How to Format a Shooting Script

by Todd Bowerman

A shooting script is the final version of a screenplay and the basic building block for movies and television shows. Without a screenplay, actors do not have lines, directors do not have locations and the art department does not know what to build. Because each element of a screenplay is important in successfully making a movie or show, your screenplay should follow the established writing format. This format is designed to make each element of the screenplay easy to find and identify.

Step 1

Add headings for each scene that explain the location and time of day. These should be capitalized and aligned to the left-hand side of the page. An example would be "INT. COFFEE SHOP -- MORNING."

Step 2

Center and capitalize the name of the speaking character. This name goes on its own line, with the spoken words going on the line below.

Step 3

Write descriptive terms, left aligned, on their own lines below the scene heading. Following the coffee shop example, a description could be "Early morning, pale light. The shop is crowded but quiet, with a hint of age and dirt."

Step 4

Place character actions directly below the character name, before the spoken line. These actions go in parentheses and describe what a character is doing while he speaks.

Step 5

Place a "(Continued)" marker at the bottom of a page if a character's line or a scene description carries over to the next one. Resume the line with the character's name and a "(Continued)" marker.

Step 6

Provide specific instructions related to shooting, such as scene numbers, chosen camera angles, montages and intercuts. The director will request these things be added to the script as time moves on.