Here’s a glossary I’ve written in an attempt to help get your head around the terminology often used in screenwriting, TV writing, and the film industry writ large. It is by no means comprehensive, and there is much debate about what some of the terms may mean. But, it’s a start. Enjoy.
- Above The Line: Expenditures/costs negotiated/spent before
filming begins, including source material rights (for adaptations) and salaries
for director, producer screenwriter, and actors.
- Act: See Syd Field, Blake Snyder. Every feature film
script is split into Three Acts – Act I, Act II, Act III. Each act contains
the major plot points and scenes that make up the script.
- Action: Movement in scene that pushes the story forward.
What’s happening on screen.
- AD (Assistant Director): Usually the person shouting on
- Adapt/Adaptation: When you write a screenplay based on pre-existing
source material (Includes short stories, plays, articles, novels, comics/graphic
novels, video games, etc.).
- Against (as in $100,000 against $500,000): You get $100,000
up front and another $400,000 if the film gets made, totaling $500,000.
- Agency: Can refer to either a talent or literary agency.
The negotiate deals. Can be very small (boutique) to very large (CAA, ICM,
- Agent: For screenwriters, an agent is a literary agent who
represents writers and their written works to film producers and "talent."
They rep/negotiate you on deals, sales, etc. They are usu. paid 10% of the
sales they negotiate.
- "&" vs. "and" (on the title page): If
you’ve co-written a script, this is an important distinction on the title page. If John
Smith & Jane Doe appears on the title page, it means the writers wrote it
together. If John Smith and Jane Doe appears on the title page, it means John
Smith wrote the original script and Jane Doe was brought on to do a rewrite
or polish or something. They did not collaborate.
- Antagonist: The Villain. Can be a person, society, nature,
etc. Usually should be manifest by a person or group to fight against.
- Arbitration: When there is a dispute regarding credits or
pay, the WGA steps in and arbitrates. Not fun.
- Assignment: Writing for hire.
- Attached (or Attachment): Commitment by talent (actor) to
being in your film. Crucial to getting films made.
- At The End Of The Day: When all is said and done.
- Baby Writer: Writer who is new to the industry. Usu. not a pejorative term.
- Background (or b.g.): Action or characters going on behind
the main action.
- Backstory: Your characters’ background/history. Often not
seen in the film. Happened before the film started.
- Bake-offs When studios call a bunch of writers
for a rewrite job, each writer pitching their own take on the material, for
- Beat: A plot point.
- Beat Sheet: A list of all the scenes in the movie in the
order they appear.
- Below The Line: Expenditures/costs associated with physically
making the picture.
- Bible (TV Show Bible): When creating an original TV series,
this document contains all the information related to the show: concept, setting,
characters, their bios, and their interactions with one another, and sample
episodes in logline plus one paragraph synopsis format.
- Bidding War: Happens when your script is hot and
more than one company is interested in your script, and they decide to do battle
by offering more $ than the competitor. It’s a good thing for
- Bookends: Scene at the (1) beginning of the movie, defining
the setting and plot and (2) at the end of the movie, wrapping everything
- Bow: Opening or premiere of a movie or production.
- B-Story: Major subplot. Usually
carries the theme, the subconscious goal, the secondary characters, and/or
the love story. The release valve from the A-story. There are also C, D, and
E stories or subplots.
- Brads: Used to bind your screenplays. Use two (ACCO-Brand),
No. 5 round-headed solid brass fasteners/brads, which are 1 1/4 inches in length.
Place brads in the first and third holes, leaving the center hole empty. This
makes it easy to take apart for copying.
- Bump: Element in a script that takes the reader out
of the story. A plot hole.
- Button: A joke, line, or action that completes the end of
a scene in style.
- CAA: Creative Artists Agency. Most powerful talent and literary
agency in Hollywood. They rep Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Reese
Witherspoon, Nicolas Cage, Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman, Bruce Willis, etc.
- Card Stock: Type of paper you should use for your title
page. No colors, please.
- Cave (as in the Cave Scene): Midpoint. See Campbell and
- Character: Humans, animals, aliens, etc. in your movie.
- Character Arc (or Arc): The path of your character’s transformation
across the entire movie.
