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WHERE'S THE DRAMA?

The stuff that dreams are made of

 BIG PRINT SPOT LIGHT - Case Studies 

SO YOU WANT TO WRITE A MONTAGE

 

Before we get started, let’s create ourselves a nice little set up..

 

INT. SCRIPTPEER’S BEDROOM - DAY

Scriptpeer stares, broom in hand in absolute defeat as he examines the
filth that is his bedroom.  Old cups of milk, half eaten plates and trash litter his carpet.

Okay, we want a montage showing the process of turning this terribly messy bedroom into something he’d proudly let his mother walk into, but how?

We need two things, a slug (MONTAGE) and ”-“’s

Now, let’s plug our first description back in and add those two things.

 

INT. SCRIPTPEER’S BEDROOM - DAY

Scripteer stares, broom in hand in absolute defeat as he examines the
filth that is his bedroom.  Old cups of milk, half eaten plates and trash litter his carpet.

MONTAGE

-Scriptpeer sweeps up candy bar wrappers, clouds of dust and everything else small enough for his plastic broom to tackle.

-He sprays his dirty window with Windex and wipes rigorously with a wad of paper towels

-On his back the upper half of his body sorts through things trapped under his bed. Old action figures, dog toys and even a few plates fly out from under and into a pile next to his feet.

-His room, now very clean for the most part sparkles as he grabs a pile of dirty clothes and carries them out of his bedroom.

END OF MONTAGE

Wait.!! What if we wanted to show all the things he is missing out on while he’s cleaning…

 

We need two things, a header (MONTAGE - VARIOUS) and ”.)“‘s

Okay, let’s revisit our initial montage but plug in the added ideas.

 

INT. SCRIPTPEER’S BEDROOM - DAY

Scriptpeer stares, broom in hand in absolute defeat as he examines the
filth that is his bedroom.  Old cups of milk, half eaten plates and trash litter his carpet.

MONTAGE - VARIOUS

A.) Scriptpeer sweeps up candy bar wrappers, clouds of dust and everything else small enough for his plastic broom to tackle.

B.) EXT. BASEBALL FIELD - DAY-  Randy’s up to bat as he spits out a big wad of gum and gets in the proper hitting stance.

C.) INT. SCRIPTPEER’S BEDROOM - DAY - Scriptpeer sprays his dirty window with Windex and wipes rigorously with a wad of paper towels.

D.) EXT. JOHNNY’S BACKYARD - DAY - Johnny, Kyle and ERIC chase each other with water guns, firing away with focused smiles.

E.) On his back the upper half of his body sorts through things trapped under his bed. Old action figures, dog toys and even a few plates fly out from under and into a pile next to his feet.

F.) INT. GORDON’S GARAGE - DAY - Gordon and his father RICK sit in front of a red mustang digging into a sandwich.  Grease and filth cover their faces and hands but by the look on their faces they couldn’t care less.

G.) INT. SCRIPTPEER’S BEDROOM - DAY - scriptpeer’s room, now very clean for the most part sparkles as he grabs a pile of dirty clothes and carries them out of his bedroom.

END OF MONTAGE

We have just successfully created a montage scene.  An extremely boring and probably pointless montage but a montage nonetheless.

                  SHOWING THE ACTION

Tarantino is noted – among other things – for his ear for great dialogue. However in Pulp Fiction (1994), it’s worth noting that with key characters, he generally introduces them with scene description specific to who each character is. Here is how the script’s first scene describes two characters Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer):

.      INT. COFFEE SHOP - MORNING                                      1.

        A normal Denny's, Spires-like coffee shop in Los Angeles.
        It's about 9:00 in the morning.  While the place isn't jammed,
        there's a healthy number of people drinking coffee, munching
        on bacon and eating eggs.

        Two of these people are a YOUNG MAN and a YOUNG WOMAN.  The
        Young Man has a slight working-class English accent and, like
        his fellow countryman, smokes cigarettes like they're going
        out of style.

        It is impossible to tell where the Young Woman is from or how
        old she is; everything she does contradicts something she did.
        The boy and girl sit in a booth.  Their dialogue is to be said
        in a rapid-pace "HIS GIRL FRIDAY" fashion.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       No, forget it, it's too risky.  I'm
                       through doin' that shit.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       You always say that, the same thing
                       every time: never again, I'm
                       through, too dangerous.

                                   YOUNG MAN
                       I know that's what I always say.
                       I'm always right too, but --

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       -- but you forget about it in a day
                       or two --

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       -- yeah, well, the days of me
                       forgittin' are over, and the days
                       of me rememberin' have just begun.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       When you go on like this, you know
                       what you sound like?

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I sound like a sensible fucking
                       man, is what I sound like.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       You sound like a duck.
                            (imitates a duck)
                       Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack,
                       quack, quack...

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Well take heart, 'cause you're
                       never gonna hafta hear it again.
                       Because since I'm never gonna do it
                       again, you're never gonna hafta
                       hear me quack about how I'm never
                       gonna do it again.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       After tonight.

        The boy and girl laugh, their laughter putting a pause in
        there, back and forth.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                            (with a smile)
                       Correct.  I got all tonight to
                       quack.

