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GLOSSARY





Adaptation Putting existing material e.g. a novel, into screenplay format. Involves choosing which aspects of the story do and don't make it onto the screen.

Agent An agent helps a writer to find work and/or sell their screenplay. Their fee is commission based and is 10%. A WGA agent is signatory to the Writers Guild of America and agrees to abide by certain rules established by the WGA.

Analyst See Story Analyst

Ancillary Rights Enables the screenwriter to receive a percentage of profits derived from a feature film's books, posters, toys, t-shirts etc.

Antagonist Villain or bad-guy who is in conflict with the protagonist.

Anticlimax When the audience is led to story crescendo that fails to deliver and leaves them feeling disappointed.

Antihero Protagonist who does not fit the accepted hero archetype.

Assignment See Work-for-hire

Atmosphere Tone or dimension most often added through music, weather, set dressing and camera angles.

Avant Garde Experimental film outside the usual boundaries.

b.g. Script annotation meaning background - any action or prop which is secondary to the main action.

Backend The profits from theater ticket sales, video rentals, dvd sales and ancillary markets.

Beat See Story Beat

Billing The size and placement of names both in the opening credits on screen and in any printed advertising materials.

Biographic Film A true life story told through film

Blockbuster A feature film that grosses huge theater ticket sales.

Box-Office Theatre ticket sales

Brads Brass fasteners used to hold the pages of a screenplay together.

Breakdown Script Detailed list of any actors, props etc that are required for a film shoot on a day-by-day basis.

Budget Financial breakdown of every cost involved with the making of a film - broken down into above the line and below the line costs.

Censorship A film for theatrical release is reviewed by a film classification board which may request certain changes before release will be allowed, or allowed under a certain age rating.

Certificate of Authorship Legal document by the author of a screenplay, stating that the author's work is original, does not libel another party, does not invade anyone's privacy and will not cause the buyer of the work to be sued for any legal action.

Character Arc The development, growth and eventual transformation of a character throughout the course of the screenplay.

Close Up The screenplay annotation is c.u. A camera shot which emphasizes some part of an actor or object.

Compensation Monies paid to the writer for the sale of a screenplay or writing services performed.

Contingent Compensation May include a production bonus, net profits, reserved rights and/or additional payment in the event of a sequel.

Copyright Protection placed upon any original and creative expression that is in a fixed and tangible form, e.g. books, music, films etc.

Coverage Report generated by a reader/story analyst involving the review and evaluation of a screenplay for potential purchase or option. A grade will be given in the form of Recommend, Consider or Pass.

Credit Identification of a written work, "Story by", "Screenplay by" or "Written by".

Cross-Genre The combination of two genres e.g. Horror-Musical.

Cut To Visual direction that is most used when cutting back and forth in a chase sequence.

Deferred Compensation Monies to be paid from net profits.

Denoument Concluding scenes in a film where the story elements are now finished and the character's status after the climax is shown.

Deux Ex Machina A resolution to a plot problem that is too convenient for the writer and unbelievable to the audience.

Development Process that a script is put through before production in which it is altered and modified in order to suit the personal vision of any executive or individual who is attached to the project and has the power to request such changes.

Director The chief creative force behind a feature film.

Dissolve To Visual direction to indicate that the end of the scene will fade gradually into the next scene.

Epic Film on a grand sweeping scale that will require an immense production in order to be realized - often historical in context.

Ext. Exterior - scene direction that the scene occurs outdoors.

f.g. Script annotation meaning foreground - any action or prop which is closest to the camera.

Fade In First words of a screenplay to indicate that the screenplay is beginning.

Fade Out Last words of a screenplay to indicate that the screenplay has ended.

Feature A film targeted for a movie theatrical release, which is at least 60 minutes long.

First Draft A first complete draft of any script in continuity form, including dialogue.

Flashbacks A scene/scenes that break the main narrative of the screenplay and depict events that happened at some point in the past.

Flashforwards A scene/scenes that break the main narrative of the screenplay and depict events that are happening in the future.

High Concept A unique premise easily understood in one sentence e.g. "Jaws in space" (Alien).

Inciting Scene The necessary scene at the beginning of every screenplay that serves as a catalyst for the main action of the story.

