Yes this thing is on!

I’ve been buried for the last few months with plowing through a record number of scripts for two top-tier screenplay competitions (plus the development of 3 features and day-to-day coverage notes).  As summer breaks I can finally see the light so here’s a quick rundown of my top three trends and annoyances that hurt some of scripts read.

3) Describing characters’ relationships, jobs, behaviors, thoughts etc., in the action blocks without showing and/or revealing these traits on screen.  Character intros ARE NOT bios for the actors to understand, they are the audience’s first impressions so the action blocks need to reveal the character (succinctly and creatively) by giving this visual art form something to watch.

The top two have more to do with formatting; while I try to give every premise it’s due, fact is the industry won’t and doesn’t stand for improper formatting.  If you want to play with the big boys, learn how to use their toys.

2) (parentheticals) not just the overuse of them, but so many writers of late embed them in the dialogue blocks.  First, if you want to give the actors room to develop that bio you introduced the character with — you don’t need to use a parenthetical to tell them how.  But more importantly, these are really beats when used best (and sparingly) to break up longer passages of dialogue, or of course to imply a feeling that isn’t obvious, so when they are embedded without a line break — it just drains the momentum altogether.

Do it like this but only if you must:

I love the way the writer nails this passage.

Dant Dant Da…

1) Single spacing between scenes.  Yep you read that right.  Standard screenplay formatting is a double line space between the last line of the previous scene and the slugline of the next.  I know there are some software programs that use single as the default, and all I can say is ‘sorry, you get what you pay for’.  When someone has gigabytes of scripts to read — they get into a groove and the single space is like downshifting.  Plus if it ever did go to a shooting script breakdown, your screenplay is going to be longer and scenes may be cut that you’re not happy with.  Double space between scenes, no CUT TO is needed.

On the plus side, incredible entries this year, and man, so many great spec pilots (more than spec features) points to the series domination we are on the cusp of.

Stay tooned, coming soon is a bit about racism on the silver screen.