Transition used in Stage format, denoting the beginning and discovery of a scene by the illumination of lights onto a particular area of the stage.
The location is the particular place or setting in which a scene takes place.
At the end of Act One, the main character is “locked-in” the predicament that will be central to the story, propelling him/her into a new direction to obtain his/her goal.
A log line is a brief one-sentence summary of the pitch for a proposed movie or television series.
Camera shot that is taken at a considerable distance from the subject, usually containing a large number of background objects. Always spelled out in capital letters.
Shorthand for "Magic Hour," the short period of time around sunset.
The main culmination, or climax, is the ultimate decisive moment at the end of Act Two, in which the character has done everything he or she could do to reach the desired objective, and now he or she faces his/her highest obstacle and the end of the main tension. This moment usually works in opposition from the midpoint and end. If the character wins in the end - and therefore at the midpoint/first culmination as well - then this should be his lowest moment.
An edit in which physical elements or actions in the first shot greatly resemble actions or physical elements in the next shot. One classic example of this is from Hitchock’s North by Northwest in which a shot of Cary Grant pulling Eva Marie Saint up off Mount Rushmore turns into a matching shot in which he pulls her up into a bunk bed. Another is the match cut from the shower drain to Janet Leigh’s eye in Psycho.
MATCH CUT TO:
A match cut is any cut from one scene to another, in which the two camera shots compositional elements match, helping to establish a strong continuity of action. It can be used to underline a connection between two separate elements, or for purely visual reasons. In a match cut, an object or action shown in the first shot is repeated in some fashion in the second shot; the objects may be the same, be similar, or have similar shapes or uses.
MATCH DISSOLVE TO:
A match cut dissolve is a transition very similar to the MATCH CUT. The only difference is that the picture dissolves between the two objects of similar color, shape, size, or movement from one scene into the next.
MEDIUM SHOT (MED. SHOT)
Camera shot often used to describe a shot of character approximately from the waist up.
The midpoint (also called the first culmination) is the first decisive moment in which the character faces his/her highest obstacle so far. This moment usually parallels the end of the film; therefore, if the film is a tragedy, then the first culmination should be a low point for the character. If the character wins in the end, then the first culmination should be a victory for the character.
The first culmination (or midpoint) and the main culmination (end of act two) are almost always in contrast with each other. If the script has a tragic midpoint and ending, then the protagonist should have a major victory at the end of the second act.
The first culmination (or midpoint) and the end of the film usually mirror each other. If the protagonist wins in the end of the script, then he should have a victory at the midpoint. If it’s a tragic ending for our hero, then he should also have a tragedy at the midpoint.
A monologue is a long speech by one character, usually preaching or lecturing to others when the conflict is at a high point.
A montage is a series of images showing a theme, an event, a contradiction, a passage of time, etc.
The mood is the atmosphere or pervading tone of the scene, sequence, act, or even the entire script.
MOVING / MOVING SHOT
Camera shot which follows whatever is being filmed.
Mystery creates tension by presenting a puzzle, something unknown, enigmatic, or disturbing. It provokes the viewer’s curiosity and asks him to use his inquisitiveness to solve the riddle.
Mythic characters are usually heroic characters that encourage us or motivate us into new behaviors or new understandings, ultimately making us better people as we identify with the “good”, which is often rooted from mythology, fables, and folklore.
Off-screen commentary, which is heard over the action. Also referred to as a voice over.
Nonhuman characters are most often human characters with a beak, a purr, or webbed feat. They are anthropomorphic animals.
Off-camera (O.C.) is seen next to a CHARACTER’S name in all CAPS and inside a parenthetical before a specific piece of dialogue. It indicates that the writer wants a particular character to be present at the location, but only wants that character to be heard, not seen.
Off-screen (O.S.) is seen next to a CHARACTER’S name in all CAPS and inside a parenthetical before a specific piece of dialogue. It indicates that the writer wants a particular character to be present at the location, but only wants that character to be heard, not seen.
An objective is a goal. The protagonist’s objective is his want or need or desire to accomplish something.
An obligatory scene is a scene which the viewer waits for and excitedly looks forward to. It tension is an eager anticipation of the future, then the obligatory scene is one that the viewer consciously expects.
The action or process of observing something or someone carefully in order to gain information.
Obstacles occur throughout the entire script but are thought of as the building blocks of the second act. Each sequence has it’s own conflict, it’s own obstacle, and the obstacles continue to increase in difficulty as we move forward with the story.
Indicates that the character speaking is not visible in the frame. Always abbreviated in all capital letters and enclosed in parentheses.
One-string characters usually appear in one or just a few scenes and have primarily only a functional role belonging to a location, place, or environment. They do not suggest any special story line of their own nor are they involved in any dramatic predicament, and therefore, if they reappear in the story again, they repeat the same ‘one-string’ effect.
Camera shot (from the word panorama) where the camera moves gradually from right to left or left to right, without stopping; to slowly move to another subject or setting without cutting the action.
A pitch is a concise verbal (and sometimes visual - through a log line or storyboard art) presentation of an idea for a film or television series.
Planting and Payoff
Planting and payoff is a device by which a motif, a line of dialogue, a gesture, behavioral mannerism, costume, prop or any combination of these is introduced into a story and then repeated as the story progresses. In the changed circumstances toward the resolution, the planted information assumes a new meaning and “pays off”.
The plot is the main events of the story, devised by the writer, and presented as an interrelated whole. In a screenplay the plot is structured through three acts, including eight main sequences (sometimes nine or ten), and five major plot points.
Point of Attack
The point of attack (also called the inciting incident) is the moment - and first major plot point - at which the dramatic conflict, hidden up until now, announces itself. This moment occurs about half way through the first act.
POINT OF VIEW (P.O.V.)
Camera position that views a scene from the viewpoint of a particular character. Always abbreviated in capital letters with periods after each letter.
Polarity is the reversal from one pole of the experience to its opposite - that is, where has the character come from and where is he/she going? In almost every dramatic story, the beginning and the end are principally polar: happiness/unhappiness; hate/love; vengeance/forgiveness; naivete; maturity, etc.
The point of view (POV) is the position from which something or someone is observed. When using voice over, it can be the narrator’s position in relation to the story being told. POV can also be an effective way to describe the way the audience sees the scene. The camera replaces the eyes - sometimes the ears as well - of a character, monster, machine, surveillance camera, etc. As a result, we get to see the world through the sensory devices of some other character or creature. This can be used to build tension and suspense, bring a surprise, or deliver a revelation.
Scenes of preparation are usually scenes of a character getting ready for the dramatic confrontation ahead. They are opportunities to rev up the audience emotionally for the upcoming shock.
Props are portable objects other than furniture or costumes used by characters in a scene.
The protagonist is the leading character in the script. He/she is usually depicted as the hero, but occasionally the protagonist is an antihero.