Writing a Screenplay

In Media Production, Unit 2, VCE Media

When writing a screenplay there are certain rules that you must abide by that are the conventions of the format. The easiest way to see an example of what the formatting looks like in a screenplay is to look at this Suggested Script Layout from Screen Australia.

You can see from that document that there a specific rules for font types, sizes and spacing for what a screenplay needs to look like. There are five parts of a script you need to know:

SCENE HEADING / SLUGLINE

Sometimes called the ‘slugline’, the scene heading tells you the number of the scene, the time of day the scene is set (INT. – interior, EXT. – exterior), where the scene is set and what time of day (DAY. NIGHT. DAWN. ). The scene heading is always written in capitals.

ACTION PARAGRAPHS

Action paragraphs (or body text) describe what is happening within a scene. They are written in present tense. When characters appear for the first time their names will be in capitals, same with any significant props or visual effects needed.

CHARACTER

The name of the character appears before their lines in the script, their name will be indented at all capitals.

DIALOGUE

The lines a character say. If heard Off Screen (O.S.) will be used. If it’s a Voice Over (V.O.) will be used.

PARENTHETICAL

Parentheticals may be used within dialogue to give direction on how a line may be said.

 

A great way to get a feel for screenplays is to read some from films you know well. Read a few scenes and then watch the film again to see how the screenplay and film compare. Are there any differences? Why might there be differences between a screenplay and the finished film?

Sample Film Scripts

The Dark Knight Screenplay

Mean Girls Screenplay

Writing A Screenplay

The easiest way to write a screenplay is to use special screenplay software to take care of all the formatting for you. An easy and free option is CeltX which will allow you to either download a standalone program or do it online. There is a free version for both online and download – select the free trial and then afterwards choose the free option.

 

Screenplay Resources

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