and heard.

While it does us "we," I'd suggest checking out the "Cloverfield" screenplay:

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 12/11/2011 5:19 PM

@Zach - Yes! Just like Cloverfield. I watched that and it's perfect!

I can't get that link to open. Is it possible for you to email me the pdf script?

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 12/11/2011 6:32 PM

Debra, there's a script in Deja Vu (here on the site) called "There are no more heroes" - it a great read and might answer your question.

David Birch (Level 5) ~ 12/12/2011 2:26 AM

while the movie Apollo 18 was -- pretty much -- a was written to be one of those "found footage" films...check your email...

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 12/12/2011 11:50 AM

Thanks David. Since this is a movie that my friend and I are going to shoot ourselves, I don't think I need to list a bunch of camera directions. I will be on the set plus the main character is holding the camera and filming.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 12/14/2011 3:03 PM

Hello. Does anyone here know how to write a Super to indicate a block of time?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 12/14/2011 8:15 PM

Need more specifics. Are talking about a time-lapse, montage, fast-foward, freeze frame, etc.?

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 1/4/2012 10:29 AM

I suspect that because this is a script-writing site, not a film-making site, that the films are not listed on the film-makers' member page. Also, it may be that the film-maker doesn't even have an account here, but seems like something is not quite right when e.g. I go to Martin Lancaster's member page and "Focus" is not listed there.

Is there anything that can be done about this?

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 1/4/2012 11:43 AM

"Is there anything that can be done about this?"

Martin can add it to his bio if he likes.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 1/4/2012 12:09 PM

Good idea. I did that for mine, but it may be a bit much to expect that everyone would do it.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 1/8/2012 1:43 AM

Why do people make their films private?

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 1/8/2012 4:14 AM

Some festivals don't want the film to be screened at other venues while it's in competition, Mike.

That might be the case, or not.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 1/8/2012 1:23 PM

I made mine private because I'm planning to remake/finish mine.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 1/14/2012 10:12 PM

I seem to have more (not) stupid questions than your average MPer lately.

So on NetFlix, when you mouse over a video, is that a logline, or tagline, or synopsis? How about when you click and go to the video page?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 1/15/2012 1:03 AM

Most of them read like poorly constructed loglines.

Remember that loglines will tell you the jist of the movie. Synopses will tell you the movie. Taglines tell you nothing about the movie.

Bill Clar (Level 5) ~ 1/16/2012 12:52 PM

If I register a screenplay with the WGA, am I allowed to update said registration with the latest rewrites?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 1/16/2012 2:19 PM

I remember a bylaw in which the WGA allows up to 30% alterations to previously registered script. You'd have to double check their site to confirm that.

Otherwise you'll have to register it as a whole new script since the registration only pertains to the draft that was registered, not the necessarily the screenplay itself.

David M Troop (Level 5) ~ 1/21/2012 8:39 AM

This is not a stupid question - more like an idiotic request.
My wife and I are heading to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennesee this fall.
Does anyone have any suggestions, must-see places, or make sure you avoids to pass along?
I have my email address on my profile page so we don't turn this into a AAA website.

[edited by Moderator to avoid Spam danger]

Dave Kunz (Level 4) ~ 2/5/2012 12:59 PM

I just tried to add a link to my short film on my Members page here at MP but it didn't work. I copied the http from my browser and pasted it in. So where did I mess up? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 2/5/2012 1:08 PM

Dave, I fixed your link for you. To post a link on MP, you need to put [urlx] in front of the link and [/urlx] behind the link (but without the x's).

Dave Kunz (Level 4) ~ 2/5/2012 1:22 PM

Wow. And all in 9 minutes flat. Impressive, to say the least. Thanks, Chris.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 2/5/2012 2:44 PM

Like ?

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 2/9/2012 2:29 PM

Where's the Last seen Movie thread gone? It's vanished for me

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 2/9/2012 2:47 PM

MJ, The last one I see is #8. Was there a #9?

Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 2/9/2012 2:51 PM

I forget... but notice the last movie comment was from early January. So something is up.

Jem Rowe (Level 4) ~ 2/9/2012 8:06 PM

Weird, I just posted on 9 less than a week ago, it was definately there, but not anymore?!?

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 2/9/2012 8:12 PM

Yes, there was definitely a LSM#9 thread. I just posted on it last night. ???

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5) ~ 2/9/2012 8:35 PM

I'm sorry...I accidentally reviewed the last porn I saw. Chris must have deleted the whole thread. :-/

Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 2/9/2012 8:51 PM

Would you care to share that review via email, Marnie? Must have been very scholarly.

David Birch (Level 5) ~ 2/9/2012 11:17 PM

i've always maintained that january and february movies are the thread is, as well...

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 2/10/2012 5:45 AM

Yes there was definitely a LSM9, it was among the top 5 or so threads - Marnie busted it!!

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 2/10/2012 5:50 AM

I think it might have been me, accidentally, in a pain-killer induced stupor (have ear infection) - though, quite honestly, I don't recall doing anything untoward. I'm sure it's nothing sinister like Big Brother Censorship and I really apologise.

See, that's the DOWNside of having an edit button!

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 2/10/2012 9:13 AM

I did some research and honestly, I'm not sure what happened to that thread - gremlins is my best guess. It was definitely not deleted on purpose. I apologize for it's absence. Please feel free to start another one and if anyone notices anything else strange (or stranger than usual), let me know.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 2/16/2012 9:56 PM

I have a question. Am I allowed to upload a rewrite my previous scripts and upload just the title page as, "Unavailable," with nothing else on here?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 2/16/2012 10:55 PM

What is the reason to post a re-write if you're marking it unavailable?

Or maybe I'm reading the question wrong?

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 2/16/2012 11:06 PM

I'm trying to remove the second draft of the screenplay, but we can't. That's why I was asking if the third draft, the first page script in the action line can say "Unavailable."

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 2/16/2012 11:09 PM

Only the most rewrite will appear on the script page. So if you upload a third draft, the second draft is gone. At least that's what I've seen.

Denise Jewell (Level 5) ~ 2/17/2012 9:21 AM

Reginald -- You can just ask Chris to remove your script if you want.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 2/17/2012 9:30 AM

That should have read, "Only the most recent rewrite..."


JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 3/8/2012 3:28 PM

What's the word when someone stares at you in disbelief when they're upset over something you just said. Liked they're shocked that you had the audacity to just say "that".

I don't like Glare or Gawks. When I think of those two, they're not the message I'm trying to get across.

Any suggestions?

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 3/8/2012 3:29 PM


JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 3/8/2012 3:36 PM

Hm... I'll work with that a bit. See where it takes me. Thanks.

Michael Cornetto (Level 5) ~ 3/8/2012 3:37 PM


Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 3/8/2012 3:39 PM


Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 3/8/2012 3:50 PM


Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 3/8/2012 3:52 PM

Didn't you want a verb, JP?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 3/8/2012 3:58 PM

Ooh, good catch, Caroline. Brings the difficulty level up a setting...

Yeah, I'm coming up with stuff like, "She stares, astonished/incredulous/nonplussed/bewildered," and the such.

Verbs are hard.

Michael Cornetto (Level 5) ~ 3/8/2012 4:23 PM

I think "stares, incredulous" is what he wants based on his description.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 3/8/2012 4:56 PM


MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 3/8/2012 5:38 PM


Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 3/8/2012 5:46 PM


Michael Cornetto (Level 5) ~ 3/9/2012 3:29 AM

Aghast is good too. I just think gape has a cartoon-like quality - so it would depend on the context.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 3/9/2012 8:56 AM

@ Caroline, yeah I wanted a verb. I'm trying to avoid "she stares,____ "

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 3/16/2012 2:13 PM

Why do screenwriters write in the present tense when novelists write in the past tense?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 3/16/2012 2:34 PM

Novelists write in every tense. Most of my prose writing is in the present tense since that's what I'm most comfortable with.

Screenplays are written in present tense because that's the way it's been done since whenever the first screenwriter decided that it should in present tense.

But seriously, present tense is more immediate. You're right there in the action with the characters. Plus, present tense is most like waatching a movie. Think about how you would narrate a movie: "There's a guy waiting in car. He checks his cell phone. Whoa, the car blows up." Right here, right now.

Nick Miranda (Level 4) ~ 3/17/2012 10:59 AM


Zach did a good job of the brief explaination. Think of a screenplay as a list of directions, like when you're putting together a piece of furniture. The instructions are written in the present tense (if they're in proper English). Think how strange it would read if they said: "When you were done tightening the bolt, you inserted Tab A into Slot B."