        A WAITRESS comes by with a pot of coffee.

                                  WAITRESS
                       Can I get anybody anymore coffee?

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Oh yes, thank you.

        The Waitress pours the Young Woman's coffee.  The Young Man
        lights up another cigarette.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I'm doin' fine. 
                      
        The Waitress leaves.  The Young Man takes a drag off of his
        smoke.  The Young Woman pours a ton of cream and sugar into
        her coffee.

        The Young Man goes right back into it.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I mean the way it is now, you're
                       takin' the same fuckin' risk as
                       when you rob a bank.  You take more
                       of a risk.  Banks are easier!
                       Federal banks aren't supposed to
                       stop you anyway, during a robbery.
                       They're insured, why should they
                       care?  You don't even need a gun in
                       a federal bank.
                       I heard about this guy, walked into
                       a federal bank with a portable
                       phone, handed the phone to the
                       teller, the guy on the other end of
                       the phone said: "We got this guy's
                       little girl, and if you don't give
                       him all your money, we're gonna
                       kill 'er."

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Did it work?

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Fuckin' A it worked, that's what
                       I'm talkin' about!  Knucklehead
                       walks in a bank with a telephone,
                       not a pistol, not a shotgun, but a
                       fuckin' phone, cleans the place
                       out, and they don't lift a fuckin'
                       finger.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Did they hurt the little girl?

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I don't know.  There probably never
                       was a little girl -- the point of
                       the story isn't the little girl.
                       The point of the story is they
                       robbed the bank with a telephone.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       You wanna rob banks?

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I'm not sayin' I wanna rob banks,
                       I'm just illustrating that if we
                       did, it would be easier than what
                       we been doin'.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       So you don't want to be a bank
                       robber?

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Naw, all those guys are goin' down
                       the same road, either dead or
                       servin' twenty.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       And no more liquor stores?

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       What have we been talking about?
                       Yeah, no-more-liquor-stores.
                       Besides, it ain't the giggle it
                       usta be.  Too many foreigners own
                       liquor stores.  Vietnamese,
                       Koreans, they can't fuckin' speak
                       English.  You tell 'em: "Empty out
                       the register," and they don't know
                       what it fuckin' means.  They make
                       it too personal.  We keep on, one
                       of those gook motherfuckers' gonna
                       make us kill 'em.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       I'm not gonna kill anybody.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I don't wanna kill anybody either.
                       But they'll probably put us in a
                       situation where it's us of them.
                       And if it's not the gooks, it these
                       old Jews who've owned the store for
                       fifteen fuckin' generations.  Ya
                       got Grandpa Irving sittin' behind
                       the counter with a fuckin' Magnum.
                       Try walkin' into one of those
                       stores with nothin' but a
                       telephone, see how far it gets you.
                       Fuck it, forget it, we're out of
                       it.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Well, what else is there, day jobs?

                                  YOUNG MAN
                            (laughing)
                       Not this life.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Well what then?

        He calls to the Waitress.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Garcon!  Coffee!

        Then looks to his girl.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       This place.

        The Waitress comes by, pouring him some more.

                                  WAITRESS
                            (snotty)
                       "Garcon" means boy.

        She splits.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Here?  It's a coffee shop.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       What's wrong with that?  People
                       never rob restaurants, why not?
                       Bars, liquor stores, gas stations,
                       you get your head blown off
                       stickin' up one of them.
                       Restaurants, on the other hand, you
                       catch with their pants down.
                       They're not expecting to get
                       robbed, or not as expecting.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                            (taking to idea)
                       I bet in places like this you could 
                       cut down on the hero factor.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Correct.  Just like banks, these
                       places are insured.  The managers
                       don't give a fuck, they're just
                       tryin' to get ya out the door
                       before you start pluggin' diners.
                       Waitresses, forget it, they ain't
                       takin' a bullet for the register.
                       Busboys, some wetback gettin' paid
                       a dollar fifty a hour gonna really
                       give a fuck you're stealin' from
                       the owner.  Customers are sittin'
                       there with food in their mouths,
                       they don't know what's goin' on.
                       One minute they're havin' a Denver
                       omelette, next minute somebody's
                       stickin' a gun in their face.

        The Young Woman visibly takes in the idea.  The Young Man
        continues in a low voice.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       See, I got the idea last liquor
                       store we stuck up.  'Member all
                       those customers kept comin' in?

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Yeah.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       They you got the idea to take
                       everybody's wallet.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Uh-huh.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       That was a good idea.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Thank you.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       We made more from the wallets then
                       we did the register.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Yes we did.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       A lot of people go to restaurants.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       A lot of wallets.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Pretty smart, huh?

        The Young Woman scans the restaurant with this new
        information.  She sees all the PATRONS eating, lost in
        conversations.  The tires WAITRESS, taking orders.  The
        BUSBOYS going through the motions, collecting dishes.  The
        MANAGER complaining to the COOK about something.  A smiles
        breaks out on the Young Woman's face.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Pretty smart.
                            (into it)
                       I'm ready, let's go, right here,
                       right now.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       Remember, same as before, you're
                       crowd control, I handle the
                       employees.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       Got it.

        They both take out their .32-caliber pistols and lay them on
        the table.  He looks at her and she back at him.

