Script To Screen: “Blue Velvet”

October 15th, 2014 by

A scene from the 1986 movie Blue Velvet, written by David Lynch.

IMDB Plot Summary: The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of criminals who have kidnapped her child.

In this scene, Frank (Dennis Hopper) having discovered Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) spending time with Frank’s love interest Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini), takes Jeffrey on a “joyride” with some of Frank’s thugs, Dorothy and a character known as Greasy Girl.


               INT. FRANK'S CAR / DIRT ROAD - NIGHT

               Frank angrily swerves the car off onto a small dirt road 
               bouncing down it, screeching to a halt near an orchard of 
               trees. He turns violently around to Jeffrey.

                                     FRANK
                         What are you lookin' at?

                                     JEFFREY
                         Nothing.

                                     FRANK
                              (locks eyes with 
                              Jeffrey; long pause)
                         Don't look at me, Fuck. I shoot when 
                         I see the whites of the eyes.
                              (takes helium)
                         You like me?

               Jeffrey is quiet.

                                     FRANK
                              (still high voice)
                         Look at these. What are these?

                                     DOROTHY
                         Come on, Frank. Let's go. Please.

               Frank is doing something to Dorothy's chest but Jeffrey can't 
               see.

                                     FRANK
                         Don't say PLEASE, Fuckhead. WHAT ARE 
                         THESE?

                                     DOROTHY
                         Those are my breasts.

                                     FRANK
                         Can I feel 'em?

                                     DOROTHY
                         If you want to.

               Frank takes helium.

                                     FRANK
                         Baby wants to pinch 'em.

               She winces and tries to pull away.

                                     FRANK
                              (continuing)
                         What's the matter? Give 'em back. 
                         They're just a little red, that's 
                         all. Let me feel 'em again. Come 
                         here.

               Frank pulls her over and starts to pinch her again. It really 
               hurts her and she is frightened and in pain.

                                     JEFFREY
                         Hey. Leave her alone.

               Frank pretends not to hear Jeffrey and pinches Dorothy's 
               breasts real hard. She stifles a scream. Jeffrey gets mad. 
               He hits Frank hard in the face. Everyone is deadly silent as 
               Frank turns to Jeffrey. Frank stares at Jeffrey.

                                     FRANK
                         NEXT! Out of the car fuck. HELP HIM 
                         OUT, RAYMOND!!

               EXT. FRANK'S CAR / DIRT ROAD - NIGHT

               Frank gets out and presses his face against the rear window. 
               His distorted face is hideous. He opens the back door. Raymond 
               and Paul grab Jeffrey and pull him out of the car. The Greasy 
               Girl laughs nervously.

                                     DOROTHY
                         Frank, he didn't mean it. Leave him 
                         alone. Come on. He didn't mean it.

                                     FRANK
                         Shut up. Gimme your lipstick.
                              (takes gas)
                         Hey, pretty, pretty.

               Dorothy doesn't move fast enough so Frank dumps her whole 
               purse out on the front seat and grabs the lipstick and a 
               flashlight. He puts lipstick heavy onto his lips.

               While Raymond and Paul hold Jeffrey. Frank kisses Jeffrey 
               all over the mouth. Jeffrey tries to hit Frank and pull away, 
               but Raymond and Paul have a hold of him. Jeffrey looks very 
               strange with these big blotches of red lipstick on his face 
               and mouth.

                                     DOROTHY
                         LEAVE HIM ALONE!! FRANK!!

               Frank slams the front door shut to muffle Dorothy. He grabs 
               Jeffrey and presses his frightened face against the front 
               window. Then, the back window. Then, he flops Jeffrey up on 
               the hood with Paul's help and presses Jeffrey's face against 
               the rear window. Inside the car, this show is crazy and scary. 
               Then, Frank takes Jeffrey over to the side of the car again.

                                     FRANK
                              (to Jeffrey)
                         You're fuckin' lucky to be alive. 
                         LOOK AT ME!

               Raymond pulls Jeffrey's face back so he's looking at Frank. 
               Dorothy and the Greasy Girl watch in terror.

                                     FRANK
                         Don't be a good neighbor to her or 
                         I'm gonna send you a love letter. 
                         Straight from my heart, fucker. You 
                         know what a love letter is? It's a 
                         bullet, straight from my gun, fucker. 
                         Once you get a love letter from me, 
                         you're fucked forever. Understand, 
                         Fuck?

                                     JEFFREY
                         Yes.

                                     FRANK
                         I'll send you straight to hell, Fuck!

               Frank takes a small square of blue velvet out of his pocket 
               and begins feeling Jeffrey's face with it.

                                     FRANK
                              (continuing; breathing 
                              heavily)
                         You feel good. Feel my muscles.

               Raymond makes Jeffrey raise his arm and Jeffrey feels Frank's 
               biceps.

                                     FRANK
                              (continuing)
                         You like that?
                              (to Raymond and Paul)
                         Hold him tight for me.

               Suddenly Frank starts hitting Jeffrey in the face. Dorothy 
               screams at the car window.

                                                              CUT TO BLACK:

Here is the movie version of the scene:

The scene plays out pretty much as written with one major exception: The addition of the Roy Orbison song “In Dreams”. What is described in the script simply as this — “Frank takes a small square of blue velvet out of his pocket and begins feeling Jeffrey’s face with it” — has Frank echoing lines of dialogue from the song as it plays on the car tape player.

In dreams I walk with you. In dreams I talk to you.
In dreams you’re mine. All of the time we’re together
In dreams, In dreams.

It provides a level of homoeroticism that takes the scene from creepy… to really creepy. Combined with Greasy Girl shifting from the mood in the script — “watch in terror” — to her dancing on the car while Frank terrorizes Jeffrey, adding a darkly comic twist, what Lynch ends up with is a memorable scene.

Any Blue Velvet fans out there? The movie was released domestically on October 30, 1986, so it’s coming up on its 28th birthday. Arguably Lynch’s best movie, I think it’s about time for another screening.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “The Birds”

October 8th, 2014 by

A scene from the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock thriller The Birds, screenplay by Evan Hunter, short story by Daphne Du Maurier.

