December 12, 2009

Getting Cinemate: #1 Screenplay

A Screenplay (aka Script) can be defined as the written document containing sequential arrangement of scenes of a film. It contains the action (instructions regarding what happens on screen) and the dialogue. It thus says a story, not from a third person narrative (as in written fiction), but in the language of cinema.

However, many films, esp. in India, split the credit of 'script' into three parts:
1. the Story: the original storyline, not necessarily in the language of cinema
2. the Screenplay: that converts the story into a sequence of scenes (aka 'Scenario' in some European films, also in Satyajit Ray films)
3. the Dialogue: which when added to the screenplay, completes the script.

This explains why Filmfare awards each heads separately, while the Academy covers it under 'Best Screenplay'. Thus 'Best Screenplay' in Filmfare generally goes to 'structural' films like Yuva (2004), Life in a Metro (2007), Mumbai Meri Jaan (2008). Note how important the scene structures of these films are. While a Screenplay Oscar can go to a Juno(2007) which has an extremely simple structure but great dialogues.


  1. nicely explained there !! hope you unravel more terms like 'sound mixing' etc. ... i remember , after pookutty's academy award my mom asked me what does he do exactly and i couldnt really explain properly :)

  2. ha ha ha. so honestly said.

    that encourages me!

    i'll do it.
    just keep reading.

  3. explained with quite a clarity!

  4. i came, i read, i forgot :|
    okay, now that you have made me read a real screenplay, it's more clear and am less likely to forget.
    as a side note, i found the screenplay, as a direct draft, quite useless for a cinematographer while on location for shooting, and more of a useful document for actors...

  5. That's true. The director interprets the script for the cinematographer (and the actor and everybody else) and tries to find one unified vision that the team then works together to achieve. Since this document is 'direct' (as you say), the director gets the liberty to interpret it the way he wants.

    Scripts are essentially written in 'Master Shots'!