Shot Headings: Misc.

 In How To Write a Screenplay, Screenplay Blog, Screenplay Format, Shot Headings

Following Time of Day, there’s a little category I like to call miscellaneous (excluding weather, these are all functions of time). You can lump the following in this category:

  • Time
  • Date
  • Weather
  • Continuous Action
  • Flashback / Present Day

TIME

There are different way to imply time in a slug line. Please see the below examples as reference:

From Paddy Chayefsky’s The Hospital:

HOSPITAL. MORNING. 8:00 A.M.

LONG SHOT of the hospital, now alive and jumping. Taxis pull up and out of the large U-shaped drive. A noisy picket line of about twenty chanting protesters parade with signs in an uneven ellipse.

A modern screenwriter would probably write the above like this:

EXT. HOSPITAL – MORNING – 8:00 A.M.

I am not worthy of rewriting Paddy Chayefsky. Please see Mr. Chayefsky’s 1971 shooting script of The Hospital for more information.

From Tate Taylor’s adaptation of The Help:

INT. LEEFOLT HOME – KITCHEN – LATER THAT DAY

Skeeter smokes while watching through a window as the bridge club girls say goodbye.

From Horrible Bosses by Michael Markowitz and Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley:

INT. HARKEN’S OFFICE – CLOSE ON A VIDEOTAPE REPLAY – MOMENTS LATER

of the lobby security camera footage on a television. The time code at the bottom of the screen reads “6:02.” We see Nick looking up at the camera and silently mouthing the word “Fuck!” The image freezes and we PULL BACK to see Harken holding the remote. Nick across from him.

DATE

Does the scene take place on a particular date? From J.F.K. by Oliver Stone & Zachary Sklar:

DEALEY PLAZA – THAT DAY (NOV. 22, 1963)

We see a massive overhead shot of the Plaza as it lay then. Credits conclude under shot – and we have the subtitle “November 22, 1963.”

WEATHER

From John Romano’s adaptation of The Lincoln Lawyer:

INT. LINCOLN TOWN CAR (MOVING) IN A HARD RAIN--

GRADUALLY FADE IN, under the SOUND of rain & freeway, his DRIVER, black, 20s, low pater to which Mick barely listens--

Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “is it the day or night?” Well, I left out the next action paragraph that indicates it’s the morning. If I were writing the scene, I would do it like this:

INT. LINCOLN TOWN CAR – DAY (RAIN)

GRADUALLY FADE IN, under the SOUND of rain & freeway, his DRIVER, black, 20s, low pater to which Mick barely listens--

The “SOUND of rain & freeway” would tell me they’re moving (though, they could be parked on the freeway). You could also write it like this:

INT. LINCOLN TOWN CAR (MOVING)  – DAY – RAIN

GRADUALLY FADE IN, under the SOUND of rain & freeway, his DRIVER, black, 20s, low pater to which Mick barely listens--

CONTINUOUS

The use of “CONTINUOUS” implies that there is no time has passed between the current scene and the previous. From Scream by Kevin Williamson:

EXT. ROAD – CONTINUOUS

Sidney races to where the van lay on its side.  Sidney peers through the windshield...Gale’s body lay limp and bloody.

FLASHBACK

From Zombieland by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick:

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT – FLASHBACK

Superimposed onscreen: A TITLE: Then on Friday night...

FLAGSTAFF is at his computer, lit by the pale glow of the screen, one hand under his waistband. His desk is a mess: Soda-can forest. Star Trek Voyager DVDs. Sticky keyboard.

And here’s how they get us back to present day:

INT. ESCALADE – DAY – PRESENT

ALBUQUERQUE and FLAGSTAFF have resumed driving down the freeway. Flagstaff is staring at DEAD, CHARRED DRIVERS in BURNED VEHICLES.

Now, there are many ways to do flashbacks (which I will elaborate on in a future post), but I’d stick with the formatting the guys who made the highest grossing zombie movie of all time went with. It worked for them.

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Start typing and press Enter to search

Screenplay Title Page