                                  YOUNG WOMAN
                       I love you, Pumpkin.

                                  YOUNG MAN
                       I love you, Honey Bunny.

        And with that, Pumpkin and Honey Bunny grab their weapons,
        stand up and rob the restaurant.  Pumpkin's robbery persona is
        that of the in-control professional.  Honey Bunny's is that of
        the psychopathic, hair-triggered, loose cannon.

                                  PUMPKIN
                            (yelling to all)
                       Everybody be cool this is a
                       robbery!

                                  HONEY BUNNY
                       Any of you fuckin' pricks move and
                       I'll execute every one of you
                       motherfuckers!  Got that?

                                                        CUT TO:

 

Tarantino uses scene description here in two ways to convey character: (1) Through the Narrative Voice’s ‘impression’ of both Pumpkin (“Pumpkin’s robbery persona is that of the in-control professional”) and Honey Bunny (“everything she does contradicts everything she did… the psychopathic, hair-triggered, loose cannon”); and  (2) Through the actions of each character: Pumpkin (“smokes cigarettes like they’re going out of style”) and Honey Bunny (“pours a ton of cream and sugar”).

So while dialogue can be a critical element in distinguishing various characters, scene description can, too, by drilling down into each character’s core essence: Through the Narrative Voice’s ‘impression’ and through the character’s individual actions.

   FINDING YOUR SCREENPLAY'S VOICE

by Jeremy Sheldon

 

As with prose fiction, approaches to scene action fall into different ‘schools’. There are the ‘Purists’, worshiping at the altar of clear sentences and precisely chosen images. ‘Show, don’t tell,’ they chant to themselves as they tap away in Final Draft. As the script ‘guru’ Billy Mernit put it last year in his blog, the conventional approach to scene action pushes the writer not to ‘over-explain’ or ‘pre-direct’ the story events he or she is trying to depict. ‘Be clear, be precise… your prose should be as spare and smart as a Raymond Carver story.’

This advice has a lot to recommend it. But Mernit acknowledged that some successful screenwriters also break this cardinal rule, citing the scripts for Oscar-winners Milk and Slumdog Millionaire – and this is where variations on the Purists’ method can produce exciting literary experiences. For instance, there are the screenplay equivalents of the Beats, proponents of an anarchic brand of stream-of-consciousness that releases the story on to the page one manic fragment at a time. From the first draft of Bad Lieutenant by Abel Ferrara and Zoe Lund:

LT leaps up. He’s on a manic roll. Conceives an insanely captivating, impossible idea. As he speaks, he speeds more and more until he seems to be reciting a rapid-fire tongue twister perfect.

The broken grammar and gathering momentum of the language is ideal for portraying a scene where our anti-hero, the Lieutenant of the title, is blitzed on an intravenous cocktail of heroin and cocaine with the bad guys steadily closing in around him. Conversely, in the opening pages of The Big Lebowski (Ethan and Joel Cohen), we find a completely different kind of rhythm to enjoy:

It is late, the supermarket all but deserted. We are tracking in on a fortyish man in Bermuda shorts and sunglasses at the dairy case. He is the Dude. His rumpled look and relaxed manner suggest a man in whom casualness runs deep.

This kind of effortless precision is thrilling to read. What could be more suited to conveying the meticulously idle drift of El Duderino (‘I’m not into the whole brevity thing’) than the rolling Rs of ‘rumpled’, ‘relaxed’ and ‘runs’? The grammatically pedantic but rhythmically gentle ‘in whom casualness runs deep’ serves the same purpose.

 

 

Talking of The Big Lebowski, the wider world of screenwriting contains its own Nihilists. Andrew Kevin Walker’s script for Seven unsurprisingly presents a grisly catalogue of dystopian images. Even the rare flashes of beauty in the script are quickly tainted with corruption and death.

INT. SOMERSET'S APARTMENT – MORNING
{blockquote}
Somerset picks items off a moving box: his keys, wallet, switchblade, gold homicide badge. Finally, he opens the hardcover book he had with him on the train. From the pages, he takes the pale, paper rose.
INT. TENEMENT APARTMENT – DAY
{blockquote}
Somerset stands before a wall which is stained by a star-burst of blood. A body lies on the floor under a sheet. A sawed-off shotgun lies not far from the body.

Later in the script, we are given such percussive treats as

Crack vials and hypodermic needles on the stairs crunch under the cops’ heavy boots.

A variation on the Nihilist approach might be the Minimalist approach. Consider this moment from the opening page of Alien by Dan O’Bannon:

FADE IN
SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE:
INT. ENGINE ROOM
Empty, cavernous.
INT. ENGINE CUBICLE
Circular, jammed with instruments.
All of them idle.
Console chairs for two.
Empty.
INT. OILY CORRIDOR – “C” LEVEL
Long, dark.
Empty.
Turbos throbbing.
No other movement.

In a conventional ‘earthbound’ storyline, the scene heading – e.g. INT. ENGINE CUBICLE – would need to include an indication of the time of day. Not so in this piece. We’re in deep space, the disorientation of an endless night, our sensory palette reduced to a hollow, haunting hum.