Back in the old days, screenwriters were responsible for camera directions as well. They would have to include things like "the camera quickly pans from Mark to Dan," or "Low angle shot of the two boxers circling each other." Anymore, however, if a screenwriter does this, it upsets the director. In some instances it is okay, but mostly it's avoided. That's why we have guys like camera directors in the bizz. It's their job to get with the director to figure out the best way to shoot a particular scene.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 3/17/2012 8:56 PM

Zach pretty much nailed it.

A screenwriter is writing what's happening visually and audibly on a second by second basis. They write the visuals an audience will see on screen... Snapshots of action and dialogue as they happen in real (cinematic) time. Screenwriters keep you visually as well as mentally in the story.

A novelist can write in any tense they choose. Past. Present. Future. They can go into long descriptives of the visual surroundings, the circumstances behind an action, whatever. Their main concern is to keep you mentally/emotionally in the story.

A novelist can take you into a character's thoughts through words. A screenwriter has to write actions that will show the audience what the character is thinking. I really like that...

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 3/23/2012 12:23 AM

Thanks everyone for answering my question. I have another one that has been bugging me. If this is MoviePoet's fifth anniversary (from 2007), then how are there 2002 and 2003 scripts on this website?

2002 Quarter 2 ~ "The 90 Second Minute" by Faisal A. Qureshi
2002 Quarter 3 ~ "Invisible?" by Ethelyn Boddy
2002 Quarter 4 ~ "The Cabinet" by Shawn W. Tittle
2003 Quarter 1 ~ "Branches" by Rick Hansberry
2003 Quarter 2 ~ "The Patriots" by Sean Sweeney

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 3/23/2012 2:03 AM

There was an earlier version of MoviePoet for a short time and then it was recreated in a new version five years ago.

Matthew Fettig (Level 5) ~ 3/23/2012 3:27 PM

For scene transitions, I frequently see action lines that trail off and the next line is the new scene heading without the INT/EXT. For example:

John races down the hallway. He shoves his way though the door into

John darts for the closet.

Is this correct? Just a faster way to move the action along without having to add the unnecessary INT/EXT - LOCATION - TIME headings?

Philip Whitcroft (Level 5) ~ 3/23/2012 5:00 PM

The subject of "mini-slugs" (scene headings without the INT./EXT. or the DAY/NIGHT) is one that creates debate. The original basis for using them was the idea that if you are at a specific location you will be able to film the mini-slug scene at the same time and with the same parameters as the previous full slug.

If you are at INT. SCHOOL DANCE - NIGHT, you might have mini-slugs for DANCE FLOOR, STAGE, ENTRANCE, NEAR THE BATHROOM, etc, and all of these set-ups will be filmed in the context of the dance.

However, I've seen it argued that it's okay to make more flexible use of mini-slugs in places that don't seem to fit with the sub-location logic. So it's become one of the personal style choice things.

In your example you are saying that you expect the Master Bedroom to be in the same place as the House, which is fair enough. However, if you need an open-plan downstairs and a bedroom with two walk in closets, there's a good chance the locations will be in totally different places and be filmed on different days. In that case I'd suggest the default choice is to use a full scene heading.

Philip Whitcroft (Level 5) ~ 3/23/2012 5:06 PM

And I forgot to add that you can use "--" to show an interupted action line, the same way people do with dialogue. Also, you can choose to continue the action line in the next location using "--" as well. So your example becomes:

He shoves his way through the door into--

-- and darts for the closet.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 3/23/2012 7:17 PM

"And I forgot to add that you can use "--" to show an interupted action line, the same way people do with dialogue. Also, you can choose to continue the action line in the next location using "--" as well."

I was always told that I couldn't use the "--" in description, and seasoned screenwriters don't use them when they want to sell their screenplay. I know it can be used in dialogue though.

"re 'aberrations' in the action/description element [dashes/ellipses/et al.], you'd be wise to wait till you have a good track record as a pro screenwriter, before breaking the 'lean & clean' rule that applies to unknown newbies... "

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 3/23/2012 9:00 PM

Write a great story and no one will give two damns about the little things like dashes and ellipses.

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus) ~ 3/23/2012 10:23 PM

You can use - or -- in action description. Your screenplay should have a rhythm to it, yours. As long as you are consistent throughout in how you tell your story, I would not worry about dashes and ellipses. I use them and like using them.

Matthew Fettig (Level 5) ~ 3/24/2012 3:07 PM

Phillip's reply seems to be directed more towards the production side which is understandable - you don't want to write a script that would be virtually impossible to shoot. However, during the writing I don't think I should be concerned about whether or not any specific, real location for a potential filming will be perfectly suited as-is for the script.

In my question, I was more concerned about how that practice is viewed by readers here during the voting process...which, invariably, brings up the common response - tell a good story clearly and don't worry about the minutia.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 3/30/2012 7:18 PM

Computer virus question!!!

I'm using a Mac and have MacKeeper. There's this one little bug that I can't get rid of no matter what I do. It's small, too...

When I first get things going (takes longer every time...), a screen pops up for about half a second. It's just a flash and I can't read it. A couple of times my computer said that I had too many windows open...

Whatever's going on, it's slowing me down exponentially...


Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 3/31/2012 7:54 PM

I have a Mac, but I have never seen that before. Do you have an Apple store with a Genius Bar near you - they can be really helpful.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 4/1/2012 2:37 AM

When did you notice the issue first, Margaret?

Hassan Saddiq (Level 1) ~ 4/1/2012 6:55 PM

I thought mac's can't get viruses? :p Sorry, if it was a PC I could help, but Macs I know nothing about.

I was reading the Breaking Bad Pilot script and I had some questions from the first page

Here is what I'm talking about:
"Deep blue sky overhead. Fat, scuddy clouds. Below them,
black and white cows graze the rolling hills. This could be
one of those California “It’s The Cheese” commercials.
Except those commercials don’t normally focus on cow shit.
We do. TILT DOWN to a fat, round PATTY drying olive drab in
the sun. Flies buzz. Peaceful and quiet. Until...
... ZOOOM! WHEELS plow right through the shit with a SPLAT."

"Oh, by the way, he’s wearing a GAS MASK. That, and white
jockey UNDERPANTS. Nothing else.
Buckled in the seat beside him lolls a clothed PASSENGER,
also wearing a gas mask. Blood streaks down from his ear,
blotting his T-shirt. He’s passed out cold.
Behind them, the interior is a wreck. Beakers and buckets
and flasks -- some kind of ad-hoc CHEMICAL LAB -- spill their
noxious contents with every bump we hit. Yellow-brown liquid
washes up and down the floor. It foams in a scum around...
... Two DEAD BODIES. Two freshly deceased Mexican guys
tumble like rag dolls, bumping into each other.
Completing this picture is the blizzard of MONEY."

Now I know why "DEAD BODIES", "DRIVER", and "PASSENGER" are capitalized, because they are characters in the story, we just don't know their names yet

But why are "SHIT", "WHEELS", "GAS MASK", "UNDERPANTS", "CHEMICAL LAB", and "MONEY" capitalized?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 4/1/2012 11:08 PM

It's mainly for effect. Your eye is drawn to those words and they pop on the page with capitalization. It's a great tool -- but use it SPARINGLY or else it seems like you're yelling, and it can lessen the power of capitalizing (if everything's in caps, then nothing must be that important).

Michael Cornetto (Level 5) ~ 4/1/2012 11:23 PM

They are caps because they are sound effects and props. What you are reading is a shooting script and these thing will be capitalized by the production secretary. You should avoid doing so in your spec script.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 4/1/2012 11:29 PM

Can I ask a question. What if a person is having a dream? Will it be something like this:


Becky walks toward a half-beaten MAN. His head falls off.


Becky leaps out of bed and breathes deep. Her head falls off.


Becky leaps out of bed.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 4/1/2012 11:30 PM


sorry for the double post

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 4/1/2012 11:38 PM

That's one way, Reg. Though I'd put DREAM SEQUENCE after DAY, but that's personal style.

Another way is to not tell the reader, which can add a little twist when the sequence ends and we realize it wasn't real. Of course, avoid any cliched "waking up from a dream" beats/motifs.

Hassan Saddiq (Level 1) ~ 4/2/2012 2:55 PM

Thank you Zack & Michael!

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 4/2/2012 2:59 PM

Thanks Zack for answering.

Christina Anderson (Level 4) ~ 4/3/2012 5:36 PM

Ok, Contest Scores. The purple box highlighting one of the percentages-- that's the scripts rating right? And how do you get that?

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 4/3/2012 5:39 PM

The purple box indicates that you voted on the script. When you vote something as "Very Good," for instance, the Very Good box will be highlighted in purple.

Christina Anderson (Level 4) ~ 4/3/2012 5:42 PM

Oh, that's why it's so different. Thanks!

