View Full Version : how to write dolly tracks
11-20-2004, 12:10 AM
everyone says you shouldn't write screen direction but you can't help it.
more and more people are breaking that rule.
it's not, camera A pans and dollys to so and so..
but you can write it like ANGLE or ON or.. help me out here.
"ANGLE creeps towards the dark building..."
and those are okay right?
my main problem is i tend to write alot of dolly and tracking shots.
"we follow Jerry down the hall.."
but i dun want to pull a Tarantino and use the word WE. nor
beat me if im wrong.
11-20-2004, 10:57 AM
I never write camera direction. I have this direction in mind, but I try and articulate it in the most staccato way I can without the lingo. The director will likely change it anyway.
11-20-2004, 11:12 AM
Dv, before I beat you, are you writing this on spec? What is the plan for this script? If you are going to make this film, I'll hold off on beating you, if you plan to sell this script I have a bat with your name on it.
11-20-2004, 07:00 PM
liquidigital is right about this. If you are writing in hopes this will be sold or optioned you want to keep all 'direction' out of the screenplay.
However, if you are writing for YOU and intend to use this script to shoot YOUR film there is nothing wrong with writing a SHOOTING style script; make notes, scribble on it or whatever else.
A script that will be given to your talent however probally doesnt need all of that.
11-20-2004, 07:43 PM
so if i were to write a visual story and i wanted the shot to start from space and into planet earth- breaking through the atmosphere and into the clouds and shooting down fast into the mountains then to route 66 following a cargo truck... how would i write something like that without the implication of camera direction?
11-21-2004, 07:35 AM
Actually, you just did. If you add a couple words here and there, you're set, like...
'Stars illuminate the cold darkness above our atmosphere. Below, a layer of clouds seperate, revealing majestic mountain peaks. At the base, a cargo truck trudges down route 66.'
Or, you can follow something falling even, to give you the sense of speed you were after. You never really mentioned if this was on spec or if you plan to film this yourself, which would make a huge difference. On spec, keep it simple without shots, trim and sharp. If you're filming it, you could simply write it as you just did above and get as long winded as you want to.
11-21-2004, 11:57 AM
Yes there's a big difference when you write for someone else, or on spec. When I write for myself, I put everything I can think of. SOmetimes it's not even coherent to anyone else, but I get it.
11-22-2004, 06:40 PM
thanks alveraz. I thought I specified..
but initially it is for myself but i also believe in writing a good standard screenplay and incase i wanted to try and sell it i should do it right.
but i understand the difference.
11-22-2004, 08:53 PM
You know, it's great you think that way, most do not. It's always impressive when I read a script that is written without direction, and with the fundamentals secured first and foremost. Go with that, then, if you decide to shoot it yourself, spend time with your DP to plan out a shooting script. This way, you have two seperate but equally important scripts, one for cast, investors, marketing, etc.. and one for your crew.
I'm not saying that writing a shooting scipt by itself is invalid, many do it this way when they film their own work, I'm just saying that if time allows, why not write the best possible spec script first, then focus on the logistics afterwards.
It's ALL about the story, concentrate there first, you'll be fine. And, remember, if you plan to sell this, let the Prodco and director do their jobs with the shooting script, your job is to write the most compelling, original and tight story as possible.
Good luck ;D
11-24-2004, 03:15 AM
If you're trying to sell your script, especially in LA, take out all camera direction. Directors find it insulting and script readers are told to toss them (the scripts) in the trash can.
11-24-2004, 03:35 AM
As someone who was a profession script reader for several different producers and directors, I can tell you that putting camera direction in a script is putting your script in the round file. That was my direction from my bosses. It takes an exceptional script (and usually from an established writer) to use camera direction. One thing you have to remember as a script writer who wants to sell - it is the director that will decide how your script will be shot, not the writer. Unless, that is if you are planning to raise the money, produce, and direct, then you can put in camera direction.
11-25-2004, 01:08 PM
I don't know, I always write camera directions if I plan on directing it. But if you plan on having another director make it, never write directions.
11-25-2004, 10:15 PM
haha, everyone practically repeated the previous posts. funny.
11-26-2004, 02:37 AM
11-26-2004, 02:41 AM
Well, do it the way you want to do it. *If it sells, it sells. *If it doesn't, it doesn't. *But you asked a question and all I saw were people giving their honest opinions or experiences. *So, thanks for the big kick in the teeth to those of us who thought we might be giving a little insight.
01-20-2005, 06:12 AM
there is a great little screenwriting trick for this type of thing that you can use in spec scripts.
NOTE: Whatever you want to write about what's going on goes here.
INT. HALLWAY - DAY
NOTE: This sequence acts as a dolly shot.
Jerry saunters down the narrow corridor. . .
01-29-2005, 09:53 PM
The advice given by the previous posters in this thread is more or less accurate -- a spec script shouldn't, by and large, include camera direction.
That said, if a scene or moment in your script absolutely relies on visual information being conveyed in a specific, dynamic, or particularly unique way (e.g., a gag that requires camera to start close on a character and pull back to reveal something -- a person, a funny location, whatever), there's no harm in including it.
I was a professional script reader for over seven years and the sporadic inclusion of a camera direction (e.g. "Angle on") wasn't enough to make me dismiss the material. If the script's good, one or two bits of camera direction won't hurt it, and if the script's bad, it's bad regardless.
It's common, particularly in action scenes, to break up the story beats using character names as scene headings (in effect, this is indicating "Angle on this character"), which can help pick up the script's pace and make for easier reading. For example:
takes the controls of the plane.
straps on a parachute.
Of course, as everyone here has pointed out, in general, leave the camera direction to an absolute minimum in a spec script. A lot of screenwriters use the "we see" or "we follow so and so," but I always hated the use of "we." Much better to write in the active voice (e.g. "Jerry walks down the hall." rather than "We see Jerry walk down the hall.") Note that in some cases "we" can work just fine, in fact, you could use it in your shot swooping through the clouds to the truck:
EXT. SPACE - EARTH
We race toward the planet and swoop down through the clouds, etc.
Hope this helps.
02-05-2005, 12:35 AM
stas_tagios....finally another reader who shares my disdain of 'we' in specs.
thank you kindred soul