Luckily for readers with more Romantic tastes, it’s not all doom and gloom. Consider the poise of the opening lines of Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient and ask whether they would seem out of place at the start of a literary novel:

SILENCE. THE DESERT seen from the air. An ocean of dunes for mile after mile. The late sun turns the sand every color from crimson to black.

Even the Postmodernists get a look in. Perhaps my favourite screenplay is Shane Black’s notorious script for Lethal Weapon; notorious because it earned him $250,000, an extremely large sum at the time for an unknown writer; notorious because no one writes quite like Mr. Black.

EXT. POSH BEVERLY HILLS HOME - TWILIGHT
{blockquote}
The kind of house that I’ll buy if this movie is a huge hit. Chrome. Glass. Carved wood. Plus an outdoor solarium: a glass structure, like a greenhouse only there’s a big swimming pool inside. This is a really great place to have sex.

Lethal Weapon. A meta-fictional masterpiece. Who knew? The postmodern flourishes proliferate throughout the script:

The General laughs. Rianne shrieks. Harrowing. Terrible. A scene out of Hell. And then the Devil comes in and kicks the door off its hinges. Okay. Okay. Let’s stop for a moment. First off, to describe fully the mayhem which Riggs now creates would not do it justice. Here, however, are a few pointers: He is not flashy. He is not Chuck Norris. Rather, he is like a sledge-hammer hitting an egg. He does not knock people down. He does not injure them.
He simply kills them. The whole room. Everyone standing.
 -----------------------------------------
READ MORE AT http://www.granta.com/New-Writing/Cinemas-Invisible-Art

  WRITING THE ESTABLISHING SHOT/S

The establishing shot may well be one of the cornerstones in both screenwriting and the finished film product. The shot "establishes" a location or setting, often using an exterior or back up shot to lay out the scene. It gives the entire lay out of the area so the audience can understand the story space and have a basic idea of what is going on and where.

This is often laid out in the script, yet is rarely actually titled as an establishing shot. To indicate that a certain scene is an establishing shot would be over stepping the bounds of a spec script writer and entering the decision making process of the director. Instead an establishing shot will have a simple heading that will indicate a few elements while making it obvious because of its context that it is an establishing shot.

 

Screenplay Formatting

You have to get three essential things in your heading for an establishing shot. You have to indicate whether or not it is an interior or exterior location, where that location is, and if it is day or night. In some cases you can add more information, but this should usually come in the scene description to follow.

After the heading you go on to describe the establishing shot in a short sentence or two. Since there is not really any action this should not be too long of a description. A longer description can be used for the main scene, but the establishing shot is usually just a clip of a location, as exampled by the opening of the screenplay of THE FIFTH ELEMENT:


1 EXT.  DESERT  NILE RIVER  VALLEY - DAY    
  Somewhere in the Nile at the edge of the desert.    
  CREDITS ROLL     
  WRITTEN:  EGYPT 1913    
  OMAR and his mule zigzag along the bottom of sun scorched dunes.
 
Some times a sequence of shots is necessary for establishing the 
world of the story, as is the case in ALIEN:  
 
FADE IN          
SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE:          
 
INT. ENGINE ROOM          
Empty, cavernous.          
 
INT. ENGINE CUBICLE          
Circular, jammed with instruments.         
All of them idle.         
Console chairs for two. Empty.
 
INT. OILY CORRIDOR - "C" LEVEL          
Long, dark. Empty.         
Turbos throbbing.         
No other movement.  
 
INT. CORRIDOR - "A" LEVEL          
Long, empty.    
 
INT. INFIRMARY - "A" LEVEL          
Distressed ivory walls.         
All instrumentation at rest.  
 
INT. CORRIDOR TO BRIDGE - "A" LEVEL          
Black, empty.  
 
INT. BRIDGE          
Vacant.         
Two space helmets resting on chairs.         
Electrical hum.         
Lights on the helmets begin to signal one another.         
Moments of silence.         
A yellow light goes on.         
Data mind bank in b.g.         
Electronic hum.         
A green light goes on in front of one helmet.         
Electronic pulsing sounds.         
A red light goes on in front of other helmet.         
An electronic conversation ensues.         
Reaches a crescendo.           
Then silence.         
The lights go off, save the yellow.          
 
INT. CORRIDOR TO HYPERSLEEP VAULT
Lights come on.         
Seven gowns hang from the curved wall.         
Vault door opens. 
 
Or there may be a number of shots in ONE scene, as in COOL HAND LUKE: 
 
 FADE IN:   
      EXT.   SOUTHERN CITY STREET      NIGHT   
      The irritating head of a parking meter opens a glaring 
      red eye: filling the entire screen:  
 
                          VIOLATION 
 
      A pipe cutter attached to the meter neck, metal    
      slivers curling out.     
      The meter head falls out of FRAME...    
      and another...     
      Amidst a forest of meter stands LUKE (32). 
      Luke's hand comes into the FRAME to pick up one of the 
      severed heads. 
 
      We SEE him for the first time, cheerful, drunk, wearing a 
      faded GI Field jacket. A bottle opener hangs on a silver 
      chain around his neck. 
 