Bill Clar (Level 5) ~ 4/3/2012 8:47 PM

Anyone ever use a script consultant or proofreader? Any reputable ones at an affordable price?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 4/3/2012 9:10 PM

I proofread for free.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 4/4/2012 2:23 AM

I proofread for free.

De Ja Vu.

Bill Clar (Level 5) ~ 4/4/2012 9:05 AM

Thanks, but this is for my "First 10 Pages" entry. If you proofread it, then I lose anonymity during voting. Isn't that a bad thing?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 4/4/2012 9:41 AM

Probably. But if you have anything else that needs proofreading or editing I'd gladly help. Some credentials: I've been working at my school's writing center for a few years and in every writing course I've taken (and there's been quite a few), I've had at least half the class tell me my notes and suggestions and grammar fixer-uppers were very helpful and they tended to use them all. It's anecdotal, sure, but I gotta start somewhere.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 4/4/2012 3:18 PM

Bill, I'm not entering the first ten pages, and if you're willing to have Zach, me, or anyone else, odds are, Chris suggested that team partners we could rate your script as poor, and he would remove the comment. But that's not always the case.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 4/10/2012 1:48 PM

I just got an android phone and am having trouble reading the pdf's from MP. I can download and read pdf's from other sites but here, I just get 'pdf.htm' and it is basically just the MP main page. Am I doing something wrong or is it not posible?

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 4/10/2012 1:58 PM

With the similar issue in browsers it is usually the adobe pdf viewer that caused the problem.

1. What app/browser app do you use to watch pdfs on android?


2. Does it happen when you click the pdf link from the voting page?

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 4/10/2012 3:11 PM

Mike, that's the exact problem I had on my android. I had to download firefox and it gives you the option to open it on your pdf.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 4/10/2012 4:15 PM

Rusty - It's the "stock" browser that comes with Android and I get the pdf.htm file if I click any script link.

JP - I'll look into Firefox for Android. Thanks.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 4/12/2012 2:55 PM

Did the Firefox tip work, Mike?

Bill Clar (Level 5) ~ 4/16/2012 11:47 AM

In Celtx, is there a way to save the first 10 pages into a PDF? I'd rather not create a separate project file.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 4/16/2012 2:52 PM

Rusty - Firefox works, but I have to change the extension as it saves the link as "pdf.aspx". I just change the file to "pdf.pdf" and now I can vote while in line at the DMV! Yay!

It's a bit annoying having to change the file name, but not as much as spending more time trying to fix it.

Thanks for your help.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 4/16/2012 3:05 PM

Thanks to JeanPierre, more than me. :)

Glad you found a workaround, Mike!

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 4/20/2012 9:15 AM

I'm in talks with an independent director/producer for him to option a screenplay and hire me for an adaptation of novel he has the rights to. He's directed and produced a few things, including a short script I wrote that'll be hitting the festivals later this year/early next year -- the film turned out great and the guy's been on the level with me since we've been working together, so I feel he's legit.

Okay, so that's the easy part. Now then:

Does anyone have experience with the finanacial/business end of feature options and for hire work? Has anyone used/worked with the WGA's non-member and low-budget guidelines? The crux of my query here is what should I be looking for paycheck-wise? I've seen that 3-5% of the budget is typical, but that's purchase price, so what should I be asking for with the option fee? Ten percent of the purchase price? Fifteen? Also, how can the price be determined if there's budget yet?

The above pertains more to the optioned script, so any thoughts as to the for hire work? I know I should get something up-front, before I delve too deeply into the writing, but I don't want to ask for too much or too little and feel that one of us is getting shafted.

Or should I just contact an attorney?

Many thanks in advance.

Hassan Saddiq (Level 1) ~ 5/6/2012 3:16 PM

What does "off him" mean?


Yeah. Multiple myeloma. Stage 3.
(A beat)
Best-case scenario, with chemo, I'll live another two years.
(Off the man's gaze)
It's just, you've got mustard on your....
You've got mustard there.

Another example:

Walt stands tall in his underpants, not flinching. Off him, ready to shoot the first cop he sees...

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 5/6/2012 3:45 PM

Off the man's gaze means he's reacting to the man's gaze - for instance, a man might look angry and another character flinches because it makes him scared.

The second example? I don't understand that either!

Hassan Saddiq (Level 1) ~ 5/6/2012 3:50 PM


I'm having the same problem reading scripts so I dl FFox but I can't figure out how to rename the files, how did you do it? .aspx files won't open in either of the two pdf viewers I have

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 5/6/2012 4:15 PM

@ Hassan

- open the pdf.aspx in the Firefox browser.

- use the option "save link as" and rename the file from pdf.aspx to pdf.pdf

Hope this works!

Hassan Saddiq (Level 1) ~ 5/6/2012 5:20 PM

Thanks, I see it now. In the second example the previous sentence is:
"flashing RED LIGHTS speed into view, skimming the tops of the weeds. Heading straight for us"

I think it means he's reacting to the police cars barreling towards him, the ones he can just barely see over the weeds in the distance, that he feels its the end?

Ffox doesn't even let me open the file, rename it or even give me the option to "save link as"

But the android browser does have the "save as" option so it finally works! Thanks

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 5/7/2012 2:00 AM

Zach - Email's on its way. Probably tomorrow...

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 5/7/2012 6:05 AM

Hassan, what FOLLOWs would probably aid my understanding!

Hassan Saddiq (Level 1) ~ 5/7/2012 3:19 PM

that was the last sentence in the teaser trailer script for the Breaking Bad pilot

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 5/7/2012 3:29 PM

@ Hassan...that's very annoying, then!

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 5/7/2012 4:25 PM

Thanks, Margaret!

Chris Setten (Level 4) ~ 5/9/2012 2:42 PM

Can anybody explain to me the difference between Off Screen (OS) and Off Camera (OC)?

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 5/9/2012 2:58 PM

I think that O.C is used in a teleplay for TV showes, and O.S. is used in movie scripts (I'm not possitive on this though). I heard it from another website.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 5/9/2012 3:00 PM

But like I said, that is a biased source.

Ammar Salmi (Level 5) ~ 5/9/2012 4:27 PM

Having done some research on the issue before, being humble screenwriting historian.

O.C. used when the character is off the camera, but in the scene. Example:
It was, Setten, idea, I swear.
The audacity you had to push that darn button. To betray fivers. Your #$@#@ family.

O.S. meant the character is not in the scene at all.

Innocent Man bursts into the house.
Setten, they are coming for you!
What? Come. I'm up stairs.

But that was confusing for me. Off screen and Off camera is the same, then I realized that maybe the early O.S. meant off the scene. Later, when O.S. replaced them both (off the scene and off the camera), only then it was meant to say off screen.

This of course would have mattered production wise. They get to know if the actor needed on the set for that scene, or they can just edit his voice in. But, recently, looks like they though it's worth the trouble for some reason. This is why most writers now think O.C. is outdated and they just use O.S. for both cases.

Setten holds up his hands in the air, stuck up by an unseen threat.
I swear to God I voted no, Kirk.
This is what they all said to my 44.

A voice of someone downstairs closing the front door.
Setten, I just wanted to drop by and say thanks for voting yes.

Oh @#$#%!


Ammar Salmi (Level 5) ~ 5/9/2012 4:34 PM

Ok some scenes needs to be edited mods, please. Avenger instead of interrogator in the last scene, and (O.S.) in front of CHRIS MESSINEO.

Rusty, help :(

Chris Setten (Level 4) ~ 5/9/2012 5:08 PM

Your explanation needs to have some sort of disclaimer like: opinions attached to names are for illustrative purposes only and in no way reflect individuals' actual views and/or perspectives.

Ammar Salmi (Level 5) ~ 5/9/2012 5:25 PM

Relax, it's Moviepoet. The most dangerous incident we had here was a food fight. But that's nice of you to advise. Thank you. I can't edit it even if I wanted too.

Chris Setten (Level 4) ~ 5/9/2012 5:27 PM

I was kidding, no worries. I'm pretty sure I can take Kirk one on one.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 5/9/2012 6:01 PM

(O.C.) and (O.S.) mean practically the same thing. Either one is fine for use, but pick one and stick with it -- consistancy is key.

Hassan Saddiq (Level 1) ~ 5/9/2012 7:37 PM

Dear mods

how about a section where users can submit scripts for constructive criticism similar to the monthly contests in style(anonymous until the review period is over) but for every day use/non-contest scripts someone might be working on?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 5/9/2012 11:51 PM

The way I've seen it done, Hassan, is to just ask if anyone's interested in reading a script. You'll always get a few bites.

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 5/10/2012 12:48 AM

"how about a section where users can submit scripts for constructive criticism similar to the monthly contests in style(anonymous until the review period is over) but for every day use/non-contest scripts someone might be working on?"

