Screenwriting – Montages

Without doing research on montages (I’ve only
used them when I’m directing and writing, or
working with a director as the screenwriter
when we’re writing the shooting script, which
is different than a spec script), I have to say
to limit the use of montages. I haven’t used
them for so long I find it hard to remember
how long they should be.

You want to be careful with montages. For a
new writers, some actors, directors and
producers look at new screenwriters using
montages as amateurish. Some would also
look at it as directing, which could cause
some negative feelings.

Montages are usually used in shooting scripts.
That means that the director working with
the screenwriter makes the decision, “Let’s
put in a montage here.” The director is
thinking in terms of the visuals and the flow,
how they fit into and tell the story. The producer,
on the other hand, would look at a way
to use montages to save money.

Writing/Screenwriting Scenes

by
Donald L. Vasicek

Award-Winning Writer Donald L. Vasicek - Jenny's Lake - Grand Teton Park


When writing scripts, always think of movies and how
they transition from scene-to-scene. This is imperative.
This approach gives you more of a director’s
“eye.” In turn, the visual dynamics of writing visually
become more prominent the more you do it.
This gives a rhythm and movement to the entire script
that binds it more tightly together. It also helps you
avoid writer’s block. “Stepping” back and
looking at a scene that you’ve written with the idea of
looking at it like it is already a movie, when your mind
is blocking out, will improve your visual writing dynamics
and the scene. Step into the scene and become your
character.

For example, you have a character coming into a room.
How should you write that? Step back and look at it
as though you’re watching a movie? Think of a movie,
or movies that you have seen with this kind of action
with respect to the genre and kind of character you’re
writing. How is the character coming into the room done?

You will find that most good movies always cut-to-the-chase
with each scene. They do not mess around with details
that hinder the movement of the movie. If a character has
to be thrown into the room because she is a prisoner of
terrorists, then, throw her into the room. If a character simply
has to walk into the room, then, cut-to-the-chase. Get her
into the room as quickly as possible. Just make sure that
it is consistent with the rhythm and movement of the entire
story/script/movie/character.

For example, a character in your story is mild-mannered.
She loves daisies and brandy. She reads James Joyce.
She is a certified public accountant for a large accounting
firm. Everything she does has a place. How would you write
her entering a room? She would enter the room with
grace. She would smoothly take in everything in the
room. She would then proceed with the reason she is
entering the room.

Making scenes sparkle like this enhances the screenwriter’s
ability to excel in their craft.

Donald L. Vasicek
The Zen of Writing
http://www.donvasicek.com
dvasicek@earthlink.net
303-903-2103