       Suddenly the beam of headlights crashes in, sliding up, 
       headlights glaring, red top-light revolving menacingly.   
       Illuminated by the headlights, Luke grins as the Officers 
       approach, lifts a bottle of beer, opens it and drinks, 
       smiling. 
 
Now have a look at the actual film opening :
 

             THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER

JAMES AGEE'S MASTERFUL SCREENPLAY & ITS REALIZATION 
 
 
SCRIPT (below) & REALISATION (above)
 
TWO-SHOT -- JOHN AND PEARL The skiff is taken steadily by the current.  
PEARL sits up, doll in arms. JOHN is almost asleep with exhaustion.  
 
FULL SHOT -- THE SKIFF, OVER PREACHER It is well away from him and 
getting smaller.  Waist-deep, he wades a couple  of steps after it, 
then just looks.  
 
HEAD CLOSE-UP -- PREACHER He begins a steady, rhythmical, animal scream 
of outrage and loss.  
 
LONG SHOT -- THE RIVER AND LANDSCAPE Featuring starlight; and the 
drifting boat - PEARL in stern.  
 
TWO-SHOT -- THE CHILDREN -- FRONT ON JOHN is asleep.  PEARL sits sleepily 
whispering to her doll.  				
                              PEARL 		
             Once upon a time there was a pretty fly, 
             and he had a wife, this pretty fly...  
 
MEDIUM LONG SHOT -- THE DRIFTING BOAT, THROUGH FIREFLIES  
 
                               PEARL'S VOICE (o.s.) 		
             ...and one day she flew away, and then one  		
             night his two pretty fly children...  
 
SPECIAL SHOT -- THE MOVING SKIFF, THROUGH DEW-JEWELED SPIDER-WEB  
 
			       PEARL'S VOICE (o.s.) 		
              ...flew away too, into the sky, into the  		
              moon...  
 
SPECIAL SHOT -- A FROG, AND SKIFF A big frog is profiled; the skiff drifts by 
in distance; the frog twangs out  a bass note. 
 
DISSOLVE TO
 
INSERT -- A PICTURE POSTCARD -- A COUNTY COURTHOUSE As the card is turned 
to the handwritten side we 
CUT TO  CLOSE TWO-SHOT -- WALT AND ICEY  
 
                               WALT (reading aloud) 		
              Dear Walt and Icey: I bet you been worried and
              gave us up for lost.  Took the kids down here  		
              with me for a visit to my sister Elsie's farm.
              Thot a little change of scenery would do us all 
               a world of good after so much trubble and 
               heartache.  At least the kids will git plenty  		
               of good home cooking.  Your devoted Harry Powell.
 
                               ICEY 		
              Now ain't you relieved, Walt?  
 
                               WALT 		
               Sure, but you was worried too, Mother; takin'  		
               off with never a word of goodbye.  I even got to  		
                figurin' those gypsies busted in and done off  		
                with all three of 'em. 
 
                               ICEY 		
              You and your gypsies!  They been gone a week! 
 
                                WALT 		
               Not before one of 'em knifed a farmer and stole  		
               his horse.  Never caught the gypsies nor the  		
               horse.  
 
LAP DISSOLVE TO  
DESCENDING HELICOPTER SHOT -- 
 
THE RIVER -- DAY 
A man is going along a river lane on horseback.  It is PREACHER; he 
walks the horse away from us.
 
DISSOLVE TO  
DESCENDING HELICOPTER SHOT -- 
 
ANOTHER BEND OF THE RIVER 
We descend to a poor riverside farmhouse; 
 
JOHN and PEARL tether a boat in  front of it.  
 
GROUP SHOT (FROM GROUND) -- 
THREE HOMELESS CHILDREN, OVER JOHN AND PEARL 
They are eating hot boiled potatoes.  A glance at JOHN and PEARL, and they  
turn away towards lane in BACKGROUND.  
 
JOHN and PEARL proceed towards the  house.  
 
MEDIUM SHOT -- JOHN, PEARL, WOMAN, THROUGH DOOR 
We shoot from within open door of kitchen. 
 
JOHN and PEARL advance to edge of  porch. 
 
A TIRED FARM WOMAN stands by the door within.  We shoot OVER her.  
			      TIRED FARM WOMAN 		
              Hungry, I s'pose.  Well, I'll see if there's  	
              any more potatoes to spare.  Where's your  		
              folks?  		  
                               JOHN 		
               Ain't got none.  
 
Woman leaves shot briefly (we HOLD on CHILDREN).  
She re-enters and goes to  them with a bowl of steaming potatoes.  
They take hands-ful and make to eat.  
 
                               TIRED FARM WOMAN 		
              Go 'way; go 'way.  
 
They turn and walk towards boat.  She looks after them.  
 
			       TIRED FARM WOMAN 		
              Such times, when youngins run the roads!  
 
She leaves the SHOT.  We frame them briefly, walking away, then: 
DISSOLVE TO 
 
CLOSE SHOT -- A PLACARD -- NIGHT 
It is lit by firelight.  It reads:  
 
                           PEACH-PICKERS WANTED 				
                           WEEKLY HIRE  
 
                               PREACHER'S VOICE (o.s.) 		
             An ungrateful child is an abomination...  	
 
