Momentum

Screenwriters are told not to put camera directions in scripts. That irritates directors. It is possible to put editing directions in scripts! If you want to read a script with built-in momentum take a look at the script of The Bourne Supremacy:


INT. THE AUDI/REST-STOP -- NIGHT
    BOURNE'S EYES OPENING! -- heart pounding -- springing up --
    alone -- damn, his side hurts -- recoiling from that --
    where is he? -- he's in the car -- looking around and --
   
    HIS WINDSHIELD POV
    AN AUTOBAHN REST-STOP. Gas station. Sleeping trucks.
   
    BACK TO
    BOURNE catching his breath -- shifting away from the pain
    in his rib -- checking his watch -- but what the hell is
    that on his sleeve? -- fuck, it's BLOOD -- JARDA's blood --
   
EXT. AUTOBAHN REST-STOP -- NIGHT
    BOURNE out of the car fast -- careless -- wrong -- not even
    checking who's watching -- pulling off the shirt -- tearing
    it off -- throwing it down and --
    Standing there. In the weird light. A big bruise ripening
    on his side. Looking around.
    It's okay. Nobody's watching. But, shit, man...
    Get it together.
   
INT. PEUGEOT -- AUTOBAHN -- NIGHT
    Streaking along. BOURNE back to his mission.

I’m not sure if I could choose between writing scenes like this or editing scenes like this!

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2 comments
  1. Elver said:

    Aye, this is a great way of doing it. From what I’ve seen and heard, it seems that everything is okay as long as you don’t start specifying things like “wide angle” or “50mm lens” or “tracking shot” or things like that.

    It can be quite rough at times, but it’s possible to express the exact same shots without using such 4th-wall-breaking terminology.

    Pulp Fiction’s “adrenaline into the heart” sequence is a great example of “pre-editing” a film, btw.

  2. Norman said:

    My favorite cutting instructions in scripts are when the transition slug says “SMASH CUT TO:” Last time I checked, most cuts still had a single frame on the A side, and a single frame on the B side.

    Seriously… most scripts are selling tools– designed to get a financier, or an actor, or a d.p or editor, or a director, (and others) interested in working on them. No editor I know takes these directions seriously, but they are incredibly useful in terms of letting me know what energy the writer would like the final film to have at any given moment.

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