FORMATTING FICTION PROJECTS
If you want to apply for a fiction project – a featurette for example – follow the guidelines stated below. They are developed in Hollywood, but today commonly used in the film industry.
The most important part of a script is the story. Is there a good plot? Is it interesting characters, good conflict? Therefore, it should not contain technical indications of camera, sound or editing. It simply disrupts the narrative flow. The same applies to the use of time specifications; morning, noon, day and so on. Use only DAY and NIGHT. Use generally few terms, to make it easier to read the script. State on the front page whether it is the first, second or third writing of the script.
FONT AND SIZE
The entire script must be written exclusively with the fixed typewriter font Courier in section 12. Do not use bold or italic type. All headings and indications of characters prior to the dialogue must be written in capital letters, and dialogue and action written in lower case. When introducing a character, the name must be written in capital letters, and subsequently in small letters. All texts that are part of the story including letters, signs, etc., must be written in capital letters in quote.
BEGINNING, END AND NUMBERING
Every script starts with a front page. The front contains the title of the script, written in capital letters and the name of the author, written in small letters. Both placed in the centre of the page with the title at the top and the author’s name at the bottom. The front does not count in the page numbering.
Scenes and dialogue begins only on page 1, where the script title must not appear. At the end of the script it should be clearly indicated that the story is over. With 2-line distance from the very last scene signed “END”, also in the centre in capital letters and with single space between each letter.
Scenes do not need numbering, but pages do. Place page numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.) at the top right corner. First page (not the front) is part of the series of numbers, but is not numbered.
Change of location is always a scene change. In scenes with many changes of location, such as montages, you can write it as one scene.
MARGINS AND LINE SPACING
Always use a margin of 2.5 cm all around. The lines must not be adjusted. Action descriptions start and end at the margin. Within this framework, standards for the location of the respective names of the people through dialogue (5.75 cm from the left margin) and dialogue (2.75 to 12.5 cm) also apply.
Standards for space between a scene title and its content is 1 line. The same applies to space between dialog and description. Finally, at scene shifts put 3 -line space. In general, the headline of a new scene should never be placed at the bottom of a page – instead, change the page.
(Source: The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier)
PITCH, PRESENTATION OF IDEA, SYNOPSIS, TREATMENT, STEP OUTLINE
Usually it is enough to write a pitch, presentation of ideas and script.
PITCH (5-8 lines) determines the structure of the story. Pitch starts with the title and genre and presents the entire film and end with the main character in focus.
SYNOPSIS (meaning “a statement giving a general view of a subject”, 4-5 pages for feature film) shows what will provide energy to the story: plot, turning points, the narrative technique, acts. Scenic material is good in a synopsis.
STEP OUTLINE is a brief telling of the story. What happens where and to whom (and on which page in the script)
TREATMENT A script divided into scenes without lines written in scenic present. There are various definitions of treatment. But treatment can be a useful tool to tell the story before writing the script. Treatment for a feature film can be written in only 8 pages. In Treatment the protagonist’s progress and the film’s turning points appear.
Read on scriptwriting! There is a wealth of literature on writing screenplays. Danish Trine Breum has written FILM – narrative and seduction. Bente Clod has written the textbook LEAVE A FILM – Manual in screenplay writing. Syd Fields is also an acknowledged writer.