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Thread: Phone conversations

  1. #1
    Last of a Dying Breed popmuze's Avatar
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    Phone conversations

    Anyone have any creative ways to deal with phone conversations in a script? Seems like I've got a lot of them. I've stayed away from split screen and mainly used (V.O.) because the dialog on the other end is important.

  2. #2
    An unknown known SJWangsness's Avatar
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    Not really. You can also intercut between the two. Just write something before the conversation like "Intercutting between John and Mary, on the phone." You don't have to decide who's on screen when, unless there is some point in the conversation where that is important. Otherwise, the film editor and director can figure that all out.

  3. #3
    Last of a Dying Breed popmuze's Avatar
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    I like that.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW
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    A couple of cautions about using a lot of phone calls: First, they break the "show don't tell" rule. Second, they aren't particularly interesting to watch unless there is some associated action (like duct taping the victim to the chair while talking on the phone) but even then cutting back and forth can start the audiences head spinning. Finally, keep them short. The rule I was taught was to write the phone call with as few words as possible then cut out half the words that remain.

    Just my thoughts.

    Doug B

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW cmhbob's Avatar
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    One of the best phone call scenes I can think of.

    https://youtu.be/dB4__mvTyL0?t=1m43s

  6. #6
    Last of a Dying Breed popmuze's Avatar
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    I'm just about done with my first draft. In the next draft I'll probably have to think of a way to eliminate half of my phone call scenes.

  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin JJKHawaiian's Avatar
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    Well, there has been a couple of movies I can think of that was mostly phone conversation. "The Phone Booth" (or The Booth) and "The Cellphone".
    Of course, there were chase scenes almost as long as the phone call in one, and the other had a sniper aiming at the guy in the phone booth. Not sure if you have those dramatic reasons in your script, but I'm sure you can find a way to keep the important talking points and trim the fat.

    I also have a few phone conversations in my first screenplay that I just wrote. Some are 1-sided, some are v.o., some are dual cuts, some are voicemail (1 listens and 1 leaves). Phone calls are needed. Just how much talking and what kind, who talks, etc.

    Cut out all the "Jack: Hello Lisa: Hi there. How are you doing? Jack: Oh fine. What's up? Lisa: I just wanted to...".
    A trick I heard to use is come in late and leave early. Only leave the meat. Also, you can translate some of that dialog into dialog later in the story by 2 people talking. "Jack: Oh, you know who called? Frank: Let me guess. Lisa. Jack: Yeah. She said that Sarah was going to...".
    Last edited by JJKHawaiian; Yesterday at 03:16 AM.
    John Hamilton

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