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Spec Script vs Shooting Script

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northernwriter View Drop Down
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    Posted: 20 Mar 2021 at 11:58pm
Hi,

I understand that we are using formatting for a spec script and not a shooting script. However, for my idea to work, I have to include one specific direction. Suggestions for how I would do this? Would I include a note where the logline/synopsis goes up front? Or would I include the direction when I get to it in the action? 

Thanks,
Alex
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote NilesPerry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Mar 2021 at 3:49pm
Alex, I think it depends on the direction, but if it's something that absolutely has to be pointed out and needs focus drawn to it, then just write it as part of the screenplay itself. Incorporate it into the action. Does it require a CLOSE UP? If so, use that as your scene header, then be sure to create another scene header labeled BACK TO SCENE to designate that you've left the CLOSE UP. It's impossible to write a screenplay that has absolutely no camera direction in it. There are required scene headers that are necessary to be able to call the work a screenplay. When people refer to directing on paper, they mean those writers who have broken down every shot in the film on paper... INT., EXT., ZOOM, PAN, HAND-HELD, DRONE, CLOSE UP, and on and on. If you are consciously keeping the camera business to a minimum, then drawing emphasis to one detail shouldn't land you in any hot seats for directing on paper. If you like, send me the "direction" and I can help you format it so it's the least obtrusive it can be.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wienerdogparty89 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Mar 2021 at 4:14pm
Would anyone be able to elaborate a bit more on this "spec" vs "shooting" script rule? This is my first time participating and I don't really understand the distinction, here. We're writing screenplays, so they are going to include visual cues that are important to the story...


Niles -- everything you said makes sense, but having "CLOSE ON (object)" is a no-no?  I just don't want to get disqualified for something that makes no sense. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote catnamedeaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Mar 2021 at 5:55pm
Originally posted by wienerdogparty89 wienerdogparty89 wrote:

Would anyone be able to elaborate a bit more on this "spec" vs "shooting" script rule? This is my first time participating and I don't really understand the distinction, here. We're writing screenplays, so they are going to include visual cues that are important to the story...


Niles -- everything you said makes sense, but having "CLOSE ON (object)" is a no-no?  I just don't want to get disqualified for something that makes no sense. 

The short screenplay challenge last year was my first time writing a screenplay. I found lots of useful information by just Googling the two. I found this pretty clear and helpful: 

The first difference is that a spec script is written for a reader, not a director. It’s not like a novel, but it should flow more like prose, where as a shooting script is more of a production document. The action lines in a spec script should be as descriptive as possible, but as concise as possible. You can use flowery prose, but keep it short. 

Camera direction should not be used in a spec script. It should flow and be easy to read, void of any technical jargon that slows down the reader. 


You should write a spec script for this competition.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pondsandfrogs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Mar 2021 at 9:38pm
Originally posted by wienerdogparty89 wienerdogparty89 wrote:

Would anyone be able to elaborate a bit more on this "spec" vs "shooting" script rule? This is my first time participating and I don't really understand the distinction, here. We're writing screenplays, so they are going to include visual cues that are important to the story...


Niles -- everything you said makes sense, but having "CLOSE ON (object)" is a no-no?  I just don't want to get disqualified for something that makes no sense. 

My take: You're not going to get disqualified for including a couple "CLOSE ON", "PAN", etc. directions in your script. Just make sure it's essential. But our real estate in these competitions isn't much anyway, so just focus on progressing the plot, setting the scene, or colorizing your characters. Speaking for myself, I did indulge and include one "CLOSE ON" in my script for this round, but other than that, bare action is what I (try to) go for. 

Judges seem to always comment on story, characters, etc. rather than the formatting (at least in my experience). 

Best of luck!
-EJ


Edited by pondsandfrogs - 25 Mar 2021 at 1:03pm
Y'all are so talented!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote JustinW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Mar 2021 at 12:56pm
I'm not an expert, but my take on this is that your action descriptions lead the eye, and so does the implied action in what your characters say, and the emotion driving the scene. I don't include anything but the bare bones scene headings and character names. We're not breaking our script down into shooting and directing notes. The reader will direct in their mind's eye.

Writing a screenplay is like writing poetry. It has rules of structure and uses language sparingly and with maximum emotional weight. I think that's what the judges will care about.
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