While I always love suggestions, this one would not only be hard to code, but it would distract from the regular monthly voting and that is the last thing we need to do.

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5) ~ 5/10/2012 5:52 AM

@ Chris, Suggestion: One of the future monthly challenges might include a rewrite of a previous entry...

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 5/17/2012 8:12 AM

Do animals have to be capped if they don't speak??

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 5/17/2012 8:12 AM

I mean when they first appear.

Philip Whitcroft (Level 5) ~ 5/17/2012 8:27 AM

If they are more than just part of the background, e.g. at a zoo or butterflies in a field, then yes.

I think the way to look at it is to ask if the animal needs to be cast for the role. If they do, then capitalize their intro and perhaps help out the casting director by giving some description.

Ammar Salmi (Level 5) ~ 5/17/2012 9:04 AM

It it has a name cap it.

"Jocelyn absently picks at her food. She looks down, finds
PLATO, her Scottish terrier, scratching at his collar."

Quoted from an optioned script.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 5/17/2012 9:05 AM

"Chris, Suggestion: One of the future monthly challenges might include a rewrite of a previous entry..."

I would love that.

David Birch (Level 5) ~ 5/18/2012 6:20 PM

is there a way to do "line through" text here?...mostly, so when i'm doing a review it would be easier to show what a line of dialog/description would look like without a particular word/phrase...thanks in advance...

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 5/22/2012 9:47 PM

I have a question. Does a script take place inside (INT.) a parking garage or outside (EXT.) a parking garage?

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 5/22/2012 9:52 PM

And David, most forums and review rooms are lost in formation, meanning that once you post a line of dialogue in screenplay format, it becomes regular text. I'm not possitive if you can paste dialogue in screenplay format in MoviePoet though.

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 5/22/2012 10:37 PM

"@ Chris, Suggestion: One of the future monthly challenges might include a rewrite of a previous entry..."

This would kill any anonymity, so I doubt we will ever do it.

"is there a way to do "line through" text here?"

I'm afraid not.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 5/22/2012 10:58 PM

INT. Parking garage... I think.

I had the same question about a maze. If I'm outisde the maze, I put ext. But if i'm inside the maze that's outside, what do I put? It doesn't have a roof. But I'm IN IT.

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 5/22/2012 11:09 PM

@ JP - That would be EXT because while you are inside an outdoor maze, the scene is going to be shot outdoors and that's really all the INT/EXT indicate.

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 5/22/2012 11:11 PM

@ Reginald - Unless it's on the roof, I would think a parking garage would be INT since it could very easily be an enclosed garage (and INT shots are easier to film so any director would prefer this.)

David Birch (Level 5) ~ 5/23/2012 1:20 AM're absolutely's an example from the SP "One Shot" (Tom Cruise project)...


The van spirals upward to the penultimate level --
every spot full. The garage is in two sections --
one old and packed, the other new and empty -- still
under construction -- cordoned off by yellow tape reading:

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 5/23/2012 1:08 PM

How do you describe films like 'A Scanner Darkly' and 'This Waking Life' - is it live action overlaid with animation? Is there a more succinct way of describing it?

I'm trying to write a scene where the character is learning Tarot and she 'drops' into the paintings on the cards so that she is 'in' the card and interacts with the Tarot characters and it would be depicted like the above films.

This is what I've got so far - does it work?

Tabby’s tears fall on the Two Of Swords.

It shows a blindfolded WOMAN. She kneels in sand and holds two swords crossed in front of her. The sea behind her.


Tabitha stands on the painted sand. The painted sea roars to life. The blindfolded WOMAN leaps up.


She strains to see through the blindfold, rattles the swords.

Help me.

Tabitha edges closer, scared of the swords, she unties the blindfold. It is her own face but has no eyes.

Wake up.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 5/23/2012 1:33 PM

I think that's perfectly fine, unless I see something you're not seeing.

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 5/23/2012 2:31 PM

I think there needs to be a slugline in there because you are changing scenes.

Unless you plan on directing this yourself (in which case you can write it however you want), I don't think the writer generally dictates the medium. Whether to animate, CGI or live action the scene inside of the card would ultimately be the director's choice so I'd probably just leave it out.

Also, I don't even think you need to include INSIDE THE CARD in there either. If you write it well enough (which you have), it should be obvious and easy for the reader to follow.

This is how I'd probably do it...

It shows a blindfolded WOMAN. She kneels in sand and holds two swords crossed in front of her. The sea behind her.


Tabitha stands on the painted sand. The painted sea roars to life. The blindfolded WOMAN leaps up.

Just my 2 cents.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 5/23/2012 5:35 PM

Cheers Brian. How's your block, has it unstuck yet? Got your muse back?

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 5/23/2012 6:38 PM

Brian writes some great screenplays, in my opinion. I hope he writes some more.

Unfortunately, I lost mine muse.

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 5/23/2012 7:06 PM

I think it's starting to creep back. I have fleeting moments of creativity lately. I even churned out a 3 pager that I'm hoping will fit contest requirements sometime in the near future. I also have a few seeds of ideas bouncing around for features, but they need a lot more fleshing out before I actually start writing them. I am hoping to do 1 more no budget short film on my crappy but reliable old Sony Handycam this August before I upgrade to a nicer camera (Yeah, yeah... I know. I always say it's time to upgrade to a better camera, but this time I may actually mean it.) So I may toss a quick script together for that, but it'll just be friends and family actors and no crew so I don't need to do anything too fancy. The film I have in mind is actually a sequel to my first ever short film, Witches Woods. Here's a link to the youtube video for anyone who hasn't seen it already. Fair warning... It's not very good, but hey... It was intended to be a learning process and I learned a great deal from shooting it so in that respect, it was a success.

Thanks Reginald! I'm sure my muse will return in full at some point and I'll get back to writing! Hopefully, yours does too!

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 5/31/2012 12:13 AM

I have another ethics question.

I've set a goal for myself of finishing a feature and entering it in the Final Draft Big Break contest. The deadline is June 15th, and the script is 10 to 15 pages away from being finished...

One of the stipulations for entering is that there can't be a production company involved with the script. My problem is that I'm planning on producing this myself - IF I can afford to do it.

I'll say right now that I have no delusions about placing in the contest, but I really would like to see how it fares. If they hate it, I'll need to go back to the drawing board. If it's okay, I can start working on raising the funding...

What if it placed, though? It's an incredible long shot, but .00001% probability is still a probability...

Can I enter this contest with the knowledge that I'd fight tooth and nail to hang on to artistic control? Or should I back off from the contest and take my chances with fate?

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 5/31/2012 12:19 AM

I think you should go do the contest. I think that the reviews are here to help you to improve your writing. I personally don't think you should care how it ranks if you really plan on producing this. Since the reviewing gives you an opportunity to make it better to produce the script, your best bet is to go and enter first, and if it does not get anywhere, you can have your Movie Poet friends to review it to make it better before you decide to go back to the drawing board.

What are the consequences if you win? Do you still have to stay away from producing it if you advance to the next round? If they do have a "second" round or so to speak, I think you should continue to enter until the entire contest is over.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 5/31/2012 1:00 AM

Margaret, I dont' think that "planning on producing" is the same as "production company involved with the script". All you have is plans (meaning in a good way:) ) I don't think any competition wants any script that's in production or under an option - that's why they have to put it there. --all thoughts:)

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 5/31/2012 8:07 AM

"I have fleeting moments of creativity lately."

Awesome - glad to hear it!

"Can I enter this contest with the knowledge that I'd fight tooth and nail to hang on to artistic control?"

You can definitely enter. Best of luck.

Bill Sarre (Level 5) ~ 6/1/2012 10:13 AM

Ok, this probably is a stupid question but...

Is there any protocol with reviewing a script after the competition?

I didn't get around to read the first 10 of the features. if I do, I feel I should give feedback as if it was before.

Just thought I would check before I commit a "no no".

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 6/1/2012 10:22 AM

No protocol, Bill. You go to the script's page and post your comments in the section below.

But you won't be able to read/access the entries which have moved into the final round, to maintain anonymity.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 6/6/2012 10:40 PM

If anyone is using Celtx, how can you save the script as PDF? I'm using Final Draft 8 on my other computer but needed to switch computers because the old one needs to be fixed. So I started downloading Celtx on the other computer.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 6/6/2012 10:51 PM

I print to PDF. So I go -print-PDF - save as PDF

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 6/6/2012 11:00 PM

Thanks Khamanna. It worked.

Bill Sarre (Level 5) ~ 6/11/2012 4:59 PM

Apologies, this must have been asked before but as I am approaching my maiden entry with PDF I just wanted to check (I have read the FAQ and can't see the answer)....

....if I submit my PDF script, can this be changed before the contest closing date. Eg I spot a typo, or is it fixed.



Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 6/11/2012 6:22 PM

"if I submit my PDF script, can this be changed before the contest closing date. Eg I spot a typo, or is it fixed."

Yep. Once you click Enter, it will allow you to override the old file once the new file is updated. It shoud say something like this: "We have received your entry below. You have until the end of the month to make any changes."

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 6/17/2012 4:01 PM

I seriously hope this doesn't offend anyone but I need some clarification here -

Do most Americans understand the use of the words FAIRY and POOF in a gay/homosexual context?

David M Troop (Level 5) ~ 6/17/2012 4:27 PM

I believe fairy is more known than poof in the US without getting too offensive to the gay community.

Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 6/17/2012 6:56 PM

I've heard "Poof" used, but only by Brits.

Everyone would recognize the use of "Fairy" in this context, although it is probably considered an insult in all reasonable conversations while also being pretty out of date.

It was used a lot in the 70s and 80s, but I honestly can't remember the last time I heard someone say it. This may be because I live in SoCal and we're not like some of the more, um, 'hickish' parts of the country. Go to US South it's probably used all the time.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 6/17/2012 7:25 PM

I never heard of Fairy in Ketnucky. I think I only hear that in fairytale movies like Fairy OddParents and Toothfairy. That's all I hear the work coming from.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 6/17/2012 7:36 PM

I've just learnt that these words are considered very offensive which I truly didn't realise. Lesson learnt. Apologies, apologies.

Michael Cornetto (Level 5) ~ 6/18/2012 5:09 AM

While they are sensitive words, they are only offensive if used with malice (much like the N word but not AS terrible).

It's perfectly fine for a fairy to call another fairy a fairy. As a matter of fact there are fairies (that I personally know) that consider themselves fairies (so anyone can call them that at any time).

Fairy is a bit of an outdated word for gay men (Betty Boop references fairies in a gay sense in some of her cartoons). It's a word my father would have used (Pansy as well). Most gay men today, including Americans, would probably laugh at you if you called them a fairy. However, today, it would probably be offensive to a homophobic guy if you called them a fairy.

I don't think that any American gay man would even blink at being called a poof, probably most would like it actually because it sounds soft and furry cushion. It is, however, a bit of a touchy word with certain British, Australian and NZ men, mostly the ones that aren't gay (or so they say).

Then again it all depends on who is saying what and how they say it. That guy that was giving you trouble on Facebook - I'm not sure what planet he's on. But don't let him discourage you from using the words you need to tell your story.

Michael Cornetto (Level 5) ~ 6/18/2012 5:20 AM

Just in case you didn't believe me about my friends that are fairies. :-)

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 6/18/2012 11:38 AM

I think you can use just about any word you want in dialogue or narration so long as it fits the character doing the talking.

MJ - Some people are out there trolling for someone to yell at about something. It's a power issue. I can't see you being maliciously offensive, so if this guy was the only one who got his knickers in a twist, ignore him.

Michael - Loved the link.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 6/18/2012 3:39 PM

Thanks Michael, that's so informative.

I was really upset when my friend reacted the way he did, I've known him a long time, and I felt rotten. He has since apologised to me for over-reacting but he jumped on your comment instead today!

That link is great. I've learnt so much over this!

Thanks Margaret, my thoughts exactly about the character doing the talking.

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus) ~ 6/18/2012 4:22 PM

"I think you can use just about any word you want in dialogue or narration so long as it fits the character doing the talking."

Without a doubt.

I could give a sh** who is offended by what I write. If I feel that it is good work, so be it. Not all subject matter suits everyone's sensibilities.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 6/18/2012 4:51 PM

I'm yet on my quest for subjects that might offend me. :)

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 6/20/2012 2:35 AM

I need a good synonym for "character", meaning TV character, show character etc. I tried tresaurus, it didn't give me anything suitable.
Could someone help please?

KP Mackie (Level 5) ~ 6/20/2012 2:47 AM

Kham --
Like person, player, role, part, personality, lead or star?

KP Mackie (Level 5) ~ 6/20/2012 2:49 AM


Derek Collins (Level 4) ~ 6/20/2012 3:05 AM

In ancient Greece an actor playing a lead character was called the hypocrit, depending on the context you are looking to use it in this could be an interesting choice. To borrow from stage terminology you could also use the term player. Thespian is another possibility but I think that is a little more inclusive to being an actor rather than a charter.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 6/20/2012 3:20 AM

Thanks KP and Derek!

I could use "lead" in that context! Possibly "personality" too, but it's a bit informal for the piece. "Lead" is perfect in fact - big thanks!

Derek, "hypocrit" would be a lot of fun! No a way for my thing though:)

Kirk White (Level 5) ~ 6/20/2012 1:28 PM

hope this is the right thread for this question:

what is the largest size recordable dvd one can get? so far the biggest I've found is 8.5. does anyone have a recommendation for a good, high quality large capacity recordable dvd? and no, I can't use recordable blu-ray.

any advice would be apreciated...

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 6/20/2012 2:37 PM

The 8.5 is a double-sided DVD, i.e. you can write on both sides of it, hence twice the capacity of a regular 4.7gb DVD.

What are you exactly recording and from what source?

Kirk White (Level 5) ~ 6/20/2012 3:11 PM

trying to get a feature length movie on there without having to compress to utter shitty-ness...

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 6/20/2012 3:45 PM

Ah! Well, what codec are you using?

And which software?

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 6/20/2012 4:16 PM

You can get a feature length on to a DVD without it looking craptacular.

It's almost bedtime here so here's some quick tips:

- Export just a minute of your final film with its current settings.

- Import this clip into your compressor and try the "highest" best DVD settings, play with a bit-rate of around 6-8 mbps!

- Compress it and if you're happy with the quality + size, you get a ratio and setting for the entire film.

Chris Setten (Level 4) ~ 6/20/2012 4:20 PM

I was reading on Amazon about a book by Dan Gurkis "The Short Screenplay" and he suggests writers avoid: 1.use of weapons as they are too easy of a motivator and lack creativity 2. resolution through death for same reasons and 3. avoid serial killers as they are too overdone.

Is this Short Screenplay 101 or is it one guy's opinion and highly debatable?

Kirk White (Level 5) ~ 6/20/2012 4:28 PM

thanks, always you are a shining beacon of awesomeness!

unfortunately you've ventured into an area beyond my I shall have to get my brainy editor involved...and will probably contact you directly if I have any more questions, if that's okay.

you see I'm much more of a "you know, right now it's like NNNNNAAAHHHHKKKK NNNNAAAHHHHKKKK....and I need it to be like RAZZZZTAZZZZDOOOEEEEE" kinda artist and know nothing of your codecs (is that even a word or are you just trying to make me look foolish in front of the teamsters!?!)

thanks rock.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 6/21/2012 4:45 AM

Anytime, Kirk! You're most welcome!

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 6/21/2012 8:30 AM

"I was reading on Amazon about a book by Dan Gurkis "The Short Screenplay" and he suggests writers avoid: 1.use of weapons as they are too easy of a motivator and lack creativity 2. resolution through death for same reasons and 3. avoid serial killers as they are too overdone.

Is this Short Screenplay 101 or is it one guy's opinion and highly debatable?"

I think it is one man's opinion and debatable.

But, having said that, I think it's still pretty good advice.

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus) ~ 6/21/2012 11:10 AM

"avoid: 1.use of weapons as they are too easy of a motivator and lack creativity 2. resolution through death for same reasons and 3. avoid serial killers as they are too overdone."

Sounds like a monthly challenge.

Scott Merrow (Level 5) ~ 6/21/2012 11:47 AM

I'm glad the creators of "Dexter" ignored Rule #3.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 6/28/2012 1:38 AM

I have a question. I've been looking up this question in google but nothing happens, or I cannot find the answer to the question. How do you show a someone looking down from an airplane?

Ammar Salmi (Level 5) ~ 6/28/2012 10:01 AM

Looking down at what for example? I mean is he inside the plan, looking out? Audience notice his face behind the Plexiglas. Or do you mean you want the audience to see the scene he's watching through the window?

David Birch (Level 5) ~ 7/6/2012 9:11 PM

is anyone else suddenly having a problem with their adobe reader?...especially when trying to read a pdf? it's a really low resolution...i had to install an pdf reader (foxit) and that seems to have helped...just wondering if anyone else has encountered the problem...

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 7/6/2012 9:57 PM

The only problem I had with Adobe reader is whenever I click on my entered scripts for the month's contest, it shows a blank page without a title. So I have to keep re-cliking the entered contest until I can finally read it.

Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 7/6/2012 10:01 PM

Only on my phone... Says the pdf is corrupted.

Bill Sarre (Level 5) ~ 8/15/2012 4:45 PM

Today, I remembered the log line competition in January. Sounds a bit early for that , doesn't it?

