ASK DR. FORMAT: The Camera as a Character

By Dave Trottier • April 27, 2021

Dave Trottier, Dr. Format, shares advice on how to format your screenplay to implement a "cameraman" as an actual participant in a scene.

QUESTION

I am wondering how to write scenes where the "cameraman" is an actual participant in the scene.

Specifically, let's say the cameraman is interviewing someone, when suddenly an explosion occurs and everyone, including the cameraman, runs in terror.

[ASK DR. FORMAT: How to Format a Zoom Conversation]

If I write "Cameraman flees the area like a scared rabbit," that implies that we actually SEE him running, but in reality, I want him running with the camera still rolling. What's the best way to do this?

ANSWER

There are many ways to handle this situation. Here's just one. Let's cross-cut between what is happening and what the camera sees. That will help us keep the reader/audience oriented.

For example, let's say we’re already into the scene, and Nancy Cameraperson is filming teen sensation Rocko Jocko, who is being interviewed. All of a sudden… 

Simply keep writing until the scene ends.

I have attempted to make this clear and readable for the story analyst (reader) who will read it before recommending it (or not recommending it) to the producer or agent. The short paragraphs help draw out the drama and pull in the reader. Yes, I could have CAPPED the sounds if I wanted to; that’s optional in a spec script.

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In summary, your screenwriting task is to help the reader easily visualize the action and feel the emotion. Good luck and keep writing.


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