IMDB Plot Summary: A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people there in increasing numbers and with increasing viciousness.

This is one of the more memorable scenes in the movie: school children attempting to escape an onslaught of attacking birds.

               FULL SHOT - THE ROOM

               Through the windows, we can see the waiting crows. One moves 
               restlessly into flight, then settles on the equipment again.

                                     ANNIE
                         Quiet down, children! Quiet down!

               The children modulate into silence.

                                     ANNIE
                         Miss Daniels wants to see how we 
                         conduct ourselves during a fire drill. 
                         I'd like you to...

                                     CHILDREN
                              (grumbling in Unison)
                         A fire drill? This is our play period, 
                         Miss Hayworth! Gee whiz!  Etc.

                                     ANNIE
                         I'd like you to show her how quiet 
                         and obedient you can be.

               The children again fall silent.

                                     ANNIE
                         We're going to go out of the school 
                         now. Those of you who live nearby 
                         can go directly home. I want the 
                         rest of you to go down the hill, all 
                         the way to the hotel. Do you 
                         understand?

                                     CHILDREN
                         All the way down the hill? Gee, Miss 
                         Hayworth, we never... Home? Why do 
                         we...?

                                     ANNIE
                              (shushing them)
                         I want you to go as quietly as you 
                         can, not a sound, until I tell you 
                         to run. And then I want you to run 
                         as fast as you can. Does everyone 
                         understand?
                              (pause - silence)
                         All right. John, would you lead the 
                         class, please?

               The children walk two-by-two to the corridor door. John opens 
               it, and they begin filing out. Melanie turns to look at the 
               play yard.

               CLOSE SHOT - A SINGLE CROW

               fluttering at the window, almost in exploration. He hangs 
               there for a moment, then wings back to the playground 
               equipment.

               CLOSE SHOT - MELANIE

                                     MELANIE
                              (whispering)
                         Hurry!

               EXT. PLAY YARD - FULL SHOT (6)

               straight on of all the crows.

               NEARER SHOT - PLAY YARD (8)

               but a different angle.

               CLOSER SHOT - PLAY YARD (10)

               but a different angle from the others

               CLOSE SHOT - (12)

               A low angle of five or six crows filling the screen.

               EXT. PLAY YARD

               The screen is filled with crows. About fifty or more. All of 
               a sudden we HEAR the distant PATTERING of children's feet as 
               they start running. Immediately the crows rise and the CAMERA 
               PANS UP with them into the sky.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - LONG SHOT - (PLATE) (15)

               The FULL SHOT showing the children running toward the CAMERA - 
               Annie herding them at the rear. The crows - about two hundred - 
               rising over the schoolhouse roof and descending toward and 
               reaching the running children. Shot as a moving background 
               with six or seven children in front on a treadmill with the 
               mechanical birds coming into top of screen as though 
               continuing on from the plate. The birds swing around and 
               among the foreground children.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (4) (S)

               A side view of running children with Melanie in front urging 
               them forward. Birds fly between them, two or three others 
               wheel around, one live one sweeps by in foreground.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (3) (P)

               Three or four children running. Birds overhead - one or two 
               children spread out as others come in from sides and take 
               their places. Birds swerve in and out.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (2) (S)

               Profile of running child. Bird catches up and bites.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (3) (S)

               A nearer side on view without Melanie. Birds wheeling in and 
               out - others overhead.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (P)

               Bird on top of girl's head (showing feet and wings).

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (2) (S)

               A three-quarter back of two children running - lots of birds 
               overhead and others wheeling. Screen almost full of birds.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (P)

               One-half child's face - a bird's head and beak on left, 
               dashing round to the child.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - CLOSE UP (L)

               of feet running.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - HIGH MOVING SHOT (6) (L)

               showing the crows among the running children.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (P)

               Big head of girl - bird lands on her right shoulder - wing 
               over her face.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (P)

               One SCREAMING child as bird swoops from top left down to 
               lower right.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (2) (S)

               Head and shoulders of boy who ducks behind pole -- bird goes 
               by as another attacks him from right-hand side.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (FP)

               Back view of boy's head running. He looks back.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (½) (P)

               Big head of bird coming at CAMERA.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (FP)

               Back view of little girl running. She looks over her shoulder.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (½) (P)

               Big head of bird coming into CAMERA.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (3) (L)

               Straight back CLOSE SHOT of Annie dragging slow children. No 
               birds in back, but several wheeling around them.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - HIGH MOVING SHOT (6) (L)

               showing the crows chasing the children down the street - 
               with the Bay in the distance.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (3) (S)

               A bird dives to head of Michele and she falls OUT of picture.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - CLOSE UP (1) (L)

               of Michele as she hits ground.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - CLOSE UP (½) (L)

               Her glasses smash.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (2) (S)

               Flash Cathy - she sees and runs back. Birds swirling around.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (S)

               Six birds descend on fallen Michele - legs running by.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (3) (S)

               Cathy RUSHES IN. She disperses birds and bends to pick up 
               Michele.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (2) (S)

               Melanie stops, looks back and sees Cathy and Michele, heads 
               of other children rushing by in foreground. Birds swirling.  
               Melanie dashes out left.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (3) (S)

               Melanie reaches Cathy and Michele -- Michele is now on her 
               feet. Birds swirling -- Melanie looks about -- sees.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (2) (L)

               Station wagon across the street. Birds swirling about and 
               children running by.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (5) (L)

               Melanie drags Cathy and Michele to the station wagon. We see 
               the Bay in the distance and children running on the bottom 
               of the street.

               INT. STATION WAGON - CLOSE SHOT (8) (S)

               Shooting inside the wagon across the front seat. The three 
               scramble in, Cathy first, then Michele and Melanie last --

               the door SLAMS on crows swooping around. Cathy and Michele 
               are SCREAMING with fright.

               INT. STATION WAGON - P.O.V. (3) (FP)

               Through the windshield we see crows attacking. Bay and running 
               children in distance.