Indie Independent film - a film produced by an independent and not a major movie studio.

Int. Interior - scene direction that the scene occurs indoors.

Logline Between one to three lines describing the story, focusing on the concept and not giving away the ending.

Majors The major Hollywood studios are MGM/UA, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Universal and Disney.

Manager A manager is neither licensed or regulated and is not supposed to make deals on behalf of their clients. Their fee is commission based and is 15%.

Minimum Basic Agreement Fees and basic working conditions for the employment of writers as negotiated and set forth by the Writers Guild of America.

Montage Rapid succession of shots.

MOW Movie of the week - tv term

Off Screen The script annotation is o.s. Dialogue or sound that is heard without being viewed by the camera lens.

On the nose A phrase used to describe dialogue that too plainly reveals the character's thoughts and intentions.

Option/Sale When a company or individual options a screenplay, they have the exclusive right to produce that screenplay within a specified amount of time - usually a year. The contract will specify the fee being paid for the option and the eventual sale price of the screenplay.

P.O.V. Point of view.

Packaging Process whereby an agency who represents writers, actors, directors etc will attach them to a single project and then present the project, with attachments, to a studio.

Pitch The basic premise of your story told in succinct form designed to entice the listener into requesting or buying your work.

Polish Not as drastic as a re-write. Involving minor changes to dialogue, narration or action.

Premise The basis of the story idea in its simplest form.

Producer The chief person in all matters relating to the production of a screenplay, except in the creative efforts of the director. Typically involves finding the material, arranging funding, hiring key personnel and arranging for distribution.

Production Bonus Cash bonus given to the writer of a screenplay who receives shared or sole "Story by", "Screenplay by" or "Written by" credit once the screenplay becomes a film.

Public Domain When a work enters the public domain it no longer falls under copyright rule.

Query Letter A one page letter to entice a prospective agent or producer into requesting and reading your work - provides only brief and relevant information.

Reader See Story Analyst.

Readers Script This is the format in which a screenplay should be submitted to a production company. It should not contain scene numbers or visual directions and should preferably be within 120 pages.

Registering Means of protecting a screenplay by sending a sealed copy to the WGA, or other such recognized regulatory body, who will hold the date stamped screenplay and present it in the event of a dispute.

Rewrite Far more extensive than a polish and encompassing major changes in the plot, story line and characters of a script.

Scene Cards Method by which a screenwriter describes each scene on an index card and then arranges and rearranges the cards in order to work out the most satisfying story structure.

Screenplay A written body of work intended for production as a feature film. Normally between 90-120 pages.

Screenwriter A writer who writes screenplays and/or re-writes other screenwriters work.

Script A written work in either the form of a screenplay, shooting script, spec script etc for either feature film or television production.

Series Of Shots Typically used to show the passing of time.

Set Up Groundwork laid for a dramatic or comedic situation and its eventual resolve.

Shooting Script The working screenplay that includes scene numbers, camera angles, inserts etc.

Spec Script Screenplay written by a writer on their own initiative, with the hope of selling or optioning the screenplay once completed.

Story Analyst Individual who reads scripts and provides coverage reports based on their opinion of the script.

Story Beat A plot point within the overall story structure.

Studio A principal that hires production companies and/or produces their own feature films.

Submission Release Form A legal waiver, signed by the writer, which protects the production company in the event they produce another screenplay that is similar to the writer's screenplay. Necessary in the world of film making where there are very few original story ideas.

Subplot The story beneath the main story.

Super Superimpose. One image shown over another, most commonly used when the titles are superimposed over the opening scenes.

Synopsis Summary of the screenplay told in present tense.

Talent Informal term for actors.

Treatment Longer than a synopsis, a blow by blow account of the story with all important details present, told in present tense.

Unsolicited Submission A screenplay submission from outside a professional source i.e. agent, manager, lawyer, producer. Many companies adopt the policy of refusing to read unsolicited submissions.

Voice Over The script annotation is v.o. A character's voice is heard over the top of a scene. This is most commonly used to narrate part of the story. The speaker will not be shown.

Work-for-hire A screenwriter is hired to undertake a work for a negotiated fee, whether they be provided with an original idea, an adaptation or a re-write of an existing work. The rights will belong to whoever commissioned the writer.

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