- Climax: The highest point of the drama in the script. Happens
in Act III, right before the resolution.
- Clunky: AKA wonky. Usu. refers to awkward dialogue.
- Complication: An obstacle.
- CG: AKA CGI. Means computer graphics. Usually refers to
the effects and art in your movie that will need to be generated by computers.
- Conflict: When characters’ goals oppose one another, society,
the elements, etc. CONFLICT IS STORY.
- Coverage: Story analysis that readers write and submit to
their bosses. Includes a logline, synopsis, comments, and a pass/consider/recommend
- Craft Services: On set catering.
- Creative Exec: A development executive at a production company.
- Credit: What we’re all shooting for when the credits roll
or on the poster.
- Crisis: Hero faces deepest fears to overcome the antagonist
and innermost fears.
- Deal Memo: Written follow-up to a verbal agreement. Usu.
a done deal.
- Description: The more novelistic portion of the script. Describing
what’s going on and how it looks.
- Deus Ex Machina: Latin for "God from a machine." A
bad quick fix. A contrived
solution to a problem in the movie, which challenges our suspension of disbelief
and appears to have come out of nowhere. A bad quick fix.
- Development: Process of script revisions with the prodco
- Development Hell: When above goes badly and everyone is
- D-Girl or D-Boy: Development Girl or Boy. Usually means
Development Executive. Can be derogatory, but people still use it in a neutral
- Dialogue: What the characters say.
- Dilemma: Problem for your hero. A choice between two
seemingly terrible choices.
- Dramatic Action: What compels your protagonist to keep moving
forward. What keeps the story moving forward and how your protagonist tries
to solve the problem.
- Earn/Earned: When your characters work hard to overcome
obstacles and progress on their journey. They’re earning it.
- Endeavor: Agency that reps Dustin Hoffman, Adam Sandler, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Jennifer Garner, Keira Knightley, Tina Fey, and many more.
- Elevator (as in Elevator Pitch): When you pitch your script/movie
to someone in about 30 seconds. It can be done.
- Entertainment Attorney: These types of attorneys can actually
represent you to a production company, talent, director, or studio. They are
not bound by the WGA and can charge you whatever they want. They differ
from regular (contract) attorneys, who have no connections or clout in "the
biz." If you are unrepped, this is one way to get around the whole unsolicited
- Entrance (Character Entrance): The first time we see your
character in the script.
- Exhibitor: Movie theater (individual or chain).
- Exposition/Expositional: Background information of your
story and characters. Expositional is often a negative note, meaning
you’re telling me, not showing me. It is a necessary evil so the audience/reader
knows what’s going on. Not to be overused. See Subtext for help.
- False Victory / False Defeat:
- Fast Track: Script is ready to go into production right
away, without extensive notes and changes.
- Feature Film: A movie that will be released theatrically.
Anywhere from 80 minutes to 4 hours.
- Final Draft: Screenwriting Software AND the last draft of your screenplay. Denotes completion. Of course, you’re never done, right?
- First Look Deal: When a production company has to take all
their projects to a particular studio. Often these prodcos are on the
lot at said studio.
- Flack or Flak: A publicist or publicity agent.
- Flashback: In script when we cut back to a scene in the
past. Often stuff that happened before the movie. Sometimes flashbacks happen
to points earlier in the film.
- For A Price: A movie can be made within a reasonable budget for a particular
production company or studio.
- For Hire: Like writing on assignment. A one-off assignment
where you write a script for a flat fee.
- Formatting: The unsatisfying task of making sure your screenplay
looks right–margins, fonts, paper, brads, spacing, etc. See Compendium
Guidelines for more.
- The 405: Interstate 405. Main north-south
highway in SoCal. (In LA, people put "the" in front of highways and interstates.)
It’s the major bypass of Interstate 5 running through the Greater Los Angeles
Area. The entire 405 is the northern segment of the San Diego Freeway, despite
running no less than 75 miles from downtown San Diego. It’s always a parking
- Four Quadrant: The 4Q. Your movie has the broadest audience appeal.
1. men under 25 yrs. old, 2. men over 25 yrs. old, 3. women under
25 yrs. old, 4. women over 25 yrs. old. The ages may change slightly, but it
means young, old, male, and female will go see your movie.
