Peter Langmead's Blog

Film Director, Screenwriter, Composer, Steadicam operator, Social Documentary Photographer. My latest film is The Borderline, released on December 4, 2019.

Writing Film Scripts 7: Filling it Out

Often, I do not have nearly enough to start at this stage, but I switch the left-hand pane to Page, so that I can start writing the script. I am not able to plan the whole screenplay as some people can, so I just start writing, nearly always from the beginning, which I am pleased to be good at! Not everyone can; in fact, most cannot. For those of you with starting difficulties, start wherever you can, anywhere in the script. Just CTRL-2 and type in the scene heading, whether it is EXT. or INT., the rough LOCATION, and whether is it DAY or NIGHT.

Final Draft layout for Page view and for Scene view In Final Draft, I often have 'Page' on the left and 'Scene View' on the right. Sometimes I use 'Index Cards' if I want to see more.

Something like:


Carriage return to the action statement. Type it. Now type in the next scene heading with its action statement.

Switch the right-hand panel to index cards or scenes; both give you scene headings. Index cards give more action statement, but I prefer the scene views. Colour code them the same as the beat board. Clearly, you can start anywhere in the story, just colour code it accordingly. (It is quickest to add scene headings in the Page pane.)

Literally, CTRL-2, type the scene headings in the page pane and then use scene views or index cards to colour code them by Act. If a scene heading is in the wrong place in the page pane, in scene views or index cards drag it with the cursor to the right place, and change the colour if necessary. The story should be linear, starting at the beginning and finishing at the end, and leave it like that unless you are directing and producing it. Your audience of script doctors and readers will not understand it if it is non-linear postmodern; they have a hard time visualising linear script. You renumber scene headings with >production >scene numbers.

Put dialogue in whenever you like. Men and women have different thought processes and do not speak the same way. Men are not good at writing dialogue for women and vice versa, which justifies writing rooms and explains why many scripts fail. In the last section, we saw waypoints in the script: the inciting incident, transition at the end of act one, the centre point, the transition at the end of act two. Younger male filmgoers want films as subtle as Thor’s hammer while the other extreme manages on body language alone. Action movies are easy to produce because you need a car chase, a man chase, a physical fight, a gun fight, some car crashes, a few violent deaths, fast cars, some explosions and spectacular action with a lot of swearing and 16+ sex scenes for quiet home viewing.

In the original ‘The Magnificent Seven’, James Coburn famously says only four words, but films are visual stories so action and noise tell the story, otherwise everyone would have to act, God forbid. At the other extreme, there is Pride and Prejudice with lots of acting, and a two hundred-year-old culture of high social behaviour and good manners of an elite without the contrast of the desperate poverty of the time.

Now, there are series' like 'Money Heist', that is probably the current peak of action and stress where, presumably, the writer’s room has lists of activities that are spread throughout the seasons. Of course, we can do the same thing, whether Tokyo has fallen out of love with Rio at the end of an episode or Nairobi is only wounded, or devastatingly shot dead, after showing her motherly nature of wanting a child by The Professor. Is it 34 million or more around the world think this is an exceptional series?

Best regards,

Peter Langmead

P.S. Please have a look at my website here, for all sorts of interesting things about my film productions, operas and books on social photography. Remember, if there is no spit on the lens, you are not close enough - I do not know who said that but it is true. Write to me if you have a question.

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The Next Movie

The script is prepared for my next movie and pre-production is in progress. This is the most time-consuming part of filmmaking and production is expected to begin at the end of the year,