               INT. STATION WAGON (3) (P)

               The faces of the three - Birds are fluttering on the rear 
               window.

               INT. STATION WAGON - MELANIE (3) (P)

               wheel in foreground. She starts to slam hand on horn ring.

               INT. STATION WAGON (2) (S)

               Crows attacking side window.

               INT. STATION WAGON (2) (S)

               Hand on horn ring.

               INT. STATION WAGON (2) (P)

               Cathy and Michele's faces huddled together.

               INT. STATION WAGON (2) (P)

               Melanie's big head - she looks down.

               INT. STATION WAGON - CLOSE UP (1) (P)

               Knob of wiper -- her hand comes in and pulls it out.

               INT. STATION WAGON (3) (FP)

               Wipers starting. Crows retreat.

               INT. STATION WAGON (2) (P)

               The three faces staring out.

               INT. STATION WAGON - P.O.V. (3) (P)

               through windshield. The crows are starting to go away.

               INT. STATION WAGON (2) (P)

               Melanie looks out and sees:

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - P.O.V. (6) (FP)

               through windshield. Annie running back with stick. She beats 
               the last of the crows away.

               INT. STATION WAGON (6) (S)

               Melanie flops in exhaustion over the wheel as Annie comes 
               round to the side window and starts to open the door.

Now the movie version of the scene:

There are a few key differences between script and screen — most notably Melanie (Tippi Hedren) doesn’t turn on the windshield wipers because in the movie, she doesn’t have car keys — but for the most part, the script is a shot-by-shot blueprint for the movie. This is not surprising because that is how Hitchcock operated. Here is an excerpt from an interview with screenwriter Ernest Lehman who wrote North By Northwest:

Hitch and I acted out the entire crop-dusting sequence in his living room. Then I incorporated every move into the script, and that was the way he shot it.

Storyboarding is really an illustrator’s work for the director. A motion picture illustrator puts pictures on paper and puts them on boards. In story-boarding a script for a Hitchcock film, the illustrator is told what pictures to put on the boards by the script, which has benefited from my conferences with the director. Of course, I participate in what is going to appear on that storyboard, because even without the storyboard the script describes exactly what is going to be on the screen. Hitch would have it no other way. The script even describes the size of the shot, whether it’s a medium or a tight close-up, whether the camera pulls back and pans to the right as the character walks toward the door, whether it tilts slightly down and shoots through the open doorway, getting the helicopter as the lights go on outside. That’s why Hitch says it’s a bore for him to get the picture on the screen, because it has all been done already in his office [emphasis added].

What can contemporary screenwriters take away from this script to screen post? Here are a few things.

* The scene reminds us that movies are primarily a visual medium. Just look at those pages, one image after another in quick succession.

* The screenplay, over 50 years old, represents a style whereby the script was a blueprint to produce a movie, even down to individual camera shots. Screenplay style has moved away from directing jargon and production lingo, evolving into a more literary feel.

* While it is uncommon to use camera shots in contemporary scripts, we can indicate them through the use of individual paragraphs. For example, let’s take the action inside the car and strip away the camera direction:

               INT. STATION WAGON 

               The faces of the three - Birds are fluttering on the rear 
               window.

               Melanie starts to slam hand on horn ring.

               Crows attacking side window.

               Hand on horn ring.

               Cathy and Michele's faces huddled together.

               Melanie's big head - she looks down.

               Knob of wiper -- her hand comes in and pulls it out.

               Wipers starting. Crows retreat.

               The three faces staring out. Through windshield -- 

               The crows are starting to go away.

Notice how each line suggest a camera shot without use camera lingo? This style allows writers to ‘direct’ the action in a more literary fashion than the production blueprint approach of yesteryear.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Say Anything”

October 1st, 2014 by

A memorable scene from Say Anything (written by Cameron Crowe):

Setup: Lloyd drives over to Diane’s house to deliver a message.

INT. DIANE'S HOUSE - DAY

Diane is lying on her bed, upset.  We hear music coming from 
outside.  Diane lifts her head slightly.

EXT. DIANE'S HOUSE - DAY

Lloyd has driven over, and is holding a boom box high above his 
head with both hands.  It is playing 'In Your Eyes'.

INT. DIANE'S HOUSE - DAY

Diane lets her head drop back onto the pillow when she realizes 
where the music is coming from, and who it is. 

EXT. DIANE'S HOUSE - DAY

Lloyd is still there, in the same position as before.

INT. DIANE'S HOUSE - DAY

Diane turns away from the window, trying to ignore the music.

EXT. DIANE'S HOUSE - DAY

Lloyd is still there, raising the box slightly at times, getting 
uncomfortable, but still stays there.  The camera slowly zooms 
into his face.

Here is the movie scene:

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script To Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Batman”

September 24th, 2014 by

The Final Struggle in the 1989 movie Batman.

Plot Summary: The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker.

        INT. BELFRY - THAT MOMENT

        The Joker, hearing something beneath the trapdoor, begins
        to move the second bell over it.  However, his curiosity
        gets the better of him and he lifts the trap a fraction
        of an inch.  He opens the trap fully, no Batman.

                                JOKER
                  I must have belled the bat!

        Joker LAUGHS then stops and looks around slowly.

                                JOKER
                  There ain't any more of you up
                  here, are there? -- Daddy or Momma
                  bat?

        The Joker LAUGHS, CRAZILY.

                                BATMAN (O.S.)
                  My parents are dead.  But you
                  remember that, don't you, Jack?

        Joker turns quickly to see Batman standing with cape un-
        furled.  A rappeling line hangs from his belt and out
        onto the parapet.  A small pulley on the belt.  The
        Joker CACKLES.

                                JOKER
                  You climbed up the outside with
                  a rope!
                         (LAUGHTER)
                  You little monkey!  God, look at
                  you.  You're a mess.
                         (laughs)
                  They're gonna be real mad at the
                  costume shop when they see what
                  you did to their suit.

        Batman steps toward him.  Joker steps back into the
        half-dark.

