The Proper Use Of Inserts In a Screenplay

How To Use Inserts In Your Screenplay.

Learning how to write the correct shots in a screenplay give the script reader a focal point.

By Chicago Screenplay Awards Dept.

Shots are formatted in a manner that is similar to a scene heading; which means that they have a flush left margin and are written in all CAPS. There is always a blank line before and after a shot.

Shots are used to tell a reader that the focal point within a scene has now changed. Some common examples of shots include:

POV
PAN TO
REVERSE ANGLE

You should only use a shot when it is absolutely necessary to redirect the focus of the reader. If you use shots more frequently there is the risk of interrupting the flow of the story. Remember, your job is not to direct the story but to write it.

In some cases a shot may be truly necessary. For instance, you may feel that the reader needs to see something that would not be otherwise obvious within the scene. A shot allows you to do that.

Example:

DEVON
And to make matters even better, it’s bumper to bumper traffic today.

ANGLE ON – A BLUE CONVERTIBLE ZIPS AHEAD OF DEVON’S CAR.
An insert shot may also be used in some cases. An insert shot is only used as a direction in order to focus on something that is critical to the scene. In most cases, it will be used to focus on something that the audience must see that would be too small to be clearly seen in a scene that is full and wide.

In the latter example, the best approach is to write everything in action (it’s always best to write action and avoid direction). For example:

DEVON
And to make matters even better, it’s bumper to bumper traffic today.

Just then—a BLUE CONVERTIBLE zips ahead of Devon’s car.

 

Inserts

Like most shots, you should only use an insert shot when it is absolutely necessary. If you have an action paragraph that is well constructed you may be able to reach the same goal without the need to distract the reader.

Page Breaks

When you need to end a page, keep in mind that you should never end a page using a scene heading unless you have a shot or another scene heading immediately following; such as an establishing shot and an interior shot.

You should also never start a page using a transition or end a page by using a character name line. Make sure you have a minimum of two lines of dialogue if there is more than one. In addition, be sure that you never end a page using a parenthetical. You should always make sure dialogue follows. If you have dialogue and then a parenthetical and then more dialogue, be sure to break the page before the parenthetical.

This process can be much easier with script writing software because it will usually automatically handle all of this for you.

Adding Finer Touches

The above rules will help you to write a script that is industry standard acceptable. By following these rules your script will appear to be professionally written and no one will automatically assume that you are a novice or amateur script writer. With that said, there are a few finer touches that you can use to really give your script the mark of a honed professional.

 

Some popular camera angle inserts in film.

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