Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Submissions for This Week's Meeting (10/29/2009)

Hey all, this week we have two screenplays from Mark and Neil. I realize that many of you are not familiar with screenwriting jargon and what exactly constitutes good vs. bad screenwriting. So Neil has been kind enough to make a list of terms that should help clarify some of the genre-specific notations/formatting. Also, Neil is going to give a brief introduction (approximately 15 minutes) to the art of screenwriting. Some questions to consider when reading the screenplays: Does the plot make sense? Are there any holes? Do the characters have strong voices and presence? Does the dialogue flow well? Do people talk like robots or human beings? Basically, think of critiquing a screenplay like a fiction story, except the language in descriptions is only important for conveying the basic physical ideas. The most important parts of screenwriting come in the strength of characters, plot structure, and dialogue.

Some terms from Neil:

Here's a few key terms you need to know before reading a screenplay:

You'll see things stating setting, time, and place -- They are called scene headings. For example:

"INT. SCOTT'S APARTMENT - NIGHT" -- This says we are inside Scott's apartment at night.

"EXT." -- is outside Scott's apartment.

"I/E." -- means we move inside and outside.

"Continuous" means it is a continuous flow of action.


"(beat)" between lines of dialogue mean it is an actor cue to make a gesture that is indescribable to the writer.

"(OS)" means off-screen. It is a voice that isn't on screen, but it in the general vicinity.

"(VO)" means voice-over. Think Morgan Freeman.

We capitalize characters the first and only the first time we see them.

A montage usually is indicated by (series of shots/montage) then a list.

Sometime in scenes you'll read THE HALLWAY followed by more description. This lets you know we are in a hallway of Scott's apartment (or whatever location).

Parentheticals can be found after a character's name and they usually indicate to whom the character is speaking to. For example --

(to class)
I love riot ink.

Often, screenwriters will put emotion into parentheticals for the reader's benefit.

I love riot ink.

It's hard to tell tone sometimes, but an addition like this clarifies it. It can be anything really -- genuine/angry/sad/yelling/etc.


And here is a poem to inspire you all:

I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script
By Steve Jarrett
Inspired by an essay by Josh Olson
With apologies to Theodore Geisel...

I will not read your fucking script
I will not read it in a car
I will not read it in a bar
I will not have it in my house
I will not click it with my mouse
I will not read it here or there
I will not read it anywhere
I'd rather be tied up and whipped
Than have to read your fucking script

I will not read your fucking script
I will not read its exposition
I will not read its scene transitions
I will not read its dialogue
I will not read its epilogue
I'll leave its pages quite unflipped
I will not read your fucking script

I will not read your fucking script
I won't discuss its plot reversals
I won't attend its cast rehearsals
I won't discuss its complication
I won't discuss its adumbrations
I won't discuss its camera angles
Its syntax I won't disentangle
I won't critique its denouement
Nor its hero's tragic flaw
My lips remain securely zipped
I will not read your fucking script

I will not read your fucking script
I will not read it as a lark
I will not read it in the dark
I will not read it on a drunk
I will not read it in a funk
I will not read it on a dare
I will not read it for a scare
Until they lay me in my crypt
I will not read your fucking script


The first act (15 pgs) of a Glee spec by Neil

The first 15 pages of a feature length by Mark

Meeting place same old 5:30 - 7:00 pm at 3.108 Communications Building at UT.

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