                                BATMAN
                         (wicked smile)
                  Yeah, and they asked me to bring
                  your face back to the shop for
                  some work.  Even if I have to tear
                  it off.

                                JOKER
                  You maniac, it was you who dropped
                  me in the tanks.  You made me.

                                BATMAN
                  I made you.  And you made me.

                                JOKER
                  What is this?  I say you made me
                  and you have to say I made you?
                  How childish can you get?  You're
                  insane.

                                BATMAN
                         (the voice of doom)
                  Are we going to kill each other,
                  Jack?

                                JOKER (O.S.)
                         (slightly nervous)
                  Jack?  Jack's out, I'm running his
                  body while he's gone.

                                BATMAN
                  Well, when you see him -- tell him
                  I'm gonna kick his ass!

        Batman steps in Joker's direction.  From out of the dark-
        ness Joker swings a huge BELL which SMASHES INTO BATMAN.
        He is knocked over backwards out onto the parapet, he
        nearly falls over the edge.

        BATMAN'S POV OF GROUND ZERO - NIGHT

        A frightening view thirty stories down toward death.

        EXT. CATHEDRAL - NIGHT

        Batman catches himself just before he topples over.

        INT. BELFRY - NIGHT

        Joker creeps around alone.  Not sure if Batman fell.  He
        hides, flattened up against an archway inside the belfry.

        SOUND OF CHOPPER in distance.  Joker hears it.

                                JOKER
                         (into his radio)
                  Step on it.  I'll be on the roof.

        SUDDENLY, Batman appears behind Joker's shoulder.  He
        jerks an arm around Joker's neck, pinning him against
        archway.

                                BATMAN
                  Have you danced with the devil in
                  the pale moonlight?

        Joker jumps off the ground.  He tries to get away.
        Batman wraps his other arm around and, "click," hand-
        cuffs himself to the Joker.

                                BATMAN
                  Well, now's your big chance.

        Joker struggles.  He twists and turns the handcuffs but
        can't shift them.  He can hardly move.

                                JOKER
                         (pulling a Joker
                          flower from his coat)
                  That was dumb.  Now I'm going to
                  have to operate.

        Joker SQUIRTS acid on the handcuffs.

        Batman slips his arms back around Joker, pulling him into
        the open.  They stand tethered face-to-face.  Joker hits
        Batman hard, Batman returns the blow, Joker hits again,
        and Batman returns.

        The Joker gives a tremendous tug and the SIZZLING HAND-
        CUFFS BREAK.  He runs to the wooden louvers.

        Joker breaks a 2 by 4 from the wooden framework of belfry
        and SMASHES Batman with it.

        Batman goes down.  Joker hits him again.  HELICOPTER AP-
        PROACHES and dangles ladder over parapet.  Joker STEPS
        OUT onto parapet.  He grabs for the dangling ladder.

        Batman looks up from where he has fallen.

        HIS POV

        UP INTO belfry where there are thousands of Bats stirring.

        ON BATMAN

        He activates a sonar device on his belt.  A SHRILL WHINE
        lifts into the air.

                                                   CUT TO:

        EXT. BELLTOWER PARAPET - THAT MOMENT

        Helicopter HOVERS at the side of the belltower.  Joker
        steps up onto the wall between two GARGOYLES and puts
        his foot onto one of the rungs of the ladder.  He looks
        up as he hears UNEARTHLY SCREAMING FROM BELFRY.

        EXT. BELLTOWER PARAPET - THAT MOMENT

        Suddenly the AIR IS FULL OF BATS, diving and flapping
        all over the place.  The NOISE from Batman's belt CLIMBS
        IN PITCH.  As it does so the bats fly faster.  They swarm
        above Joker in an ever thickening black cloud.

        EXT. BELLTOWER PARAPET - MOMENTS LATER

        The swarm of bats sweeps out and engulfs him.  He SCREAMS,
        tries to beat them off.

        ON BATS

        Suddenly Batman steps through the cloud.

        He grabs Joker.  Pulling him off the ladder.  Batman
        lifts him bodily up off the ground by front of his coat.
        He pushes him back against a Gargoyle.

        Joker struggles and the Gargoyle crumbles and Joker
        slips backward.  Joker knows he's a dead man, and he
        smiles.  He grabs for Batman's cowl and grips it as he
        falls.

                                JOKER
                  I saved the last dance for you.
        Both of them tumble down into the endless darkness.

        EXT. CATHEDRAL TOWER - NIGHT

        Two bodies fall in pas de deux.  Joker SCREAMS.  SOUND OF
        WIND RUSHING BY.

        EXT. FALLING POV - NIGHT

        CAMERA FALLS DOWNWARD.  Lights float lazily up AT us from
        the onrushing street below.

        EXT. FALLING - NIGHT - TIGHT

        BATMAN FIRES a hook and a line back up at the roof.

        ON HOOK

        It lands on roof and skitters along looking for a crevice
        to hook on.

        ON JOKER

        He stares back at Batman as he drifts away.  JOKER'S
        LAUGHING ALL THE WAY DOWN.

        ON HOOK

        SKITTERING.

        ON BATMAN

        He spreads his cape, slowing down a bit.

        ON GARGOYLE

        Hook skitters to it and seizes on its grimacing jaws.

        ON JOKER (SLOW MOTION)

        He plummets to earth CRASHING ON CATHEDRAL STEPS.
        LAUGHTER STOPS!

        ON BATMAN (SLOW MOTION)

        HE FALLS, TURNS UPSIDE-DOWN AND STOPS in mid-air.

        Coming to the end of a long tether from the top of the
        tower.  He bounces a bit and hangs upside-down.  Like a
        bat.  A SCREAM fills the air.

        EXT. CHURCH STEPS - OVERHEAD ANGLE

        We're looking DOWN AT the Joker, whose body lies splayed
        and broken on the steps.  We DRIFT DOWNWARD, CLOSER,
        until his FACE FILLS THE SCREEN, his chilling grin still
        intact.

