THIS POST WILL POSSIBLY PROBABLY UNDOUBTEDLY TURN INTO A POINTLESS RANT WHICH AT LEAST HALF OF YOU WILL VEHMENTLY DISAGREE WITH
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
I was reading a script a while back which was … well, fairly dull to be honest. Not dull enough to be unpleasant, but one of those scripts you read without really taking anything in. There’s some people, a lot of people, and they’re doing some stuff, not sure why, don’t really care and … oh.
Something happened which made no sense. One of those visual things which would probably be fine on screen, but in the script seems impossible.
Unless it’s night time.
Yes, that must be it. It must be dark and he can’t see … yes, that must be it. I’ll just check the scene heading.
I probably should explain at this point, I don’t read scene headings when I read scripts – I rely on the location being obvious enough from the scene – if the character sits on a sofa, he’s probably in a lounge. If he perches nervously on the edge of the sofa, it’s probably not his lounge, if he throws himself into the sofa, swings his feet onto the coffee table and flicks the TV on, it probably is his lounge.
Or he’s trying to annoy his mother-in-law.
Or he’s a very confident, and slightly moronic, burglar.
Regardless, it’s generally clear who’s where and if it’s not a quick glance back at the scene heading usually does the trick. If there’s anything unusual in the scene heading like FLASHBACK, DREAM SEQUENCE, HALLUCINATION … it tends to catch my eye and I’ll actually read it instead of skipping onto the interesting words.
So I check the scene heading – is it EXT. SOMEWHERE – NIGHT … ?
It’s EXT. SOMEWHERE – MOMENTS LATER
Okay, fair enough – not to my taste, but let’s see what it’s moments later from …
INT. SOMEWHERE ELSE – CONTINUOUS
Back another scene:
A LITTLE LATER
I keep going:
CONTINUOUS (yet strangely in a different location with different characters – continuous from what exactly?)
A LITTLE LATER
SAME (what the fuck? Same what? Same day? Same time? Is this split screen? Have we gone back in time since the last scene?)
Aha! EARLY MORNING …
Fifty two fucking pages earlier!
I had to flick through fifty two pages of bad script to find out if it’s dark or not and I’m still not fucking sure. Are fifty two pages enough time for it to go dark? Or have the characters inexplicably, and very quietly, gone fucking blind?
Needless to say I chucked the script in the bin, took it out, burnt it and put it back in the bin.
Then felt guilty about not recycling it.
Then changed my mind, I’d hate to think I was drinking tea from a cup recycled from that script.
See how it’s suddenly gone from a dull script to a bad script? Merely by annoying me?
What’s wrong with a simple DAY or NIGHT? That’s all I want to know. DAY or NIGHT? DAY or fucking NIGHT?
Alright, fine, if you really, really want to – go for DAWN or DUSK or EARLY MORNING or AFTERNOON or something else you feel is absolutely vital and won’t be immediately clear by reading the script – but LATER? CONTINUOUS? A LITTLE LATER? That’s different from LATER how?
And how the fuck do you schedule a script like that? Let’s break it down:
“Number of DAY scenes?”
“Number of NIGHT scenes?”
“Right. So is this all just one ninety-page scene?”
“No, because there are 17 LATER scenes, 14 CONTINUOUS scenes and 29 MOMENTS fucking LATER scenes.”
MOMENTS LATER than what? And even fucking worse SECONDS LATER – and that’s different from MOMENTS LATER how?
No wait, I’ve found a worse one: FOUR DAYS LATER
Not five or three, but four. How the fuck are the audience going to know, just by looking and without any visual aids like a TITLE OVER or a calender or a man growing four days worth of beard, that it’s four fucking days later? And why four? Why? For fuck’s sake why?
Here’s a handy hint gleaned from hiding in the Caribbean whilst my scripts are being shot: FILMS ARE SHOT OUT OF SEQUENCE. There’s a tendency to lump scenes together by location, cast and DAY or NIGHT to make filming easier, shorter and fucking possible. I may be wrong and will happily accept a correction from any passing AD, but I strongly fucking doubt scenes are shot together because they’re CONTINUOUS or MOMENTS fucking LATER.
“Ah, all these scenes are MOMENTS LATER, are they? Excellent, we’ll schedule them for one block of … um … hmm, DAY or NIGHT shooting?”
For the love of Internet porn, just put DAY or fucking NIGHT in your scene headings and be done with it. Look how upset I am. Look at me. I can barely type I’m so angry. Oh no, wait, I can type. Fuck it, just don’t do it – take your MOMENTS LATER and shove it up your arse.
Maybe if you absolutely have to do it. HAVE TO! Or the pixies will pull your pubes out one by one, then you could use A LITTLE LATER sparingly, but not EVERY FUCKING SCENE. Don’t do it. Don’t fucking do it!
Or do, do it.
Do what you like.
It’s your script.