In cinema, the scene is a minimal dramatic unit, which happens in a space. Chained together, the scenes make up sequences, and these, in turn, make up acts (in its classic form, there are 3 acts: beginning, middle and ending). Within each of these dramatic bubbles the plot must advance. Always.
The fundamental idea is that the scene reproduces the dramatic structure of the 3 acts within it, or the structure of the film we are writing (if it does not have a classical structure). At first this may hinder our radical inspiration from thinking about this, but over time it is incorporated and we no longer think about how to reflect the structure, and we begin to write loosely, sensing what is missing and what is left over... Let's get to it.
The elements of a scene
Character/s, specific physical space, action.
The plot advances when
Specifically, those we see in the script with hundreds of scenes, one after another. Each will have a title, the body (text and dialogue), and (only sometimes) scene transition cues.
In the film script, each scene has a title with a rigid format that indicates space and time information: whether it is inside or outside a space; in what space; whether it is day or night (sunset or sunrise are not indicated). It indicates the beginning of a new scene.
INT. ANA'S ROOM - NIGHT
The body is written. In general, all scenes begin with a brief description, not so much visual, but dramatic and action-oriented. The narrated text recounts the actions of the characters.
Then there will be the dialogues, centered on the page. To learn more about how to write in the correct format, I recommend that you visit an article I have written: The film script format
Sometimes a scene may end with a transition cue. The scriptwriter marks this because it is a narrative issue, although it is an intersection with the editing of the film. If it is dramatically important to the story, the transitions must be indicated.
The most common transitions are usually:
- CUT A (to indicate an abrupt cut)
- DISSOLVE TO (or cross fade)
- FADE TO BLACK (to introduce a void on the screen or the end)
A good scene is one that is necessary, but is not obvious. This same thing carries over to the film in general. Keep in mind and review very well the narrative need of each piece, do not get infatuated because your work will pay dearly.
Now, I say this for films with a classical structure and to be sold in the commercial industry, mainly. The series do not have such tight structures because you manage other times and the plots advance chapter by chapter. They are horizontal plots... We'll see.
The reasons for keeping a scene within the script and considering it necessary can be dissimilar. There are works that base their elements on the tone they need to create and sustain (perhaps psychological horror or suspense films), others on the genre (cases of Sitcom), others on a perfect structure (generally thrillers), others on the necessity narrative aesthetic, and not so much from what they tell, but rather from what they make the viewer feel (Lynch is a good example of this, although, of course, it is not an example of classical structure). As always, all these elections within the industry will be a negotiation between those who write, direct and produce.
I hope you liked this information and it was useful. If you are starting to write scripts and have questions, you can contact me by email. The most important thing: Don't give up!