- Fourth Wall (as in "Breaking the Fourth Wall"): A
stage play term. The invisible wall between the audience and the actors. The
suspension of disbelief. If broken, means that the character is showing his/her
awareness of the audience. Once done, it is very hard to get the audience
back. But, can be used creatively and effectively.
- Gap: Distance between the expected
and actual result between characters in a scene. What the characters want,
what they get, and how they react. Very cool.
- Genre: (1) The category/type of film or
script. Examples: Action/Adventure, Biographical (bio-pic), Character
Drama, Comedy, Cutting Edge Independent (i.e. Memento, Secretary), Drama, Epic
Drama, Family Animation (i.e. Pixar), Family Live Action (i.e. Disney), Fantasy,
Horror, TV (Comedy), TV (Drama), TV (Drama/Comedy i.e. HBO, Showtime, USA,
etc), Musical, Period, Religious/Spiritual, Romantic Comedy, Science Fiction,
Thriller/Crime Drama, War, and Western. (2) People often
refer to "genre pictures" as horror, sci-fi, fantasy, western, etc. Often
means smaller audience. A curious designation, since every film can fit
into a particular category or genre.
- Gersh (or TGA): The
Gersh Agency. Reps Tobey Maguire, Hayden Christensen, Kevin Nealon, Drew Carey
and Dave Chappelle, and many more.
- Greenlight: Studio is ready to make your film.
- The Grove: 189
The Grove Drive Los Angeles, CA 90036. Shopping Mall where many celebrities
go. Great movie theatre and people watching.
- Hack: A shitty writer. Writes garbage. You know, writers
before we’ve had our coffee.
- Helm / Helmer: To direct / director.
- Hero: Your protagonist. The person who we follow on the
journey. We are them!
- Heat: Interest in your script and/or you.
- High Concept: A concept that can be articulated in one
sentence, easily marketable, and widely appealing. Ex. Four Year Old Virgin,
Wedding Crashers, Star Wars, Jaws, Alien, Home Alone, Bourne Identity.
- Hip Pocket Deal: You are repped by an agency, but they haven’t
- Hook: What makes your idea pull us in (hook)? What makes
it unique, special, unexpected, ironic? If you have a bad logline, people will
- ICM: International Creative Management. Big agency.
- Inciting Incident: (aka Catalyst) The one thing that happens
to your hero that forces them to take action and go on the journey. This is
- Indie: Refers to Independent films or prodcos. Often
mistaken for being outside Hollywood, but function the same way as a studio,
just with a smaller budget.
- Industry: The biz. Hollywood.
- Ink: To sign a contract.
- Intercut: When used, denotes that the action is moving back
and forth between two or more scenes or when two people
are talking on the phone and appear on screen. Also called Phone Intercut.
- Insert: Indicates a close-up on screen without saying it.
- Jeopardy: What’s at stake?
- Jumped The Shark: The point in a TV series or movie when the characters or plot veers into the inane. Usually means a show has passed its relevance and has moved away from its original premise and appeal. Origin: When Fonzie “jumped the shark” in a 1977 episode of Happy Days.
- Kill all your darlings: Writerly advice attributed to
William Faulkner, Quiller-Couch, and Hemingway. Who knows who really said it.
- Leave Behind: One page printed out/emailed, consisting of
the title of your movie, the logline, a synopsis, and your contact information
- Legs: Longevity, as in, that show has “legs.” Usually used in reference to a TV series.
- Logline: 1-2 sentence description of your movie. Keep
to 25-50 words. Writing a great logline is often the hardest part of the screenwriting
process. Usually includes the protagonist, the primary (visible) goal/central
conflict, and antagonist.
- Lunch: Let’s take a meeting. Mostly people say, "I have
- Manager: Representative that takes 10-15%, manages your
whole career, and helps find you work. Many are also Producers.
- Material: Refers to the script.
- MacGuffin: Alfred Hitchcock’s term for a plot device that
motivates the characters or advances the story, but the details are usu. unimportant.
As he put it, “It is the mechanical
element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories it is almost always
the necklace and in spy stories it is most always the papers.” Examples include,
the letters of transit in Casablanca, the contents of the briefcase in Pulp
Fiction, the statue in the Maltese Falcon, etc. It’s what everyone is looking
for, but the journey is the most important thing.