LAP DISSOLVE TO  GROUP SHOT -- 
PREACHER AND MEN PREACHER stands behind the flames; in FOREGROUND an 
OLD MAN sits profiled on  a box.  Other workers, all men, sit around fire.
 
 			      PREACHER (continuing) 		
              ...before the eyes of God.  The world is fast  		
               going to damnation because of impudent youngins  		
               a-flyin' in the face of Age.  
 
Short silence as the other men look at PREACHER without liking.  
Then the old  man spits into the fire.  
 
CLOSE SHOT -- THE FLAMES A spurt of steam as spit strikes.  
 
CLOSE SHOT -- A HOOT OWL ... hooting.  		
 
LAP DISSOLVE TO  CLOSE SHOT -- A TURTLE -- NOONDAY He comes down to water. 
 
			       JOHN'S VOICE (o.s.) 		
              They make soup out of them...  
LONG SHOT -- THE CHILDREN IN PASSING SKIFF Full landscape in BACKGROUND.
 
			       JOHN (continuing) 		
              ... but I wouldn't know how to go about 
              gettin' him open.  
 
LAP DISSOLVE TO  LONG SHOT -- CHILDREN AND SKIFF, OVER RABBITS IN GRASS 
We shoot over two sitting rabbits as they watch, their ears up.  
 
The skiff  passes.  
PEARL plays with doll; JOHN unsnarls line.  
 
LAP DISSOLVE TO  
 
FULL SHOT -- THE CHILDREN AND SKIFF, FRAMED BY WILLOWS -- 
 
TWILIGHT The skiff passes.  Baa-ing of sheep o.s.  
 
MOVING SHOT -- FROM RIVER -- A SHEEP The sheep bleats.  
We PAN in a big barn near the river, then a lighted house;  
willows along shore.  
 
FULL SHOT -- THE SKIFF -- FROM THE BANK JOHN re-sets his oar.  
They angle towards us for the shore.
 
                              JOHN 		
             We're gonna spend a night on land. 
 
UP-SHOT -- THE CHILDREN, OVER THE MOORED SKIFF ... they reach top of 
the bank. 
 
Corner of barn and lighted window in  BACKGROUND.  
 
Sounds of mouth-organ and girl singing o.s.  
 
FULL SHOT -- A LIGHTED WINDOW, THE SHADE DRAWN 
A wire bird-cage hangs close to the shade, silhouetted.  
On the perch, a  canary.  
Lullaby and mouth-organ continue o.s.
 
After a moment, the CHILDREN  enter, backs to us, and stop, looking.  
CLOSE TWO-SHOT -- THE CHILDREN Window-light on faces, song over.  
A moment.  	
 			       PEARL 		
              Are we goin' home, John? 
 
                                JOHN 		
               Ssh...  He turns, her hand in his. 
 
We PAN as they tiptoe towards the big, open door  of barn; big open 
hayloft window above.  
 
INT. ROOM -- LOW TRACKING SHOT -- THE CHILDREN 
As they walk down aisle of barn, we shoot them past bellies and legs 
of row  of cows.  Sounds of munching and soft lowing o.s.  
 
JOHN helps PEARL up a  little ladder to the hayloft.  
 
MEDIUM SHOT -- THE CHILDREN, WINDOW -- TWILIGHT ... as the CHILDREN 
bed down in hay, only legs visible, protruding into frame  of window, 
which frames a middle-distant white lane beyond house, and a  landscape.  
Whippoorwill o.s.  A darkening of light.  
 
LAP DISSOLVE TO  SAME SET-UP A full moon is half-risen.  
Whippoorwill o.s.  	
 
LAP DISSOLVE TO  SAME SET-UP The moon is well above the horizon.  
Whippoorwill o.s.  
 
LAP DISSOLVE TO  SAME SET-UP The moon is still higher.  
A pause; the whippoorwill stops in mid-phrase.   
 
Brief pause; then JOHN sits up into silhouette.  
 
CLOSE SHOT -- JOHN He listens intently.  We hear nothing.  His eyes alter.  
We hear, distantly  				
                              PREACHER'S VOICE  (o.s., singing) 		
             Leaning, Leaning ... 		   
At various distances o.s., we hear dogs barking at the sound of the 
singing.  	
 			       PREACHER'S VOICE (continuing; louder) 		
              ... safe and secure from all alarms;  
 
The dog from the farm rushes braying to his gate.  Other dogs 
continue o.s.   
 
PREACHER appears astride his walking horse, singing.  
 
                               PREACHER 		
              Leaning...

The scenes, and subsequent moments, which show a bullfrog, rabbits and sheep, underline the traditional peacefulness of nature. The imagery is strong, almost childlike in its boldness. Yet, because this and later passages depict the world through the eyes of John and Pearl, the imagery is exactly right.

Although off-screen, Mitchum’s presence menacingly overhangs these scenes and others that trace the children's progress along the river. Even when he is on-screen it is usually in long-­shot, often photographed from a helicopter (by no means as commonplace in 1955 as it was to become). And there is a famous moment when the silhouetted image of a man on a horse is framed in the opening of a barn in which John and Pearl are hiding. For this scene a midget on a pony was used to achieve the correct perspective within the confines of the studio but the camera trickery in no way diminishes the dramatic visual effect.