Earlier this year I posted my first ever log, on a script I hadn't written, and failed to make it through. In hindsight, even I can see why. So this, err next, year I want to have a better one.

So, whilst this is not so much a specific question (mods please feel free to move this or set up new thread) I wondered whether any others start thinking about the logline competition at this stage? After all, it has to be a script you want to write as well.

Just curious.

David M Troop (Level 5) ~ 8/16/2012 1:25 AM

I had two or three I thought were pretty good last year so I will probably enter one of those.
thanks for the reminder.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 8/16/2012 5:31 PM

I think I have a logline in mind and think it is ready for takeoff.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 8/16/2012 11:13 PM

Bill and Reg - You are so not alone.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 8/18/2012 6:00 PM

Is it possible to add a link in script?
For example "they turn on the radio and special song audible!
And we include that song link in the script.

Is it could happen?
You know someone who did this before?

Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 8/18/2012 7:03 PM

That's a fun suggestion, Masoud.

It is possible to add links within PDFs, but I don't think Final Draft (or the other screenwriting programs) have that feature. If you use a Word macro to write your screenplay, you can likely do it because Word allows you to embed URLs.

Most likely you would have to take the PDF output from Final Draft and open/modify it with Adobe Acrobat Professional. And you'd have to do this every time you have a new PDF.

Good luck.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 8/19/2012 2:49 AM

I really like to do it but worry if it totally wrong in scriptwriting rules...

This is another example:
JACK turn on the TV and in news talk about bombing in cinema (Then write link of special bombing in Cinema that happen in real world)

I know about possibility in software's but worry if its out of scriptwriting rules,coz I never see something like this before

Anita Lindawaty (Level 0) ~ 8/19/2012 4:59 AM

as long as the director 'KNOW' what to do with that link, i think: WHY NOT?
nothing exact rules in scriptwriting format, rite?

what is link about btw? something happen before or after the scene?
if yes, IMHO probably u can write it (in other scene) as flashback past scene for example.
it is more easy to understand by reader and director, i think.
Correct Me If I'm Wrong.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 8/20/2012 12:17 AM

So many new people I'm not yet familiar with! Welcome all.

I've been trying to write a treatment for FERAL, and I'm questioning the logic of writing a logline and then coming up with a plot. Again... My first ten pages sort of bombed on that one, and I'd like to avoid that in future.

If I enter the logline contest in January, and I probably will, I'm going to have an outline to go with the idea just in case I make it to round two. I love making it to round two...

@ Masoud - When you specify a specific song, you should probably have a contract with whomever owns the rights. You won't be able to use it in a film unless you do.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 8/20/2012 12:21 AM

"So many new people I'm not yet familiar with! Welcome all."

I'm a new person.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 8/21/2012 7:40 AM

@ Margaret - Its not my question,
I asked about rules of screenwriting,
Is it possible to tag a link in script?

If I got permission and everything is OK, is it common to tag a link?

(I know if I write singer and tittle of music ,my audience could search on internet and find it but I want to make it easier!)

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 8/22/2012 12:29 AM

Mas - Sorry I got your question wrong.

There are sources for free newsreel footage, but I think they're generally older. If you're using footage or VO from a recent news broadcast, though, I think you have to buy the rights, and make sure you have a legally binding contract.

The best solution I can see is to write the news into the script and let the producer or director decide whether to film it, record it, or try to get the rights to the original.

With news coverage, the story's going to be the same regardless of who tells it, so you can tell it yourself and not have legal rights issues. If there's footage you need to use, you'll have to make certain you can use it BEFORE you reference it, much less post a link...

Another problem I see with posting a link is that it could mess up the one page equals a minute timing. Ten seconds can be a LONG time on film. It certainly takes up a few lines on the written page. A link doesn't take that much space, though.

Putting in a link doesn't tell the writer or producer how many seconds to allot to that newscast, and they aren't just thinking story, hon. They're thinking BUDGET.

I could be wrong, but I don't think I'm far off on most of this.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 8/22/2012 3:54 AM

Thanks Margaret :)

Joseph Conway (Level 2) ~ 8/27/2012 11:24 AM

Yo. In large locations (fields, halls, theaters) do you need to make new headings for different events happening in different areas of the same location/room.

For example, two groups of people are talking in a large hall. Would you have -


First group of friends talk. Blah Blah.


Second ground of friends talk. Blah Blah.


Or would you have it all under the same heading? This is just something I'm worried about.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 8/27/2012 4:18 PM

Nah. You could have the people from the other side of the hall to talk off screen if you don't want to show them.


A group moans at the same time.

Someone from the other side of the hall burps.

Group #1
What you lookin' at?

Group # 2 (O.S.)
What's with him?

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 8/29/2012 12:02 AM

Had anyone tried Final Draft for an Ipad? It's cheap ($30), although they could have made it free, but I'm trying not to judge:) I still want to know if it works before buying.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 8/29/2012 12:22 AM

" they could have made it free"

BTW,Is there any good android software for free?

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 8/29/2012 12:55 AM

as in "had it for free" :)
Why not, we already paid for it, right. I'll be able to use it with my code only anyway.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 8/29/2012 1:02 AM

Understand now...
But there is no Android version :(

Any other suggestion for Android?

Anita Lindawaty (Level 0) ~ 8/29/2012 5:23 AM

$30 in iPad? will try it then!

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 8/29/2012 5:57 AM

Anita, I haven't bought it yet, but I think it's more of an upgrade for those who already has Final Draft.

I might be wrong though. I'll let you know as soon as I open that email and study it a bit :)

Anita Lindawaty (Level 0) ~ 8/30/2012 12:20 AM

Dear Khamanna Iskandarova,

do u meant it's not complete installer?
ok then inform me please before i try it :)

few software cant install directly to iPad, need sync first sometimes.
all program i need to do my work can install in my iPad after IT officer in my office 'doing something' to the software :)

i think it's really nice if i can use final draft in my iPad 2, so i can write wherever i am, including in my meeting room. lol.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 8/30/2012 3:01 AM

I forwarded their offer to you - the way I get it, it's for those who already have an FD software (they are way too cryptic for me sometimes). But it might be not - check it out, if they are not asking for your FD code, then you're fine.

Anita Lindawaty (Level 0) ~ 8/30/2012 6:25 AM

Dear Khamanna Iskandarrova,

did u mean forward to me by email?
how big the file?
as far as i know email attachment cant more than 25 MB :)

Anita Lindawaty (Level 0) ~ 8/30/2012 7:27 AM

Dear Khamanna Iskandarova,

I got ur email. seem it hot offer until 9/30/2012 only (normal price around $50).

i read this notice in their email to u:
"You have received this email because you have previously subscribed to a Final Draft, Inc. email list. If you no longer want to receive these emails, you may CLICK HERE to unsubscribe. Please see our Privacy Policy for details. This email is sent for promotional purposes."

ahh.. wow! i can use it in my iPad 2 and my Mac or PC too.
"Easily move your Final Draft v.8 files (FDX) from desktop to iPad and back again. Your scripts will appear perfectly paginated and formatted to industry standards every time"

seem it's complete installer. will buy it!
anyway thanks for inform me :)

Bill Sarre (Level 5) ~ 10/5/2012 3:19 PM


Started to think about this one and the problem I face is that I don't know where to start. After all there is no specific challenge.

But I had a good idea....go back in time and challenge myself according to previous competitions that I didn't take part in and see what happens.

Just wondered how other writers, who have entered this one before, deal with the lack of theme/genre/task.

All the best.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 10/5/2012 3:47 PM

I would take a scene from my favorite movies or collect ideas from incidents that happen in real life and turn it into fiction.

I have a question. I used all my scripts as unavailable and I'm sure that it shows up on the "Script Rewrites." How can I keep my script rewrites from bumping up on the board?

David M Troop (Level 5) ~ 10/5/2012 4:06 PM


I don't know about the other members, but the December contest is one of my favorites because of the creative freedom (as long as you keep it at 5 pages).
I'll often have some interesting ideas that never fit into a contest, so I just keep them in mind for the Open Contest. For me, it's a chance to write something outside of the box. Stretch the limits. Write outside your comfort zone. Explore new worlds.

But most of all have fun.

Bill Clar (Level 5) ~ 10/6/2012 5:41 PM

I always imposed a Christmas theme on my December entries.

Joseph Conway (Level 2) ~ 10/19/2012 8:09 AM

Hey guys. When you have a scene/s in the script (or a flashback) with young versions of the main characters (e.g. a scene where they are ten years old, but in the rest of the film/majority of the film, they are 40 years old. Good example = Braveheart opening scene with young William Wallace), then what do you call their dialogue titles then?