        The Joker's expression is almost childlike, as he stares
        aimlessly at the stars.

The scene from the movie:

Lots of differences especially in dialogue suggesting there was a great deal of improvisation going on. Which ones are the most significant changes?

By the way, one of the few hard copy scripts I’ve saved over the years is the very first version of this project written by Sam Hamm. Excellent as I recall.

Any of you prefer this version of Batman to The Dark Knight? If so, I’d love to hear why.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery”

September 17th, 2014 by

A scene from the 1997 comedy Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, written by Mike Myers.

Plot Summary: A 1960s hipster secret agent is brought out of cryofreeze to oppose his greatest enemy in the 1990s, where his social attitudes are glaringly out of place.

               INT.  THERAPIST'S OFFICE - NEXT DAY

               We're in the middle of a group therapy session, containing 
               six or seven FATHERS with their teenage SONS.  It is 
               emotionally charged.  A lot of pained expressions and coffee 
               in Styrofoam cups.

                                     SON 1
                              (crying)
                         I love you, Dad.

                                     DAD 1
                         I love you, Son.

               They hug.  Everyone APPLAUDS.  We see Dr. Evil and Scott.

                                     THERAPIST
                         That was great, Mr. Keon, Dave.  
                         Thank you.  OK, group, we have two 
                         new members.  Say hello to Scott and 
                         his father, Mr....Ehville?

                                     DR. EVIL
                         Evil, actually, Doctor Evil.

                                     GROUP
                         Hello, Dr. Evil.  Hello, Scott.

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                              (into it)
                         Hello, everybody.

                                     THERAPIST
                         So, Scott, why don't we start with 
                         you.  Why are you here?

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         Well, it's kind of weird.

                                     THERAPIST
                         We don't judge here.

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         OK.  Well, I just really met my Dad 
                         for the first time three days ago.  
                         He was partially frozen for thirty 
                         years.  I never knew him growing up.  
                         He comes back and now he wants me to 
                         take over the family business.

                                     THERAPIST
                         And how do you feel about that?

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         I don't wanna take over the family 
                         business.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         But Scott, who's going to take over 
                         the world when I die?

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         Not me.

                                     THERAPIST
                         What do you want to do, Scott?

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         I don't know.  I was thinking, maybe 
                         I'd be a vet or something, cause I 
                         like animals and stuff.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         An evil vet?

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         No.  Maybe, like, work in a petting 
                         zoo or something.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         An evil petting zoo?

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                              (shouting)
                         You always do that!
                              (calm)
                         Anyways, this is really hard, because, 
                         you know, my Dad is really evil.

                                     THERAPIST
                         We don't label people here, Scott.

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         No, he's really evil.

                                     THERAPIST
                         Scott.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         No, the boy's right.  I really am 
                         evil.

                                     THERAPIST
                         Don't be so hard on yourself.  You're 
                         here, that's what's important.  A 
                         journey of a thousand miles begins 
                         with one step.

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         I just think, like, he hates me.  I 
                         really think he wants to kill me.

                                     THERAPIST
                         OK, Scott, no one really wants to 
                         "kill" anyone here.  They say it, 
                         but they don't mean it.

               The group LAUGHS.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         Actually, the boy's quite astute.  I 
                         am trying to kill him.  My Evil 
                         Associates have cautioned against 
                         it, so here he is, unfortunately, 
                         alive.

                                     THERAPIST
                         We've heard from Scott, now let's 
                         hear from you.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         The details of my life are quite 
                         inconsequential.

                                     THERAPIST
                         That's not true, Doctor.  Please, 
                         tell us about your childhood.

                                     GROUP
                         Yes, of course.  Go ahead, etc.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         Very well, where should I begin?  My 
                         father was a relentlessly self-
                         improving boulangerie owner from 
                         Belgium with low-grade narcolepsy 
                         and a penchant for buggery.  My mother 
                         was a fifteen-year-old French 
                         prostitute named Chloe with webbed 
                         feet.  My father would womanize, he 
                         would drink, he would make outrageous 
                         claims, like he invented the question 
                         mark.  Sometimes he would accuse 
                         chestnuts of being lazy.  A sort of 
                         general malaise that only the genius 
                         possess and the insane lament.  My 
                         childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, 
                         luge lessons.  In the spring we'd make 
                         meat helmets.  If I was insolent, I was 
                         placed in a burlap bag and beaten with 
                         reeds.  Pretty standard, really.  At the 
                         age of twelve I received my first scribe.  
                         At the age of fifteen, a Zoroastrian named 
                         Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles.  
                         There really is nothing like a shawn 
                         scrotum.  At the age of eighteen, I went 
                         off to evil medical school.  From there...

               ANGLE ON THE THERAPIST AND THE GROUP.  They are stunned.

Here is the scene from the movie:

Not many differences, some additional lines for Dr. Evil and the therapist. Why? Probably to give Mike Myers and Carrie Fisher a bit more flavor within the scene. Interesting to note that Dr. Evil’s long monologue is pretty much delivered by Myers word for word. He probably worked over that speech a long time and liked where it ended up.

Any Austin Powers fans out there?

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “As Good As It Gets”

September 10th, 2014 by

The final scene from the 1997 movie As Good As It Gets, written by Mark Andrus and James L. Brooks.

Plot Summary: A single mother/waitress, a misanthropic author, and a gay artist form an unlikely friendship after the artist is in an accident.

In this scene, Melvin (Jack Nicholson) travels in the middle of the night to see Carol (Helen Hunt) to express his feelings about her, one last attempt to convince her to be with him.

Here is the scene from the script:

	She starts to turn. He tugs at her arm. As she turns 
	back to him.

				  MELVIN
		    Hey, I've got a great compliment 
		    for you.

				  CAROL
		    You know what? I... 

				  MELVIN
		    Just let me talk.
			    (gathers himself 
			     with uncertainty, 
			     then:)
		    I'm the only one on the face of 
		    the earth who realizes that you're 
		    the greatest woman on earth. I'm 
		    the only one who appreciates how 
		    amazing you are in every single 
		    thing you do -- in every single 
		    thought you have... in how you 
		    are with Spencer -- Spence... 
			    (he has reached 
			     her)
		    ... in how you say what you mean 
		    and how you almost always mean 
		    something that's all about being 
		    straight and good... 

