Guides & Resources
Glossary for Screenwriting Terms
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.
Lock In
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.
Log Line
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.
Main Culmination
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.
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.
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.