E.g. Ben is "Ben" when he's 30 years old in 90% of the script. But in the scene where he is 10 years old, do I call his dialogue titles "BEN (TEN YEARS OLD)" or "TEN YEAR OLD BEN" or whatever. My characters go through a lot of different ages that's why I'm avoiding using "YOUNG BEN", "TEENAGE BEN", "FUCKING OLD GEEZER BEN".

Also does it make any difference if I use the word "ten" or the number "10".

Thanks in advance!

Rick Hansberry (Moderator) ~ 10/19/2012 12:10 PM

Joseph, the slug line can help here. For instance if the Flashback is 20 years ago or you give the date in relation to present time - the reader can make the adjustment in their mind's eye. As far as numerous changes in age - this can more of a casting problem than anything. Most times with flashbacks I've seen YOUNGER BEN when treated in the flashback, if BEN has been established as being 30 in the main story.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 11/8/2012 9:54 PM

New one.

An studio rep gave me his email address and asked me to send him loglines for FERAL and TANGLEWOOD and anything else I'm working on as long as it isn't horror. These are all unfinished works. I told him that.

I'm ready to send the loglines, but I'm worried about putting them out there.

Can I register an outline or a treatment? If I can, is it close to being as good as a registered script?

Should I write treatments or outlines before I send him the loglines? Or should I just throw caution to the wind and send the email now?

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 11/8/2012 10:40 PM

Margaret, I had a mentor who advised me to write the treatment, then register it the Writers' Guid of America or the Copyright office to show proof of that you own the rights to the unfinished screenplay. That is applied for those who are very concerned about people stealing your work. I think that was a good advice from my mentor.

Rick Hansberry (Moderator) ~ 11/8/2012 10:40 PM

Margaret, If he asked for loglines, send the loglines.If it's a direct request from a studio rep, you're really not putting things 'out there' to far. You can clearly prove when you sent these loglines to the studio. See if he requests an outline or treatment, then be prepared to deliver. Good luck and keep us posted.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 11/8/2012 10:41 PM

I'm not an expert at this, but I just took the words from my mentor. I haven't really sent anything out, neither did I even had an agent to read my work.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 11/9/2012 12:24 AM

Thank you both. I'll go for it.

Rick Hansberry (Moderator) ~ 11/9/2012 12:30 PM

Good luck, Margaret. Please let us know how things progress.

Matthew Fettig (Level 5) ~ 11/11/2012 1:29 AM

Margret - For what it's worth, remember this - every writer thinks they have the next best blockbuster. No writer has time to write your story because they're busy struggling through their own.

Like Rick said, if they like your idea, be ready to back it up. Studio guys aren't looking to take on extra work, they're looking for someone to make their job easy. Play like a pro. Send them want they want. And be ready to work with them if they like what they see.

Pros want to do deals. Amateurs want to fight over rights. Be a pro. Assume they know you own the rights. They asked for your work.

Good luck. Get the deal. Then tell us how good it feels!

Olga Tremaine (Level 5) ~ 12/13/2012 2:15 PM

Okay guys, here is a VERY stupid question:

Someone wants to buy one of my shorts. They are asking what paperwork do they need in order to do that. I understood they don't want to do an option, just buy it. What is the exact name of the contract? Release Agreement? Purchase Contract?.... I'd like to know the correct name so I can google it (or any links would be helpful). I feel quite dumb and nervous (don't want to come across as a total newbie), even though pretty sure they're new themselves too.

Thanks in advance!

Olga Tremaine (Level 5) ~ 12/13/2012 3:48 PM

Help! The guy wrote me again and seems very excited to start the process (and I don't want to slow him down). Can anyone help me please? *bites nails*
Sorry if I seem desperate. Because I am!

Kirk White (Level 5) ~ 12/13/2012 4:36 PM

I think it's called a purchase agreement and for a short it can be a simple document.

Olga Tremaine (Level 5) ~ 12/13/2012 8:04 PM

Thanks Kirk. I think I figured it out.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 12/13/2012 8:49 PM

If the movie, This is 40, is 147 minutes long, then how come screenwriter in general can't exceed the limit of a 120-page screenplay?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 12/14/2012 12:22 AM

Keep it under 120 (110 is better) if you're an unknown screenwriter. Just a general rule in the business since most amatuer scripts that are long have too much fat on them.

Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 12/14/2012 1:11 AM

Another reason... The man who wrote it is also the producer and director.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 12/14/2012 1:12 AM


William Bienes (Mod Emeritus) ~ 12/14/2012 1:15 AM

Because people don't want to read them. Simple as that. I aim for 105-109. Readers love seeing under 110.

Bill Clar (Level 5) ~ 12/14/2012 8:35 AM

Frankenweenie is 79 pages.

Daniel Botha (Level 3) ~ 1/2/2013 5:50 PM

Here's a question in relation to MP.

Does a re-write have to be under the 5 page limit as well, or can I expand on the idea further??

David M Troop (Level 5) ~ 1/2/2013 6:02 PM

The rewrite is a beautiful thing.
There are no limits as far as page count.
However, if you want someone to consider filming it, I would keep it at ten pages or less.

Daniel Botha (Level 3) ~ 1/3/2013 10:18 PM

Thanks David.

I was just wondering because I have some ideas to expand on my latest entry.

Deepu Jaxon (Level 3) ~ 1/10/2014 4:30 AM

With the promise that I am not participating in the on-going loglines contest (I am simply not that good ...yet )I have a question regarding loglines.

How would one write loglines for scripts falling under the below categories:

multi-narrative , Hyperlink , reverse-chronology , etc.

Example Films: Babel , Go , Memento , Pulp fiction , Irreversible(French) , Rashomon , City of God.

I assume the loglines alone of these films wouldn't be that intriguing to say get placed in a contest like MPs but the scripts on the other hand would be a totally different story. Or am i wrong here , can someone please explain how to write logline for such scripts.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 1/10/2014 11:06 AM

For "Memento" and "Irreversible," a straightforward logline would probably suffice. You could start with, "Told in reverse chronology..." but that takes away from the story and puts more focus on the storytelling. But if the gimmick is what makes your story stand out, then it wouldn't hurt to mention it. It's a matter of taste. These are terribly-written attempts, but some will prefer:

"A man with short-term memory loss struggles with knowing who he can trust as he searches for his wife's killer."

"After his fiancé is brutally raped and beaten, a man and his best friend delve into Paris's seedy underbelly in order to get revenge against the man responsible.

And others will prefer:

"Unfolding non-linearly, a man with short-term memory loss struggles with knowing who he can trust as he searches for his wife's killer."

"Told in reverse, after his fiancé is brutally raped and beaten, a man and his best friend delve into Paris's seedy underbelly in order to get revenge against the man responsible.

Ultimately, though, it's your story so you choose the way you want to sell it.

With multi-narrative/ensemble pieces, there's usually (and should be) an overall theme or incident connecting the sub-plots and characters. Again, these aren't at all good, but they work as examples:

"After a man's wife is raped, witnesses tell vastly different stories of how the crime transpired."

"The accidental shooting of a tourist in Morocco sets of a series of events spanning three continents that are hampered by the participants' inability to proper communicate with one another.

The rape is the incident in the first example; the inability to communicate is the theme in the second.

Even with "Babel," you could say that the Brad Pitt/Cate Blanchett arc is the primary story and us that for a more traditional logline:

"A couple struggling to save their marriage vacations in Morocco; but when the wife is shot, the husband does everything he can to save her life."

The same can go for "Pulp Fiction":

"Two hitmen tasked with retrieving their boss's stolen briefcase must overcome bumbling thieves, a car full of blood, and a restaurant robbery in order to get the job done."

Even with an ensemble piece, you usually can find a nominal protagonist, so by using that character, their main antagonistic force, and their goal, you can still create a logline that encapsulates what your script is about.

Overall, though, the key is to know what your story is about or revolves around and focus in on that with your logline. Remember that with a logline you're not trying to tell the whole story but just enough to get someone thinking, "Hey, that's interesting; I wouldn't mind hearing more/reading the script."

Hopefully there's something worthwhile for you in the above.

Deepu Jaxon (Level 3) ~ 1/10/2014 1:02 PM

Thank you Zach for the detailed reply , it sure is very helpful.

a bit sad at your use of the word gimmick though :(. I recall reading your views on non-linear narration in some old posts as well. Guess you don't prefer it :).

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 1/10/2014 1:36 PM

Gimmick doesn't necessarily have a negative connotation. It's just a device used to draw attention to something, whether good or bad. 3D is a gimmick, shooting narrative films with IMAX cameras is a gimmick, unusually storytelling is a gimmick. Hell, even directors are gimmicks -- "A new film by Quentin Tarantino/Martin Scorsese/Alfred Hitchcock/The Coen Brothers/Steven Spielberg/Christopher Nolan/Terrence Malick/Tim Burton/Stanley Kubrick."

