Screenplay Glossary

A SCREENPLAY GLOSSARY

Research the following screenplay terms so that you can write your own glossary and refer to it in your assignment:

Beat – A beat is the timing and movement of a film or play. In the context of a screenplay, it usually represents a pause in dialogue. In the context of the timing of a film, a beat refers to an event, decision, or discovery that alters the way the protagonist pursues his or her goal.

Character name – In a screenplay, the name appears in all caps the first time a character is introduced in the “Action.” The character’s name can then be written normally, in the action, the rest of the script.

For Example: The limo pulls up to the curb. DAISY, an elderly woman sits in the car as MORGAN, the driver, steps out and opens the door for her. Daisy is dressed in evening-wear, ready for an Opera. Character’s names always appear in all CAPS when speaking.

Continuing Dialogue – Dialogue spoken by the same character that continues uninterrupted onto the next page, marked with a (cont’d) in a stage play.

Continuous Action – Included in the scene heading when moving from one scene to the next, as the action continues.

Dialogue – Very simply, this is what people are supposed to say according to the script.

EXT. – Exterior. This scene takes place out of doors. This is mostly for producers to figure out the probable cost of a film project.

INT. – Interior. This scene takes place indoors. This is mostly for producers to figure out the probable cost of a film project.

MATCH CUT – A transition often used to compare two completely unrelated objects. It’s film’s version of metaphor. This involves cutting from one object of certain color, shape, and/or movement, to another object of similar color, shape, and/or movement. For example, a circular saw to a child’s merry-go-round.

A commonly studied example of match cutting comes from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The classic cut comes towards the beginning of the film. After the apes have used a bone as a weapon for gathering food, an ape throws the bone into the air. As it falls, we match cut to a space ship carrying nuclear warheads. Both the bone and the ship are of similar shape and color, and both happen to be moving towards the bottom of the screen. The cut relates all of technology to the development of weaponry as it cuts out all of human history.

O.C. – Abbreviation for Off Camera, denoting that the speaker is resident within the scene but not seen by the camera.

O.S. – Abbreviation for Off Screen, denoting that the speaker is not resident within the scene.

Scene – Action taking place in one location and in a distinct time that (hopefully) moves the story to the next element of the story.

Scene Heading – A short description of the location and time of day of a scene, also known as a “slugline.” For example: EXT. MOUNTAIN CABIN – DAY would denote that the action takes place outside a mountain cabin during daylight hours.

Shooting Script – A script that has been prepared to be put into production.

Simultaneous Dialogue – When two characters speak at the same time, written in two columns side by side.

SUPER – Abbreviation for “superimpose” meaning the laying one image on top of another, usually words over a filmed scene (i.e. Berlin, 1945).

TITLE – Text that appears onscreen denoting a key element of the movie, a change of location or date, or person involved in the making of the movie.

Transition – A script notation denoting an editing transition within the telling of a story. For example, DISSOLVE TO: means the action seems to blur and refocus into another scene, and is generally used to denote a passage of time.

V.O. – Abbreviation for Voice Over, denoting that the speaker is narrating the action onscreen.

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