phone calls in scripts

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I am writing a scene in a film script where a phone call takes place, the main character calling his estranged wife from a bar. I want to cut between the wife in her home and the scene in the bar, showing both locations and characters. Do I keep this all in one scene and CUT TO: every time I switch location between the man and his wife or do I introduce the locations etc it in the scene action and then have it structured like regular dialogue without having to cut back and forth in my directions? Or do I need a new scene every time it switches locations? I have seen this handled differently in scripts including TV scripts but wondered if there was a standard way of doing this for a UK feature film script.

Advice greatly appreciated - thanks.
 

Plot Device

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Joe Calabrese showed me the "INTERCUT" method. Just tack on the word"INTERCUT" into the slug line and then there's no need to do the "CUT TO" stuff. It's simply understood (kinda like the "understood 'you'" from 5th grade English class) that this is a phone call and that we're going back and forth.

(And Joe--if I'm not recalling this correctly, feel free to jump on my case and holler at me.)


INT. BAR - NIGHT

John beeps out the number on his cell.

INTERCUT - MEGAN'S BACK PORCH - SAME

Megan sits reading a book. A phone RINGS just beside her. Not getting up, or even taking her eyes off the page, she answers.

MEGAN
Hello.

John hesitates in terror upon hearing her voice.

Megan grows suspicious at the silence and sits up in her chair.

MEGAN
Hello. Anybody there?

JOHN
(dry mouth)
Megan, hey. It's John.
 
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dpaterso

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Select Search this Forum (on the Screen Writing forum page) and enter intercut or telephone or other obvious keywords and you'll find plenty of examples in older threads, e.g.

Questions re telephone dialogue, montages, naming characters
One more question re: phone conversations
Phone call dialogue
V.O.

Looking at BBC Writersroom's script archive page,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/insight/script_archive.shtml

...there are scripts with phone conversations (including Hustle and Life On Mars episodes) but I can't detect a common standard, they just write in plain English, sometimes without even bothering to specify (V.O.) when a voice is speaking on the other end of the line, sometimes using italics instead. Bloody eccentric Brit screenwriters! Can't agree on anything.

I wrote something just the other week... where is it... yeah, just for a change I decided INTERCUT looked nice in the scene heading:

INT. AIRPORT CAFETERIA - DAY

Mary opens her mobile phone, thumbs a number.

INT. EXEC'S OFFICE - DAY (INTERCUT)

ROGER LAMBERT, 50s, power suit and orange suntan, answers his ringing phone.

ROGER
Roger Lambert.

MARY
Roger, it's Mary Johnstone.

ROGER
Mary, I expected you to be in by now.

MARY
Sorry, something's come up.

...which again is just plain English. As long as it's clear you can't really go wrong.

-Derek
 
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Plot Device

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Yeah, DP--I've seen it both ways. :) Either done the way I did it, where "INTERCUT" is the opening word of the slug. Or done the way you did it, where the word gets stuck at the end of the slug, sometime in parenthsis, sometimes not. :cool:

But in all cases I've seen, it starts with the first person who's got a phone in hand (either the answerer or the caller/dialer) and then, when we intro the other phone-in-hand person, we have a slug for that second person with the word "INTERCUT" somewhere in their slug.
 

ALLWritety

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Would you use intercut for a block of scenes? Not on the phone but where a large block of two locations are together and you are back and forth only between these two locations?
Kev
 

dpaterso

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Mini slugs might be more useful than INTERCUT, KC.

KITCHEN

Mother prepares dinner.

LIVING ROOM

Kids watch cartoons on TV

KITCHEN

The phone RINGS, Mother answers with a smile.

MOTHER
Hi there!

She loses her smile and listens intently.

LIVING ROOM

KID
Mom! I'm hungry!

KITCHEN

Mother lifts a suitcase onto the table. She opens it, takes out components for a sniper's rifle, snaps and screws them together.

-Derek
 

Hillgate

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For phone calls I always start with an INTERCUT TELEPHONE CONVERSATION slug and then a one line narrative explaining where each participant is.

I like mini-slugs for switching quickly between scenes, although you'll need to watch this when scheduling to ensure all mini-slugs are picked up under the relevant global 'slug' and you don't over or under estimate the script/filming length.

For spec scripts, don't worry about this obviously!
 

Plot Device

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For phone calls I always start with an INTERCUT TELEPHONE CONVERSATION slug and then a one line narrative explaining where each participant is.

I like mini-slugs for switching quickly between scenes, although you'll need to watch this when scheduling to ensure all mini-slugs are picked up under the relevant global 'slug' and you don't over or under estimate the script/filming length.

For spec scripts, don't worry about this obviously!


Thanks, Hillgate. Can you give an example? :)
 

endless rewrite

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Just wanted to say thank you for those useful answers, the examples were really helpful as well.
 

Hillgate

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Thanks, Hillgate. Can you give an example? :)

Err...it's two things: telecons (I guess):

INT. PLOTDEVICE'S ROOM -- NIGHT

Plotdevice lies in bed and opens the book 'Waxing for Beginners'. The phone RINGS. Plotdevice picks up.

INTERCUT TELEPHONE CONVERSATION:

A buxom lady, GINNIE, 55, lies in bed somewhere in Tallahassee covered in strips of wax.

GINNIE
Did I do this right, hon?

PLOTDEVICE
Mom? That you? Did you do what?

GINNIE
I don't know anymore --

She rips off a strip of wax and SCREAMS.

PLOTDEVICE
Is someone trying to kill you?

GINNIE
No. My plot-device.

PLOTDEVICE
Someone's trying to kill ME?

GINNIE rips off another strip and SCREAMS.

Eg # 2 - mini-slugs

EXT. GRAND CANYON -- DAY

Chuck parascends down to

THE SPACESHIP

which lies on the canyon floor. Chuck unhitches his laser-blaster.

INT. SPRINGFIELD KNITTING CENTRE -- NIGHT

Grannie Hobbs stabs herself in the eye with a knitting needle. She grins.

BACK TO GRAND CANYON

Chuck TAPS the hull with a knitting needle.

BACK TO SPRINGFIELD

Grannie Hobbs slowly pulls the needle from her eye to reveal an artificial metallic lens beneath the blood.

BACK TO GRAND CANYON

Chuck's eyes widen as he stares through a tiny circular hatch in the spaceship.

CHUCK
Grandma?

Err...;)
 
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