SCREENPLAY – FORMAT AND STYLE

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Screenplays are essential when planning and communicating a film. They narrate the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters and my group’s piece began as a rough copy on paper. However, a bunch of scribbles on a page won’t cut the professional level A2 Media Studies demands and so it was my job to digitally produce a screenplay and I did so with the help of the program “Celtx”.

celtx02xCeltx is a free, downloadable program that allows its users to “tell better stories” and makes producing a screenplay an easy and efficient process. A legitimate screenplay has to adhere to certain rules and a specific format and I found it was my responsibility to research, learn and apply these rules to work.

It is mandatory that writers use the Courier type face in size 12 point which the standard of one page of text per one minute of screen time is derived and the paper size of A4 should be featured.

The dialogue must be centred and the names must be capitalized. A script usually begins with “FADE IN:”, followed by the first scene description. It might get more specific, e.g. “FADE IN ON AN ECU (extreme-close-up) of Ricky as he explains the divorce to Bob.” A script will usually end with “FADE TO BLACK”, though there are variables, like “CUT TO BLACK” for abrupt endings.

I was lucky enough to find a detailed guide about how to professionally format a screenplay. Here, I learnt how to put togethe scene headings.

INT. HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM – NIGHT

The above is  an example of a scene heading. Interior is always abbreviated INT. and exterior is abbreviated EXT. Next is the location of the scene and a small dash separates this location from the time of day.

Characters, to show who’s speaking, are formatted in the middle of the page while parentheticals and dialogue have a placement of their own.

Luckily, Celtx is super easy to use and here's me explaining the basics.

Here is a screenshot of my own work on our A2 short film to show the basics of the program.

1. This is the option that allows users to open a drop-down menu to choose between things like Scene Heading, Dialogue or Character.

2. Here is where the user will spend most of their time as it’s where the text is placed into the document.

3. This tab on the side shows your scenes, depicted by your scene headings, and allows you easy navigation amongst your screenplay.

4. A set of tabs that allow you to choose upon a range of things, such as your title page.

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