                THE SET-UP OF VERTIGO

 
        EXT. SAN FRANCISCO - (NIGHT)  	
        A foggy night, the city hidden in mist. The flash of beacons; 	
        fingers of fog; the spasmodic growls and orgies of fog horns.  	
 
         INT. SCOTTIE'S BEDROOM - (NIGHT)  	
         Scottie in bed, sleeping restlessly. His head fills the 	
         screen, rolls from, side to side. 
 
         In a SLOW DISSOLVE while his head remains on the screen, 
         there comes into focus and is superimposed as it gets closer 
         the head and shoulders of the portrait of Carlotta. 
 
         The CAMERA PANS DOWN until it reveals the nosegay.  
 
         The portrait is cleared from the screen, a new image is 
         superimposed; the final scene at the inquest between Scottie 
         and Gavin Elster. But this time, though it is not distinct, 
         a woman's head can be discerned on Elster's shoulder. 
         Elster turns to the woman and says: "Tell him he's not to blame; 
         tell him." 
         The woman turns her head to smile at Scottie. It is Carlotta 
         Valdes again, dressed as in the portrait, with the necklace at 
         her throats, and she is alive. 	
 
         The picture fades away. Scottie's restless head is alone on 	
         the screen again.  	
 
          Another scene dissolves to the screen: the graveyard at 	
          Mission Dolores. The CAMERA IS APPROACHING the grave of 	
          Carlotta Valdes. Now we see Scottie approaching the grave. 	
 
          Now the CAMERA REVERSES, MOVING closer to the grave. It is 	
          open; there is a great black abyss, with the headstone to 	
          mark it.  	
 
           A CLOSEUP OF SCOTTIE coming to a stop as he stares down. The 
       	   black depths of the grave fill the screen, and now, suddenly 
	   we start to fall. A BIG CLOSEUP OF SCOTTIE, his hair 	
           windswept, staring down in horror as he falls. 
 
           REVERSE ANGLE: he is still falling, but now from the tower 
           of the Mission at San Juan onto the roof where Madeleine fell,
           and 
 
            at the moment of impact the picture clears, and Scottie 
            is sitting 	up in bed, staring ahead in horror, awakened by 
            the sound of his own scream. The scream is echoed by a fog 
            horn in the distance.
 
T

   ARRIVAL AT BATES' MOTEL / SEQUENCE from Hitchcock's PSYCHO

 
The descriptions - or showings - in the screenplay for Psycho (2nd draft) underscore the 
fact that the primary function of the BIG PRINT is to show action, and where and when it 
is occurring. The actions in the lead up to Marion's arrival at the motel work to convey the
anxiety of guilt and her dread of being caught. She is confused and in danger, and the tension
aroused is palpable in the screenplay owing to the way the action is written.  Everything is literally
"in her head" - and the fragmentary thoughts and fears that torment her lock us into a very 
strong sense of her POV. Fact is, she has been driving for hours, haunted by the crime she has 
committed. 
 
Marion’s sad, desperate getaway is one of three long "silent"   sections of Psycho. Hitchcock’s 
fascination with the idea of telling a story pictorially,  along with his roots in silent film, 
encouraged him to construct a large number of such set pieces in several of his films. The concert 
hall section of the remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), for example, and Cary Grant’s 
high plains rendezvous with "Mr. Kaplan" in North by Northwest (1959), as well as the "win the   
tennis match/get the lighter" section of Strangers on a Train (the last two have minimal 
dialogue).
 
The tension that builds in the three, discreet driving sequences that ultimately bring Marion 
to Bates' Motel, manage to continuous build the sense of impending doom as the emotional energy
builds. The arrival of the "death’s head" policeman (the sightless gaze of his dark glasses looks 
forward to Mother’s blind, staring sockets at the climax of Psycho) makes the implicit desperation 
of Marion's flight explicit. Once more - like her chance encounter with her boss at an intersection 
in town, she is being watched, and once more is powerless to do anything about it. She flees from 
the policeman’s gaze as quickly as she is able, and rushes to buy a new car, an utterly useless 
gesture, because he is watching her do it. Her interactions with the car salesman, "California 
Charlie," repeat her experience with the policeman: the more she tries to escape notice, the more 
she attracts it.  

The driving sequence that follows - which is re-produced in script form below - heightens our 
anticipation as well as planting Marion's misgivings about what she has done. The writing is 
composed of  fragments of images, memories, voices, and then it starts to rain. The wiper 
blades slash, battling against the elements almost as hopelessly as Marion wages her internal 
struggle against guilt and fear.  The lights of oncoming cars nearly  blind her. And she surprises 
us with the   explicitly sexual  referencing of Cassidy’s imagined response to what she has done  — 
a threat that he will take vengeance on  her "fine, soft flesh". In the film, Hitchcock chose to 
have his female lead smile as she mused upon the possibility, a cruelly ironic gesture given what 
is to happen to her.  The rain and the slashing wiper blades - the blinding lights - and the 
fragmentary way in which the prose conducts one from one shot to the next prepares for 
what is to follow - the cruel deception of safety in the form of a neon looms up out of the rainy 
darkness - an image of sanctuary, protection and comfort that will draw Marion off the highway 
into the very darkness that the motel - at least in her imagination and ours -  promises to dispel. 
Hitchcock used a neon sign in The Lodger, a sign for a nightclub that   announced "To-Night 
Golden Curls." In The Lodger, it was the sign that  drew the murderer out in search of his victims. 
In Psycho, the sign draws   the victims to the murderer. 
 