- Meet Cute (or Meet-Cute): The moment in romantic comedies
(romcoms), when the two potential romantic partners meet in
unusual or comic circumstances, often highlighting their differences in personality,
- Mentor: Character in the script that helps the hero learn
something about themselves. They often die at Plot Point II. Ex. Obi-Wan
Kenobe in Star Wars. There are also False Mentors–characters
who we think are allies, but are really enemies in disguise, working against
the hero the whole time. Was a**holes. Ex. Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars.
- Midpoint: Usually right in the middle of the film. It’s
where the protagonist experiences a false victory or defeat, must fully commit
to the journey, experiences a first kiss, a major reversal, stakes
are raised, ticking clock kicks in, A and B stories
most important part of the film from a structural perspective.
- Montage: Like Series of Shot, but incorporates more
visually, used to show a series of related events.
- M.O.W. (Movie of the Week): Television movie. AKA Made For
TV Movie. Not so prevalent on network TV, more on cable outlets like
- Nobody Knows Anything: Quote by William Goldman (Writer,
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Princess Bride, etc.)
- Notes: Feedback from an executive, member of your writing
group, producer, etc. about your script. Can go from general to specific, reasonable
to downright illogical.
- One Hour: Television show, usu. drama.
- Obstacle: Anything that stands in the way of your hero achieving
- Off Screen (O.S.): Denotes that we hear a character’s dialogue,
but they are not on camera.
- One Sheet: Two meanings: (1) The movie poster OR (2) one
page printed out/emailed, consisting of the title of your movie, the logline,
a synopsis, and your contact information
- OWA (aka Open Writing Assignment): Project
in search of writers (rewrite, adaptation, or first draft on an existing concept)
in order to get it into production.
- Option: NOT a sale. This is an exclusive right to a project
for a specific amount of time (anywhere from a month to a year), sometimes
involving $, sometimes not.
- OTN (aka On The Nose): When dialogue explains in an obvious
- Outline: Varies greatly. Basically, a detailed breakdown
of all the scenes in your script, before your write it.
- Packaging/Packaged: Process of putting talent, and sometimes
$ together for a project.
- Pace: The rhythm of the script. Are the scenes hitting at
the right time. Are your acts too long or too short. It’s more a feeling than
a technical thing.
- Page One (or Page One Rewrite): Oh crap, my first draft
sucked so bad that I have to basically start over, as in rewrite from page
- Parenthetical: AKA a wryly. Used with dialogue to convey
a specific action or way of delivering dialogue. Use sparingly.
- Pass: (aka a Pasadena) NO.
- Payoff: Opposite of Set-Up.
- Period Piece: Film or script set in a different time period (aka the past).
- Pipeline: The slate of films scheduled for production.
- Pitch: The verbal telling of your story/script/movie. Can
vary from 30 seconds to 30 minutes depending on the type of meeting.
- Plants/Planting Seeds: Stuff that will need to be paid off
- Plot: The sequence of events in your story. It’s what happens
from start to finish.
- Plot Points: Moment in script that moves the plot forward
and spins it in a new direction. The Three Acts are broken out by major plot
points: Inciting Incident (Catalyst), Plot Point I (Break into
2), Midpoint, Plot Point 2 (Break into 3), and Climax. Also important
are the Opening Scene (Opening Image) and Resolution (Closing Image).
- Points: Monies accrued according to a pre-negotiated %,
if a profit is made. Some producers/directors/stars forego big initial paydays
for points on the backend, meaning they get paid a crap load after the movie
brings in a ton of cash at the box office.
- Polish: That last rewrite where you just clean up all little
errors and make your script perfect. No structural changes. May move some scenes
around, punch up some dialogue.
- Point Of View (P.O.V.): Shot from the character’s point of view.
- Poster: The actual poster for your movie. Try to visualize
this when you’re working on your script.
- Premise: The concept of your screenplay. The driving force.
Related to theme.
- Prexy: Shorthand for President (term often used in Variety).
- Print and Advertising (P&A): The marketing costs of a film.
Is not part of the budget numbers that you hear in the news.
- Prodco: Production Company.