	ON CAROL

	She stands on the precipice of being transported away 
	from the logic which has been her lifeline.

				  MELVIN
		    I think most people miss that 
		    about you and I watch wondering 
		    how they can watch you bring them 
		    food and clear their dishes and 
		    never get that they have just met 
		    the greatest woman alive... And 
		    the fact that I get it makes me 
		    feel great... about me!
			    (a real question 
			     filled with 
			     concern for her)
		    You got a real good reason to walk 
		    out on that?

	That last question clearly a true question, not the least 
	rhetorical -- she considers her answer, then:

				  CAROL
		    No! It's certainly not. No -- I 
		    don't think so. No.

				  MELVIN
			    (tentatively)
		    I'm gonna grab you.
			    (with conviction)
		    I didn't mean it to be a question. 
		    I'm gonna grab you.

	He kisses her. An awkward bomb of a kiss. They separate. 
	A tense beat. Then:

				  MELVIN
		    I know I can do better.

	They embrace again. He does indeed do much better. A 
	first-class smooch. CAMERA MOVES DOWN to see his foot 
	land squarely on a crack in the sidewalk without his 
	knowledge. They break -- look at each other without a 
	notion of where to take it from here, and the ALMOST in 
	unison begin to walk away FROM CAMERA, Melvin following a 
	path that avoids cracks. Suddenly the lights of the 
	bakery turn on as it opens for business.

				  CAROL
		    Warm rolls... 

	They walk to the bakery, Melvin avoiding the cracks. As 
	they enter the bakery, a WORKER moves toward them to 
	clean the entranceway. Melvin, forced to step back onto 
	a crack, this time notices -- registers the momentous 
	fact and joins Carol inside as we:

							FADE OUT

	THE END

Here is the scene from the movie:

There are some subtle changes in the movie. At the end of his monologue, instead of “You got a real good reason to walk out on that,” Melvin says, “Is that something bad for you to be around?” Both of them cast her choice in a negative light: “walk out on that” compared to “something bad”. I think the second line works best because the first line suggests a real option for her: to walk away. Plus the second line compels her to confront the reality of what she just heard which is far away from being something bad.

Another small change. Helen’s response in the script is ten words, three of which are the word “no”. In the movie, she only says the one word: “No.” My guess is this was a situation where Hunt as she “considers her answer” nailed all of those mixed emotions on her face for the camera to see. The only word needed was the single “No.”

A final note: One thing about Brooks’ scripts is the evocative scene description. Consider this:

She stands on the precipice of being transported away 
from the logic which has been her lifeline.

That is a wonderful piece of psychological writing that clearly evokes the dynamic tension at work within her emotional self. I should note it’s also an example of a so-called ‘unfilmable’. So if you run into one of those scripturalists who insist you can only write what a moviegoer can see or hear, just point them to this Oscar winning screenplay.

What other differences do you notice in the transition from script to screen? Head to comments and share your observations, and about the movie in general.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Army of Darkness”

September 3rd, 2014 by

Yes, it’s the Boomstick scene from the classic 1992 comic horror movie Army of Darkness, written by Ivan Raimi and Sam Raimi.

Plot Summary: A man is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home.

Here is the scene for what is reported to be the shooting script:

 
155	ARTHUR									
	   stares at Ash with hatred.
					   ARTHUR
			   For that, I shall see you dead.

156	ASH										
	   removes his sawed off shotgun from Wiseman John's horse and
	   turns to Arthur, then the crowd.
					   ASH
			   This is my boomstick. It's a
			   twelve gauge, double barreled
			   Remington pump. Next one of you
			   primitives touch me...
157	ASH SPINS,										    157
	   pointing the barrel just past Arthur. He, but no one else, has
	   spotted the surviving Second Deadite crawling up from the pit
	   on the forgotten chain.
	   The crowds gasp is cut short by....BLAMMITY-BLAM!
	   The shotgun belches flame. The blast cuts the chain, leaving
	   the Deadite teetering at the pit's edge.
158	ANGLE ON									
	   BLAMMITY-BLAM!
	   The second shot blows the beast into a backflip, sending it
	   summersaulting down into the pit.
159	THE SOUND OF THE GUNBLAST						
	   echoes off the mountains like distant thunder.
160	SHEILA, THE WISEMAN, ARTHUR AND THE CROWD				   
	   look to Ash in reverence.

161	ASH									
	   twirls the shotgun about western style: WHOOSH, WHOOSH,
	   WHOOSH...  and holsters it.
					   ASH
			   Bring me your hoo do man.

Here is the scene from the movie:

Here is an example of where what is on the screen is both quite similar yet quite different than the script. The structure of the scene, it’s primary point in relation to the plot, and tone are all pretty much the same. But there is an extensive reworking of the dialogue, adding a lot of lines. Here is a transcript of Ash’s actual lines from the movie:

Ash: Yeah. Alright you primitive screwheads, listen up. See this?
This is my boomstick! It's a twelve gauge double barreled
Remington, S-Mart's top-of-the-line. You can find this in the
sporting goods department. That's right this sweet baby was made in
Grand Rapids Michigan. Retails for about $109.95. It's got a walnut
stock, cobalt blue steel and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop
Smart. Shop S-mart. Ya got that?! Now I swear, the next one of you
primates, even touches me... Ya! (BOOM) (BOOM) Now, let's talk about 
how I get back home.

Why do you think Raimi added all of that dialogue? I have a theory, but I’d like to hear your thoughts. If you don’t respond, I may have to bust out my own boomstick!

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “American Pie”

August 27th, 2014 by

A scene from the 1999 movie American Pie, written by Adam Herz. Yes, the infamous apple pie scene.

Plot Summary: Four teenage boys enter a pact to lose their virginity by prom night.

