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Archive for October 20th, 2013

Formatting Multi-Scene Montages Oct 20

Reader Question: Formatting Multi-Scene Montages

I’ve been responding to Scriptwrecked reader questions, via email, these past few months. Thought I might as well share a couple of my responses on the website so others can benefit. Here’s a question from Steve.

Question

I’m writing a musical, and am working [with a] montage that spans months of concert touring, different situations, and even snippets of dialogue.  It’s important that the reader know that this is a true montage, over music. How would you write that?

Answer

That’s a great question. These days, you have a lot more leeway with the formatting of your scripts. Basically, whatever puts the correct images and sounds into your reader’s mind, is the right way to format something. That being said, if there’s an existing way to illustrate something, that readers are accustomed to seeing, then I’d say to go with that option.

However, I’ve found that the simplest and most effective method to accomplish this type of montage is as follows:

BEGIN MULT-SCENE MONTAGE
INT. JACK’S BAR – NIGHT
The band plays to an almost empty room, but it doesn't dampen their enthusiasm.
INT. URBAN RESTAURANT – NIGHT
A packed audience listens intently, as the band rocks out.
They finish their set to thunderous applause.
                               BAND MEMBER #1
                         Thank you!
EXT. PACKED STADIUM – NIGHT
The deafening roar of the crowd would drown out the vocals on most bands. But these
guys are THE PURPLE DRAGONS – the world’s newest rock gods.
The lead singer belts out lyrics that whip the crowd into a frenzy.
END MULTI-SCENE MONTAGE

You get the idea. It’s the easiest, clearest way to do things, in my opinion.

Other options include using a right-justified transition and calling it MONTAGE:

… But I don’t agree with that. It’s not just a transition, so it might confuse some readers as to where the montage ends.

Another more tried and true technique is to set up a scene heading as follows:

MONTAGE – THE BAND’S RISE TO THE TOP
-- INT. JACK’S BAR – NIGHT
The band plays to an almost empty room, but it doesn't dampen their enthusiasm.
-- INT. URBAN RESTAURANT – NIGHT
A packed audience listens intently, as the band rocks out.
They finish their set to thunderous applause.
                               BAND MEMBER #1
                         Thank you!
-- EXT. PACKED STADIUM – NIGHT
The deafening roar of the crowd would drown out the vocals on most bands. But these
guys are THE PURPLE DRAGONS – the world’s newest rock gods.
The lead singer belts out lyrics that whip the crowd into a frenzy.
EXT. HOTEL ROOM – DAY
Yada yada yada.

You could also use A) … B) … C) … instead of the bullet points.

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