- Producer: Person with most control on a film. He/she is
responsible for every aspect of the film production process from start to
finish, including finding the material, securing fundraising, attaching talent,
hiring key positions (Director, DP, Costume Designer, etc), and arranging distribution, Includes
Executive Producer, Producer, Co-Producer, Associate Producer, Assistant
Producer, Production Director, Line Producer, Production Supervisor, and
Administrative Producer. In TV a Producer is also a writer on the show.
- Production Assistant (PA): A gopher. Gets coffee, drycleaning,
car detailed, and even helps out on the actual making of a movie or TV show.
Hard job, low pay, long hours, no glamour. Have you hugged your PA today?
- Project: The movie.
- Programmers: Known as in-betweeners or intermediates.
A genre film made
by a studio at a modest budget (which usually means b or c level cast) that
they use to fill their release schedule. They can’t survive on tentpoles alone,
a programmer breaks out, they can do very well for a studio. If they miss,
they don’t lose much because they can usually make their modest budgets back
- Protagonist: Main Character. Hero. Person with the problem.
- Purchase Agreement: Contract you sign if someone wants to
buy your screenplay. Make sure you have an attorney look at these.
- Purple (language): Writing that is overly ornate and flowery.
- Query or Query Letter: A letter a writer sends to a production
company, agent, or manager in order to gain interest in their work.
- Raise the Stakes: When you create a situation where the
protagonist has more to lose. Obtaining his goal becomes riskier,
both physically and emotionally. Often happens at the midpoint, but should
increase throughout script.
- Reader: Also known as Story Analyst. They read scripts
and write coverage.
- Red Herring: Element intended to distract the reader/viewer
from a more important event in the plot, the real killer, or a twist
- Release (aka Submission Release): A legal document that
must be signed before submitting material for review by a production company
or other entity. Protects you and them.
- Representation (Repped): Refers to someone who works on
your behalf to get you work or negotiate agreements. Usually refers to an agent
of manager. See Ten-Percenter.
- Residuals: Payment made to the writer of a teleplay for
subsequent showings, screenings, usu. rerun of the work.
- Reversal: An obstacle that sends the protagonist in the
- Rewrite: After you’ve put down that shitty first draft,
it’s time to do the real writing, rewriting. This can be anything from a page
one (wow this thing is broken–main character sucks, structure is all over
the place) to a polish (I think my hero will say, "fragrant" instead of
"smelly.") of the dialogue and descriptions with no major structural changes.
- Rights: Legal permission to adapt source material for a
- Rings False: Something about a character and/or his/her
dialogue does not seem consistent.
- Rising Action: Put your characters through an emotional
roller coaster across the entire script.
- Rolling Calls: Something assistants have to do. Basically
means setting up conference calls for your boss while still being in on the
meeting AND fielding the incoming calls.
- RomCom: Romantic Comedy.
- Sale: When a script is bought outright. Lovely when it happens,
- Scale: When a prodco or studio buys your script, this is
the basic minimum amount they have to pay you according to the WGA. Original
screenplay for a film that costs more than $5m,
scale is $80,427.00 (including one more rewrite). More
- Screenplay By: Credit used to denote that you wrote the
- Scribe: What Variety calls a screenwriter or TV writer.
- Script Guru/Consultant/Doctor: Usually a former Screenwriter/Story
Analyst/D-Girl/D-Boy who works on an independent basis. Often brought in to
fix screenplays ("doctor")
without credit. Often have written a seminal book on screenwriting, teach workshops
around the world, and help studios with their projects. Include Pilar Alessandra,
Michael Hauge, David Trottier, Chris Vogler, Blake Snyder, Syd Field, John
- Sequence: Series of related scenes connected by a particular
problem or storyline.
- Series of Shots: Similar to a Montage, but are mini-scenes
making up a sequence.
- Set Pieces: The scenes from your movie that will be
in the trailer.
- Set Up: Act I (according to Syd Field), Pages 1-10
(according to Blake Snyder). What is the world of your protagonist before he/she
embarks on the journey.
- Shingle: Small enterprise/business, often set up by an actor or established player at a larger company.
- Single Camera: Usually refers to TV comedies like The Office.