Here is the scene in the script:

     INT. JIM'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY

     Jim enters his house, slinging his backpack off his
     shoulder.

                         JIM
                   (yells)
               Mom?!  I'm home!

     No response.  Jim walks into the kitchen, noticing a
     fresh-baked pie on the counter.  Next to it is a note:
     "Jimmy - Apple, your favorite.  I'll be home late.
     Enjoy!  Love Mom."

     Jim sniffs the pie, taking in the aroma.  Then stops...as
     a quizzical look spreads across his face.

     After a moment of thought, he slides a finger into the
     pie.  Moves it around a bit, studying the consistency.

     Then Jim becomes more curious.  We can see the gears in
     his head start to turn.  He looks down at the pie like
     it's... well, not a pie.

     EXT. JIM'S HOUSE - DAY

     Jim's dad gets out of his car, carrying his briefcase.

     INT. JIM'S HOUSE - CONTINUING

     Jim's dad comes in the door and stops dead in his tracks.
     His face drops, appalled.

                         JIM'S DAD
               Jim?

                         JIM
               It's not what it looks like!

                                                            CUT TO:

     INT. JIM'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY

     Jim and his Dad sit in silence, opposite each other at
     the table.  Jim stares into his lap, humiliated.  Jim's
     dad is crushed.  You've never seen such disappointment...
     but he's trying to keep his chin up for Jim's sake.

     In the middle of the table is the pie.  It's decimated.
     Mushed up, ruined...violated.

                         JIM'S DAD
                   (fighting back tears)
               I guess...we'll just tell your
               mother...that we ate it all.

Here is the movie version of the scene:

This is a payoff to a previous scene in which Jim and his pals are talking about sex in terms of the first base-second base-baseball euphemism:

                         JIM
               So let's say you get there...what's
               uh, third base feel like?

                         KEVIN
               Oh, man, that's kind of sad.

     Jim shrugs, embarrassed.

                         OZ
               Feels like warm apple pie, dude.

                         JIM
               Apple pie...
                   (then)
               McDonald's or homemade?

Presented with an opportunity to test said description with an actual apple pie, well… we see what Jim does. And does his father.

Trivia: When submitting his script to studios, screenwriter Adam Herz titled it, “Untitled Teenage Sex Comedy That Can Be Made For Under $10 Million That Most Readers Will Probably Hate But I Think You Will Love”. It was later changed to “East Great Falls High”, then “Great Falls”, and finally, “American Pie”.

The title may have changed, but this scene never did.

One of the best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “All About Eve”

August 20th, 2014 by

A scene from the 1950 movie All About Eve, written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and featuring one of the most famous lines of dialogue in movie history.

Plot Summary: An ingenue (Eve) insinuates herself in to the company of an established but aging stage actress (Margo) and her circle of theater friends.

Here is the scene in the script:

He hands Eve's drink to Karen. Max has wandered off. Other
guests are arriving. Margo gulps her drink, hands Bill the
empty glass. He puts it on a passing tray. Margo takes a
fresh one at the same time. 

			LLOYD
	 The general atmosphere is very
	 Macbethish. What has or is about to
	 happen? 

			MARGO
		(to Bill)
	 What is he talking about? 

			BILL 
	 Macbeth. 

			KAREN 
		(to Margo)
	 We know you, we've seen you before
	 like this. Is it over - or just
	 beginning? 

Margo surveys them all. 

			MARGO
	 Fasten your seat belts. It's going
	 to be a bumpy night. 

She downs the drink, hands the empty glass to Bill, and
leaves them. She passes two women, gabbing by the piano. As
they see her:

			WOMAN #1
	 Margo, darling!

			WOMAN #2
	 Darling!

			MARGO
		(passing)
	 Darlings...

She arrives at the landing just as Addison comes up with Miss
Caswell. Margo takes a drink from a passing tray. 

			MARGO
		(to Addison)
	 I distinctly remember striking your
	 name from the guest list. What are
	 you doing here?

			ADDISON
	 Dear Margo. You were an
	 unforgettable Peter Pan - you must
	 play it again, soon. You remember
	 Miss Caswell?

			MARGO
	 I do not. How do you do?

			MISS CASWELL
	 We never met. That's why. 

			ADDISON
	 Miss Caswell is an actress. A
	 graduate of Copacabana School of
	 Dramatic Arts. 
		(his glance is attracted
		 by Eve coming downstairs)
	 Ah... Eve.

			EVE
		(deferentially)
	 Good evening, Mr. deWitt.

			MARGO
	 I had no idea you knew each other.

			ADDISON 
	 This must be, at long last, our
	 formal introduction. Until now we
	 have met only in passing...

			MISS CASWELL
	 That's how you met me. In passing. 

			MARGO
		(smiles)
	 Eve, this is an old friend of Mr.
	 deWitt's mother - Miss Caswell,
	 Miss Harrington...
		(the two girls say hello)
	 Addison, I've been wanting you to
	 meet Eve for the longest time-

			ADDISON
		(murmurs)
	 It could only have been your
	 natural timidity that kept you from
	 mentioning it...

			MARGO
	 You've heard of her great interest
	 in the Theater-

			ADDISON
	 We have that in common. 

			MARGO
	 Then you two must have a long talk-

			EVE
	 I'm afraid Mr. deWitt would find me
	 boring before too long. 

			MISS CASWELL
	 You won't bore him, honey. You
	 won't even get to talk. 

			ADDISON
		(icily)
	 Claudia dear, come closer.
		(she does, and he points)
	 This is Max Fabian. He is a
	 producer. Go do yourself some good. 

			MISS CASWELL
		(sighs)
	 Why do they always look like
	 unhappy rabbits? 

			ADDISON
	 Because that is what they are. Go
	 make him happy. 

Miss Caswell drapes her coat over the rail, heads for Max.
Addison puts Eve's arm in his. 

			ADDISON
		(to Margo)
	 You mustn't worry about your little
	 charge. She is in safe hands. 

			MARGO
	 Amen.

