The use of CONTINUOUS in sluglines?

Discussion in 'Screenwriting' started by fanatic_about_film, Jul 12, 2010.

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  1. Is it ok to use this in a spec script. I have been told 'NO'. Also i read this on a website:



    A lot of screenwriters use CONTINUOUS at the end of their sluglines in order to keep the reader aware of whether or not we’re still in the same scene as the slugline changes. But if it’s not apparent that the scene is continuous without you having to specify CONTINUOUS at the end of your slugline, then you need to go back and fix your scene(s) to make it clear that the scene continues, rather than using CONTINUOUS. Additionally, a lot of Production Managers and First Assistant Directors I’ve worked with simply hate CONTINUOUS in sluglines. When they’re breaking down the script for production, they want to know whether the scene is DAY or NIGHT. Not DAWN or EVENING. Not CONTINUOUS. Just DAY OR NIGHT.
    To reiterate: a script that’s written clearly and flowing well doesn’t need CONTINUOUS, because if it’s well-written, then it should be plainly apparent that the scene is a continuation of the last. I stick to DAY or NIGHT and leave the morning/evening specification to the brief descriptive text below, if I feel the setting needs more clarity.

    What are your thoughts on this?
  2. Igor

    Igor Bronze Member

    Fine. Ask those lazy production managers how wardrobe's supposed to know if a character is wearing the same clothes. Indeed, if one doesn't use "Continuous", should the first action block say, "Wearing the same clothes as earlier..."? CONTINUOUS and MOMENTS LATER and LATER tell the reader and myriad production people lots of things that otherwise would have to be spelled out.

    Besides, anyone writing a spec script is not writing for a production manager. Indeed, spec scripts don't have scene numbers, right? The immediate audience for a spec script is a reader.

    It's like having someone criticize your draft for not having sluglines and you say, "But, it's a novel." and he replies, "But don't you want it to be turned into a movie at some point?" Well, yeh... but that's not at this point. It's... LATER.

    John August ( suggests this work-around: DAY (CONTINUOUS), and that's what I do -- FWIW.
  3. Ronin

    Ronin Bronze Member

    For what it's worth, I've never felt the need to use CONTINUOUS in one of my sluglines. It's always been plenty obvious in the actual scene whether or not it's a continuation of the previous.
  4. Legacy

    Legacy Bronze Member

    I'm pretty sure that the proper format is CONTINUING. The best example of this is the beginning scene in the movie serenity, written by Joss Whedon. It is most often used when a character is moving through a household or building. For example:

    Jack picks up the cell phone, ringing profusely. He looks at the caller ID, and immediately puts it down. He walks out the door and into:

    Jack walks over to the window, and looks out.

    See what I mean? What may in the finished product appear to be a single scene may actually be broken into several scenes, with the use of CONTINUING, or CONTINUOUS. Other related slugs are LATER, SOON AFTERWARD, MOMENTS LATER, and similar. An example of MOMENTS LATER is prevalent in the movie "Lord of War".
    Yuri sits down on the bed, and leans over to kiss Nikki goodnight. He brushes his cheek lightly, when he notices a small plastic revolver on the side of the bed. Saddened, he picks it up.

    Yuri opens the trashcan, dropping the revolver in. He looks over, seeing his brothe Vitali...

    You get the idea. These cuts are good for showing the link between objects and people, often spanning very short periods of time. A good example would be a scene in which someone buys a gun, and then moments later firing it at someone.

    These slugs are all good for the preservation of flow, but you must be careful not to overuse them. Transitions are key in good storytelling! :D
  5. caseyhein

    caseyhein Silver Member

    Technically its CONTINUOUS, but it's not necessary. If you don't know for sure how to use them right, stay away from them you will just confuse yourself and everyone else.
  6. davidartiste

    davidartiste Silver Member

    I haven't written in a while, but I felt this needs clarification, so here goes.

    This IS what is acceptable in a spec script. If someone tells you otherwise, they are telling you something untrue.

    You can use:

    DAY - This denotes that the current scene is during the day

    NIGHT - This denotes that the current scene is at night

    MOMENTS LATER - This denotes that the current scene is a short period of time (undetermined) after the last scene.



    John gets into his Honda, starts it up and drives off.


    The Honda turns left onto Sunset Blvd and is immediatly stuck in traffic.

    CONTINUOUS - This means that the current scene happens directly after the last scene with no time elapse. Not even 5 seconds.


    John gets into his Honda.


    He sticks his key in the ignition and pops the clutch.


    The Honda drives off.

    SAME - This means the current scene is happenning at the same time as the previous scene.



    John gets into his Honda, starts it up and drives off.


    Betty exits a restaurant, walks over to her Toyota, gets inside and drives off.


    John doesn't pay attention to the road as he searches his car for his phone charger.


    Betty looks in the rearview mirror as she applies lipstick, not paying attention to what she is doing, when suddenly...


    CRASH! The Honda and the Toyota collide.

    Hope this clarifies it.
  7. Michael_C

    Michael_C Gold Member

    David's answer is pretty comprehensive and quite correct.

    But I still assert that it does not really matter. Like someone else stated, if your story isn't clear, no slugline edits will help to make it more lucid. These small formatting issues have never made or broken me.

    If your story is enthralling, it really wont matter.

    My suggestion is to read screenplays. Produced, professional screenplays.
    And take it from there.

    Some of the things we concern ourselves with are honestly issues of style, not craft.

    Craft is making the reader give a damn about the content, not the sluglines.

  8. wks2001

    wks2001 Bronze Member

    [ Some of the things we concern ourselves with are honestly issues of style, not craft.

    Craft is making the reader give a damn about the content, not the sluglines.]

    MC pretty much summed up everything that's crucial to storytelling in these two simple lines.

    Sometimes we wonder why the same movies keep getting made over and over again. Because ninety percent of us keep trying to recreate what's already been created, and what works...

    think about it ... why would somebody pay you millions of dollars to recreate what they already know how to do themselves...

    they wrote the book on duplication a long time ago...

    So, write your best.. read the books on how to present your story, then follow your on mind on how to write it...if you feel strong enough about it, then follow your dream. We are writers, we create the world first in which others have to live in.. believe in your power to influence others to follow your story.

    then write some more...

    someone once said, "Everything ever created in life, first came from a thought."

  9. ...I felt this needs clarification, so here goes.

    This IS what is acceptable in a spec script. If someone tells you otherwise, they are telling you something untrue.

    Hey Davidartiste, although i am sure you are probably right, i just want to know WHY you beleiev what you beleive. Are you a professional screenwriter, or had a spec script sold or what?

    Why do you think lots and lots of websites and other sources would be lying about the use of continuous in spec scripts? Now i am not talking about just any old screenplays, I'm talking specifically about 'spec' screenplays. Why would people say not to sue it if it wasn't true.
  10. wks2001

    wks2001 Bronze Member

    Fanatic, are you really after the truth ... Do you really want to know truth?


    YES, I want the truth!



    haha, always wanted to say that line...

    CONT'D were originally put in to let the production team know, once they start splitting up the script, this page belongs to the following scene - it's a continous scene...

    "OK, I was just wondering what happened to the rest of this scene.."

    Now u know ... it's continous... :)

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