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You’re the Writer, Not the Director

By Michael Schilf · April 20, 2010

Okay, so you’re writing the screenplay, and sure, you’ve directed the movie in your mind’s eye, scene by scene, shot by shot. But because you see the film so vividly, down to every detail, one common pitfall you can fall prey to is writing in the camera instructions so the director and cinematographer can see how the movie should be filmed. Big mistake! 

Never DIRECT ON THE PAGE. Unless you’re fortunate enough to be directing your own screenplay, it’s not wise to dictate how others should do their jobs. Avoid using camera terminology: PUSH IN, PAN LEFT, TRACKING SHOT. Instead, VISUALIZE the subject; then DESCRIBE it.

What’s important will be clear. And it won’t matter whether the director chooses a CLOSE UP, MASTER, or surveillance camera POV. If you’ve done your job, the subject of the shot will still be the focal visual element, regardless of the specific shot selection.