Eve smiles uncertainly at Margo as he leads her away. Margo
looks after them. She downs her drink...

Here is the movie version of the scene:

First thing to note, the line “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night,” was named by the American Film Institute at the #9 most notable movie quote of all time. But it’s what happens after the line that ratchets up the plot, Eve connecting with Addison.

One thing interesting about scripts from this era is how close the actors stick to the dialogue as written. Few changes if any as is the case here. There’s a reason for that: During the first half-century during the evolution of movies, and especially during the 30s and 40s, many films were adaptations of stage play. Indeed, many screenwriters were playwrights. And in that world, the writer’s words were sacrosanct.

This attitude prevailed in Hollywood and it was only with the emergence of the director as auteur and the growth of method acting that we saw a screenplay coming to be perceived as a blueprint for production.

One of the best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Big Fish”

August 13th, 2014 by

A scene from the 2003 movie Big Fish, screenplay by John August, novel by Daniel Wallace.

Plot Summary: A son tries to learn more about his dying father by reliving stories and myths he told about his life.

Here is the scene in the script:

               EXT. SORORITY HOUSE - DAY

               Sandra walks out to him. She's smiling, confused, joyful and 
               scared. All down Greek Street, STUDENTS are coming out to 
               see the display.

                                     SANDRA
                         Daffodils?

                                     EDWARD
                         They're your favorite flower.

                                     SANDRA
                         How did you get so many?

                                     EDWARD
                         I called everywhere in five states 
                         and explained this was the only way 
                         I could get my wife to marry me.

               Out of nowhere, a tear drops down Sandra's cheek. She wipes 
               it off.

                                     SANDRA
                         You don't even know me.

                                     EDWARD
                         I have the rest of my life to find 
                         out.

               From down the street...

                                     A MAN'S VOICE
                         Sandra!

                                     SANDRA
                         It's Don. Promise me you won't hurt 
                         him.

                                     EDWARD
                         If that's what you want, I swear to 
                         it.

               The adult DON PRICE arrives. He's 230 pounds of football-
               playing, Skynyrd-loving, fraternity-proud muscle. And he's 
               pissed.

               A gang of his BROTHERS walk behind him.

                                     DON PRICE
                         Bloom!

                                     EDWARD
                         Don.

                                     DON PRICE
                         What the hell are you doing? This is 
                         my girl. Mine!

                                     EDWARD
                         I didn't know she belonged to anybody.

               Don Price decks him, knocking him down. Edward gets right 
               back up, but makes no move to defend himself.

               Unfazed, Don slugs him again.

                                     SANDRA
                         Stop it!

                                     DON PRICE
                              (ignoring)
                         What the matter, Bloom? Too scared 
                         to fight back?

                                     EDWARD
                         I promised I wouldn't.

               A beat. Don shrugs, fine. Then proceeds to kick Edward's ass 
               nine ways to Sunday.

                                     EDWARD (V.O.)
                         While I took the beating of a 
                         lifetime, it was Don Price who was 
                         ultimately defeated.

               As the ass-whupping continues, we 

                                                             INTERCUT WITH:

               INT. FRATERNITY HOUSE BATHROOM - DAY [FLASHFORWARD]

               Sitting on the can, Don Price pinches a loaf while reading 
               the new Playboy.

                                     EDWARD (V.O.)
                         All the physical activity had worsened 
                         a congenital valve defect. Put simply, 
                         his heart wasn't strong enough.

               Don Price squeezes down hard, trying to shit the unshittable. 
               Suddenly, he grasps his chest and collapses face-first on 
               the tile.

                                                              MATCH CUT TO:

               EXT. WITCH'S HOUSE / GATE - NIGHT [FLASHBACK]

               The same image of Don's dead face on the tile is reflected 
               in The Eye.

                                                         RETURNING BACK TO:

               EXT. THE SORORITY HOUSE - DAY

               The thrashing continues. Edward somehow fights his way back 
               to his feet, ready to be knocked down again.

                                     SANDRA
                         Don!

               Don is about to slug Edward again when he turns.

               Sandra pulls off her engagement ring. There's an audible 
               AHH! from her sisters, and an OHH! from Don's brothers.

                                     SANDRA
                         I will never marry you.

               A beat. Don stands stunned, his mind reeling.

               Edward, whose eyes are swollen almost shut, keeps waiting 
               for the next punch. Where is it? What's going on?

                                     DON PRICE
                         What. You love this guy?

                                     SANDRA
                         He's almost a stranger and I prefer 
                         him to you. 

               She hands him the ring. Another beat, then Don storms off. 
               But not before decking Edward one last time.

               Sandra leans over Edward's broken body. His head lies on the 
               daffodils.

                                     SANDRA
                         How can I convince you to stop?

                                     EDWARD
                         Go out with me.

               He smiles, his teeth bloody.

                                     SANDRA
                         Okay.

               As the crowd of students APPLAUDS and CHEERS, we CRANE UP 
               above the flowered battlefield.

                                     EDWARD (V.O.)
                         As it turned out, Sandra was able to 
                         keep her same date at the chapel. 
                         Only the groom had changed.

Here is the movie version:

There are some interesting cuts in the movie:

* No tear drop. Probably because it seems out of place for Sandra to express that level of emotion for a guy she barely knows, precisely what she conveys in the next line.

* The flashback to the witch’s eyes is cut. Perhaps because it interrupted the flow of the scene between Edward, Sandra, and Don.

* This exchange is gone:

Sandra: How can I convince you to stop?
Edward: Go out with me.
Sandra: Okay.

I suspect two things contributed to this cut. First, the smiles the actors summon up convey the point visually. Second, the following voice-over narration by adult Edward intimates that the couple did go out because they ended up getting married. So the sides were deemed extraneous.

How about that scene description from John August?

* The adult DON PRICE arrives. He’s 230 pounds of football-playing, Skynyrd-loving, fraternity-proud muscle. And he’s pissed.

* Don Price squeezes down hard, trying to shit the unshittable.

A reminder that we can use scene description not only to convey action, but also entertain the reader.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.