Many thanks to those of you who have sent in questions for this blog. Here are a few... 

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Q: For a script with voice-overs are there any guidelines for too many, or too few?

A: There are no hard-and-fast rules about the use of voice-over.  The main things to be aware of when including voice-over in your script are:

a). Avoid wall-to-wall voice-over. That sort of thing can be really annoying.  A little here, a little there is fine. 

b). Don't have the voice-over tell us what we're already seeing. In other words, if your character walks into a room and sits down at a desk, don't have the voice-over say, "I walked into the room and sat down at the desk." The voice-over should give us entirely new information to the scene and/or what the character is thinking/feeling. Having voice-over that actually contradicts what we are seeing can also be interesting.

c) If you're going to have a voice-over at the end of your story, make sure you have it at the beginning of your story. It's very jarring to suddenly have a voice-over in the final moments of the film when it wasn't established earlier on.

Many films have used voice-over effectively. Here are some that come to mind:


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Q: At the end of many movies, there are graphics describing what has happened to some of the characters in the film. What is the best format for this, rolling titles, or separate screens?

A: I say just keep it simple and keep it uncomplicated. If the director wants to use graphics/photos or rolling titles or whatever, let him make that decision. Your job is to tell us the movie is over and there are some final words about the story and/or characters. There are several ways of accomplishing this. Here are a couple:

BLACK SCREEN. Over this, SUPER legend: “Johnny Denton was killed in a car wreck on April 2, 1975…” 

Over BLACK SCREEN, SUPERIMPOSE: “Johnny Denton was killed in a car wreck on April 2, 1975…”  [Make sure you put quote marks around the word that are to appear on screen.]

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friv 4 said...

These questions and answers are reasonable and we feel interested. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Have you actually even watched Sunset Boulevard? Much of the narration often explains exactly what we're seeing happen on screen! It is filled with exposition of a type that would get a freshman expelled from Screenwriting 101.

Times have changed, and so have sensibilities.

Jim Vines said...

Yes, I've watched SUNSET BOULEVARD. And I never said to copy that particular narration. Just be aware of it. And honestly, I find the Joe Gills/William Holden voice-over to be quite effective. Can that sort "technique" pass muster in today's world? Well, yeah, I think it can--people still regard it as a great and entertaining film. I'd agree with that assessment. But if you don't, that's OK too.