"Looper" had a couple gimmicks that lead me to see it: time travel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt made-up like Bruce Willis.

And "Jurassic Park"'s whole marketing campaign was based upon the gimmick that Spielberg brought dinosaurs to life.

Now, for me, what drew me to those movies didn't matter in the end because I see them as good films that had more to offer than their initial conceits.

And I have no problem with non-linear storytelling -- "Citizen Kane," "The Prestige," "Pulp Fiction," "21 Grams," and other similarly structured films are some of my favorites -- but that doesn't mean it's not a gimmick. The thing is, those films are more than how they tell their stories. A successful film/story rises above broad strokes and gimmicks.

Deepu Jaxon (Level 3) ~ 1/11/2014 2:01 PM

Thanks again Zach :)

Greg Gibbons (Level 3) ~ 2/8/2014 1:11 PM

I haven't found anything on the site that addresses content restrictions (read: censorship), in particular profanity. Are there rules here? (obviously within acceptable bounds of decency)

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 2/8/2014 2:56 PM

Some folks might knock a script because they're "offended by it," but I say let loose. I mean, you're 99% not going to win or place or anything so if that's a goal you'll probably want to do something benign.

But there've been some gory scripts, some with defecation, others with peculiar sex (one of mine had a female character drip semen into a toilet after sex in a church bathroom), etc.

I say anything goes so long as it's purposeful to the story or plot. Hell, I don't even care too much to that extent since sometimes you want to be exploitive for the sake of being exploitive. But again, not everyone has as open a mind as I do.

Good luck.

Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 2/8/2014 3:29 PM

^ "anything goes so long as it's purposeful to the story or plot"

Well said, as always, Zach.

I've written a few scripts that did well but were marked down by some people because I had a character fart (for humorous effect, of course). Those people were offended. By a fart.

Do I think even commenting on a fart in a script is ridiculous? Yes. Absolutely and totally. Unless the fart served no purpose.

Yes, that sounded hilarious even to me.

The point being that you can never tell if something you write will offend someone... so write what you need to write. No, write what the STORY needs you to write.

But write.

Deepu Jaxon (Level 3) ~ 2/8/2014 4:01 PM

Can someone please tell me the word used to describe the type of story telling where the characters interact with the viewer/reader showing that he/she is aware of being in a novel or film. I know its called "breaking the fourth wall" but I read a single word used for it by none other than Zach in one of the forums. I had then looked up the word to understand what it means. But now I have forgotten it :(. I tried searching the internet and also few forums here but with no success :(.

Philip Whitcroft (Level 5) ~ 2/8/2014 7:10 PM


Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 2/8/2014 10:10 PM

Yeah, meta is what comes to my mind, too. It can also be considered a form of postmodernism.

Deepu Jaxon (Level 3) ~ 2/9/2014 9:33 AM

That's a BINGO !! Thanks guys :)

Gregory Flothe (Level 3) ~ 2/11/2014 12:18 PM

Would "meta" also describe the style or gimmick where the live actor is in the same frame with characters from a film or TV series, like "Forrest Gump" or a reverse of "The Purple Rose of Cairo?"

A friend of mine and I are working on a project that has the actor superimposed in scenes from classic TV series' like "Gilligan's Island," "M*A*S*H," etc. It would take a good attorney to secure the rights to all of that, of course. :)

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 2/11/2014 1:28 PM

Forewarning: I'm no expert, but I've read a lot, seen a lot, written a lot, so I'll give my self-educated take. I know there are a few more well-read and academically learned members who'll have more insight on this, so hopefully they're able to contribute as well.

I wouldn't consider FORREST GUMP meta -- it's just inserting the character into history. Forrest happens to be in certain situations with little regard for irony: The film is told straight-faced so while it's a neat editing technique, Forrest being where he is doesn't real require more from the audience than "Hey, he met JFK" or "Good thing he got in on Apple early." Yeah, it's cute and we can smile with having hindsight of 20/20, but (and I'm a big of the movie, so this isn't a knock) I don't see it going much deeper than that. Then again, I'm sure someone could make a valid argument that FORREST GUMP is a great example of meta-fiction and depending on they present their evidence, could be correct in that stance.

THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, though, is more so since it has a character leaving the fictional world and interacting with the real world. But since it's the real world of the movie, I would say it's not as strongly meta as a character breaking the fourth wall. Yes, there's the irony of the character existing on the same plane as the actor portraying him, but for all intents and purposes, a film within a film/play within a play is probably the most basic form of meta-fiction -- we, the audience, are watching characters in a film/play watching characters in a film/play. So in the world of the film, PURPLE ROSE is meta-fictional, but only in the fact that it references and interacts with itself and its characters within its world; but I wouldn't say it's as meta as breaking the fourth wall (of having Jeff Daniels step out of your TV and into your living room) since it doesn't require the viewer to be too active in its self-references or ironies.

With the project you mentioned, Gregory, how meta it is depends upon how the actor is inserted into a scene. If he's a part of the action -- another castaway on the island or private in Korea -- then no, it's not meta since he's acting and reacting within the confines of the show's world. If he, say, makes jokes a la MST3K ("Hey, guys, there's a boat on the other of the island," and then is ignored) or gives a "Really?" look at the camera ("I made a radio out of coconuts," *Really?*), then you've added irony that invites the audience into the situation, almost making it another character, and you've got meta material.

Gregory Flothe (Level 3) ~ 2/11/2014 3:25 PM

Thanks, Zach. Our project, WELCOME BACK!, is more like your last example, where the live actor is self-aware and not just a static character in the old TV show episodes. That does make it meta material in my mind (forgive the alliteration!).

It will take serious re-watching of all those classic TV shows to weave them into a story, but it's an interesting concept for a film.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 2/11/2014 3:34 PM

PLEASANTVILLE is one of my favorite movies, so good luck with your project -- sounds really fun.

Phoebe Oh (Level 2) ~ 2/16/2014 3:10 PM

Quick question (pretty stupid, sorry)- if you have a character with a name like, say, "Kaitlin", but they're always called/referred to as "Kate", should you write them as "Kaitlin" or "Kate"? And what would happen if it was the same character, but they were not only called "Kate", but "Katie" as well? What should I call her then? Thanks in advance. :)

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5) ~ 2/16/2014 4:03 PM

Phoebe, I'd say that if the character is always called Kate, then her name (for screenplay purposes) should be Kate. My two cents is that the name that is used most is how she should be introduced and over her dialogue. It could then easily be understood by the reader that the other forms of her name are being used familiarly, particularly by people who know her in different walks of life (parent, sibling, grandparent, coach).

Phoebe Oh (Level 2) ~ 2/16/2014 4:12 PM

Okay, great; thanks, Kyle! Another question - when describing characters, I notice that some people describe them as they're introduced, and others just have the character's name and their age afterwards. What dictates when you use either description, or if/when you use both descriptors?
If you don't know what I mean-

JULIA, an attractive high school dropout, raises her hand.


JULIA, 27, an attractive high school dropout, raises her hand.

Or even

JULIA, 27, raises her hand.

Just a little curious, because I've seen a little of each, and I can't seem to figure out what the deciding factor is. Help?

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 2/16/2014 5:05 PM

For me, it depends upon the character's role in the script. Main and supporting characters should be given a proper once-over, while walk-on or one-off characters would probably only need a quick word or two.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5) ~ 2/16/2014 5:24 PM

Yup. I'm with Zach.

In fact, the protagonist (main character) might even deserve a whole action paragraph devoted to his/her description.

Then each minor character can be differentiated from each other by their own shorter descriptions (or lack of them). A very minor or throwaway character (like CLERK or BARTENDER) don't need any description or age at all, because any actor can be cast in a tiny role like that. You can give the reader a lot of information about a minor character, in other words, by not saying anything about them at all.

KP Mackie (Level 5) ~ 2/17/2014 5:01 PM

Welcome to MoviePoet, Phoebe.

ZJ and KPJ are very good writers.
I agree as well...

As a voracious reader of screenplays and books, I would add that I get excited when I read a character introduction in a script that includes information about the character's personality in addition to their approximate age (20s, early 30s, 40 are brief and easier to cast than 22, 37, 53). For Julia above, I would list her age as late 20s. It really helps a reader begin to form a mental picture of a character.

IMHO, the real bonus is if a character is introduced "in action"; it's like the old addage that you really learn about someone by what they do or which fork they take in a road. Having said that, it's not always easy to do.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 2/17/2014 9:25 PM

Excellent point, KP. I'll agonize over what my protagonist should when we first meet him/her. Some are easier than others -- if your character's job is important to the story, that can be a nice intro -- but when you get it right it's great.