Sometimes, you get so caught up with the dos and don’t’s of screenwriting that you forget the basics– those “ghen ghen” things in transition form that got you interested in writing movies in the first place. Watching movies have now become a chore to me, and when trying to find an answer to how some things I want to do should be done, I watch a good movie. Watching a good movie is meant to be for the sake of enjoyment, but that has to an extent been lost to me, as I find myself scribbling notes as I go.
Remember moving from one scene to the other in a movie, and it feels like you’re still in the previous scene. This is because of the visual effects, till its revealed you’re in another scene? Ghen ghen! Well, I used to think only high class professional screenwriters were capable of writing such, till I realized it’s as easy as the audience being able to get what’s happening. This writing skill (or technique) is called Scene Transitioning. I never knew it existed as a course till I wanted to make that effect and searched how it can be done. It turns out, it’s a topic of its own, with it’s own set of do’s and don’ts.
Let’s imagine we have a dude getting set to go on a first date with this classy chick. He gets to the garage and remembers that his car is dirty from last night’s rally. He doesn’t want this classy chick to meet him with a dirty car, so he takes off his outing clothes, takes a bucket of water and rag and starts to clean, with the camera focusing on the back and forth movement of the RAG on the car. Next scene, back and forth movement of something that turns out to be an IRON on a finished dress. This classy chick definitely is taking the outing serious. She tries out the dress, and runs around the room looking for the perfect outfit, or what have you.
This may not be the most exciting example, but it sure passes across the message. Yes. This skill can be pretty exciting. It can also help in forcing you to arrange your scenes properly, or write better. It’s bad to do it too often, though. This way, it becomes very noticeable, sticks out like a sore thumb, and loses its value.
Although this isn’t the only way scenes transit, it definitely is my favourite of the five types John August and Craig Mazin identified:
Size: going from a very tight shot to a super wide shot or vice versa (works well for me in some cases)
Music/sound: new music means new environment most times (never tried, it’s uasually the director’s transition job)
Misdirect : continuing the dialogue discourse of one scene in another. Making people think it’s the same scene. (done this: awesome!)
Q/A: question in one scene, answer in the next scene. (Always)
Thematic (my favourite transition): just as described above. And the reason it’s “thematic” is because both visuals relate to one thing: preparing for a date.
Good thing is, you don’t have to panic if your story doesn’t have any transition. Just work on the beginning and ending of each scene to make it sync. Plus, it’s advisable to do it sparingly and vary it up. If you have no answer to some scenes, leave it rough.
I’ve never been so satisfied sharing any screenwriting tips like this one.
Isedehi Aigbogun, also known as ISD, is a staunch academic, holding a B.A., M.A., and PhD (in view) in English Language.
She’s a Screenwriter, Screenplay Analyst, Consultant, and Film Scriptic.