 
As you read the except below, note how the blocks of writing suggest shots. The driving shots are
 
succinct, chopped, one shot with one action, then move on. But once Marion arrives at the motel
 
the shots are filled with lots of actions. One lingers, warms to the place, relaxes. Indeed the script
 
is written in a way that contributes to our inclination to stay awhile and enjoy the respite that
 
such a place might offer, a shelter from the storm and the public thoroughfare where one
 
continually runs the risk of being found out.
 
 
 
EXT.   HIGHWAY

It is completely dark now, night.


INT.     MARY'S NEW CAR

We cut back to her face.

                 LOWERY'S VOICE
         After all, Cassidy, I told you...  
         all that cash... I'm not taking the
         responsibility... Oh, for heaven's
         sake, a girl works for you for ten
         years, you trust her! All right,
         yes, you better come over.

FROM MARY'S VIEWPOINT

EXT.     THE ROAD AHEAD
 
 
INT.       MARY'S NEW CAR

Fast cut back to Mary's face. Oncoming headlights    
throw a blinding light across her features.

                   CASSIDY'S VOICE
              (undrunk, sharp with
               rage)
          Well I ain't about to kiss off forty
          thousand dollars! I'll get it back
          and if any of it's missin' I'll
          replace it with her fine soft flesh!
          I'll track her, never you doubt it!

                     LOWERY'S VOICE
          Hold on, Cassidy... I still can't
          believe... it must be some kind of a
          mystery... I can't...

                      CASSIDY'S VOICE
          You checked with the bank, no?  They
          never laid eyes on her, no?  You
          still trustin'? Hot creepers, she
          sat there while I dumped it out...
          hardly even looked at it, plannin'
          and... and even flirtin' with me...!

A look of revulsion makes Mary close her eyes.

THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD AGAIN

Big drops of rain begin to appear.

CLOSEUP - MARY

She is becoming aware of the rain starting.

THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD

The rain increasing and backlit by the oncoming
headlights.

CLOSEUP - MARY

Mary starts the windshield wipers.

THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD

The wipers are having a battle with the now torrential  
rain.

CLOSEUP - MARY

Peering through the blurred windshield.

CLOSEUP - THE CAR WHEELS

slowing down in the flooding highway.

CLOSEUP - MARY

peering through the windshield. The oncoming lights
are fewer.

CLOSEUP - THE CAR WHEELS

almost coming to a slow turn.

THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD

just blackness and rain.

CLOSEUP - MARY

peering.

MARY'S VIEWPOINT

An almost undiscernible light in the far distance, a
neon sign blurred by the rain-sheeted windshield.

MARY'S CAR

She presses down, forces the car to move on through
the flooded road.

EXT.        THE ROAD

As we move closer, we see the neon sign more clearly
and can faintly make out the large letters which read          
"Motel."  Mary stops the car, lowers the window
slightly, looks out. We see the sign clearly now:
"BATES MOTEL." Mary opens the car door and dashes out
into the rain and up onto the porch of the motel
office.

EXT.         BATES' MOTEL    (NIGHT)

Mary pauses on the porch. The lights are on within the
office. She tries door, finds it open, goes into
office. CAMERA FOLLOWS her into office. There is no
one present. Mary goes to the desk, rings a small
pushbell. There is no response. Mary rubs her forehead
in weariness and frustration, goes back out onto the
porch. She looks off in another direction, slightly
behind the office, and sees...

MARY'S VIEWPOINT - A LARGE OLD HOUSE - (NIGHT)

A path from the motel office leads directly up to this
house. There is a light on in one of the upstairs
rooms. A WOMAN passes the window, pauses, peers out.

We see her in clear silhouette. She quickly goes away
from the window.

EXT.      PORCH OF BATES' MOTEL - (NIGHT)

Mary, having seen the woman, expects now that she will
get some attention. She stands a few moments, waiting.
No one comes. Impatience and anger rise in Mary. She
dashes out into the rain, to her car, gets in, opens  
the side window, begins to honk the horn. After a
moment, a YOUNG MAN open the front door of the house,
pauses, starts down the path. After a few steps, he
turns and runs back into the house. Mary leaves her
car, starts a dash for the shelter of the porch. As
she runs, we see that the Young Man has gone back
only to get an umbrella. Seeing that Mary is on her
way to the porch, he runs quickly, the umbrella
unopened in his hand. He gets to the porch a moment
after Mary has reached it.

He stops short, looks at her, then at the umbrella
hanging useless in his hand, then back to her.
There is something sadly touching in his manner, in
his look. Mary's impatience goes and she smiles and
this makes him almost smile. He gestures her into the
office, standing back to indicate that he will go
after her. She goes into the office.    
     
 
 
MORE ABOUT THE BIG PRINT