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Article title:   Sample Script Page
First posted:   Wed 01 Sep 2004
Article text:



The afternoon of a day in late spring. The one-story frame houses have mostly dirt yards. Dogs bark. Somewhere o.c. a mother's voice calls: "Bobby! Time for supper! Wash up!"

Now the CAMERA TRAVELS UP a weeded walk, to a set of broken steps, and stops before a torn screen door.


MRS. DEXTER is a dowdy Caucasian in her 40's with the look of a self-sacrificing missionary about her. A do-gooder worn thin by the years. Beside her, a stone-faced Black lad of 9. His name's Simon, his mood defiant.

Social Worker MISS HICKS, standing in front of them, is professional and aloof.

He's a saint, Miss Hicks. Even if we
didn't receive a cent of State's money
toward his upkeep, he'd be welcome.
He's a joy. A real joy.

She smiles benevolently.

Smile at the lady, Simon.

Simon glares at the Social Worker.

(to Miss Hicks)
He's a shy thing, he is.
(to Simon)
Aren't you shy, darlin'? Sure you are.

Script Notes

Let's start at the beginning. FADE IN.

The first words on a script are: FADE IN. Always. Don't title the page. Don't put a header at the top or footnotes at the bottom.

The next thing you see is a Slug Line and don't ask me why it's called a Slug Line. I don't have a clue. Anyway, a Slug Line tells many cast and crew members what they need to do in order to shoot this scene, but if you'll just remember 4 key members, you'll never again write an incorrect Slug Line.

The first piece of information in a Slug Line goes to the First Assistant Director who does the scheduling and only wants to know if this is a scene that will be shot outside (EXT.) or inside (INT.).

The second piece of information goes to the Location Manager who wants to know what he needs to physically go out and find, then contract for. He wants to know where this scene will be shot. In this case it will be shot in a RUNDOWN ARIZONA NEIGHBORHOOD.

The third piece of information is for the Set Decorator, but there's almost never anything to tell him when you call for an EXT (exterior) scene. He'll be working ahead of the crew, inside the place where they will be shooting next.

The last bit of information is for the Lighting Technician. He wants to know one thing and one thing only: Should he/she bring equipment for a DAY shoot, or for a NIGHT shoot. He cannot light "Later", or "Continuous", or "Two Hours Later". He can only light for Day or for Night.

Next is a narrative that's called an Opening Narrative. There has to be one after every Slug Line. It will answer 3 questions for the crew: WHO is in the scene, WHAT is going on, and HOW the scene looks.

As you introduce a character, be sure to CAP their name. The reason is that casting needs to know, at a glance through the script, how many actors will need to be hired for this film - and it tells the actor where his role in the film begins. Cap the name one time only: the first time they are seen onscreen.

There are only two times you use caps in narrative: when you introduce a new character and when you (dare to) give a camera direction. That's all. Never cap sound. Not in a Submission Script.

Character description. How boring if I'd written: Mrs. Dexter (40) is tall and skinny, with a mole on her cheek and a slightly crooked left arm. Her eyes are brown and her hair is grey. She wears a housedress with a tear in the sleeve and sturdy shoes.

Oh, come on now. The Wardrobe Mistress or Master knows darn well how one would dress a dowdy woman with the look of a self-sacrificing missionary about her. That's why they make the big bucks. Just tell us about the character.

Miss Hicks is the Socal Worker, but she's not a main character so I didn't give her an age or physical description. It's immaterial.

Notice that the dialogue has, over it, the name of the character who'll be delivering the lines. That name will go on the CHARACTER'S NAME TAB. Put it smack in the center of your page.

All dialogue must have a name over it.

Under the character's name I've given you an example of Dialogue Direction. In this case, Mrs. Dexter is to say the lines directly into the camera. Do NOT use it to say things like (sweetly) or (angrily) unless you're positive the actor will never be able to tell from the written word how to deliver the line.

And now the dialogue itself. Write like people talk. Don't write "We ought to" and "it would be good to do that, Joseph" ... write "we oughta" and "it'd be good if we did that, Joseph".

Mrs. Dexter's dialogue is broken by narrative. When it starts again, (CONT'D) is beside her name to simply tell her that she has more dialogue. And then narrative interrupts again. When she speaks again, CONT'D has a 2 after it; the second time that she's had
continued dialogue.

If the scene continues onto the following page then, on the 4th tab that you've set up,you'll write CONTINUED.

A script page CANNOT end on a Slug Line.
A script page CANNOT end on an open line.

If the character's dialogue is too long to finish on a script page then write the word (MORE), using the character's name tab (center of the page). When you continue the character's name on the next page it will have (CONT'D)after it.

I didn't cover every aspect of screenwriting (you'll find all of that in my book!), but this will help you get set up properly.

I wish you the best, you know that
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Copyright 2005, Esther Luttrell. All Rights Reserved.