- Shooting Script: After your spec has sold, the prodco or
studio takes it and adds scene numbers and camera direction.
- Shop: Take the script around to producers to get sold or
- Short List: When you’re a known writer in a particular genre.
For example, she’s on the short list of horror writers, or he’s on the short
list of romcom writers. These lists actually exist in hard copy format.
- Showrunner: The boss of a TV show–manager of the day-to-day
operations, hiring and firing, etc. Often
refers to someone (a writer) who is the creator/co-creator, producer, executive
producer on a show. They answer to the network.
- Sitcom: Situation comedy on TV.
- Skein: Slang for TV series.
- Slate: List of films scheduled for production.
- Slip: As in "slipped your script."
A representative secretly forwards someone a script before anyone else gets
to review and/or consider it, or as an unofficial
submission for co-production, casting, rewrites, etc. Always a secret.
- Slug or Slugline: Text in all CAPS @ beginning
of scene. Describes location and time of day.
Example: INT. OFFICE – DAY
- Slush Pile (or Round File): Shitty screenplays end up here.
It’s the garbage pile.
- Source Material: Original material adapted for the screen.
Includes short stories, plays, articles, novels, comics/graphic novels, video
- Spec Script: A “Speculative Script” is written on one’s
own (not for hire or under contract). It is a way to show the blueprint of
a movie, sell a movie idea, and sell your screenwriting skills. According
a "spec" is shopped or sold on the open market, as opposed to one
commissioned by a studio or production company. Usually written by writers
seeking an option, sale, representation, or attention from a producer.
- Spine: The through line of your story. The A Story.
- Story Analyst: Usually means a reader at a studio.
- Story By:
Credit can mean outline phase only or credit used when the basic narrative structure
was originally written with intent to be used for a movie (as opposed to a
short story) and the actual screenplay had different authors. A shared “story
is the minimum awarded to the author of an original screenplay.
- Stakes (as in Raise the, or What’s at):
- Subplot: B-story of your script. Usually carries the theme,
the subconscious goal, the secondary characters, and/or the love story. The
release valve from the A-story.
- Subtext: The unstated, unspoken, oblique feelings the characters
are having or implying. The experts do a great job of expressing the
unexpressed, making their characters lie through their teeth while we know
how they feel, and learning about characters through their actions.
- Sword and Sandal: Historical adventure films with swords,
sandals, chariots, robes, and columns.
- Synopsis: Condensed version of the screenplay
plot. Usually one page. Includes the main action, major characters, plot points,
and indicates act structure via separate paragraphs. References to subplot
are brief or non-existent, unless they directly effect the main story. Written
in present tense, character’s names written in CAPS the first time they appear
(just like a screenplay).
- Tagline: A phrase, slogan, or short sentence on the movie
poster that represents the tone and/or premise of a film. Ex. Alien – "In space
no one can hear you scream." Ex. The Fly – "Be afraid. Be very
afraid." Ex. Wayne’s Word – "You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll hurl."
- Take: For writing, means your version, point of view, or even pitch on a particular concept or idea…as in “What’s your take on this, screenwriter?”
- Talent: Usually refers to actors, even though we’re all
talented in our own way.
- Teleplay: Script for a TV show. Each show has its own guidelines
and templates. Dramas usually run around 55-59 pages, while comedies run around
44 pages. But there are no rules. Check the show you’re writing to see what
- Ten-Percenter: A representative who takes 10% of your earnings.
This usually means an agent or manager. If you have one of each, you’re out
20%. Don’t forget your lawyer on top of that.
- Tentpole: A blockbuster. Movie that serves as primary support and finances other projects for a company.
- Three Act Structure: Beginning, Middle, and End. According
to Syd Field, every feature film script is split into Three
Acts – Act I (Set-up), Act II (Confrontation), Act III (Resolution). Each
act contains the major plot points and scenes that make up the script. Act
I is about 30 pp, Act II is around 60 pp. and Act III is around 30 pp.
to Blake Snyder, the Three Acts are based on a 110 page script.
Act I (Thesis) is about 25 pp, Act II (Antithesis) is around 60 pp. and Act
III (Synthesis) is around 25 pp. See Plot Points for breakdown of three acts.
- Three Camera: Usu. means sitcom TV show.
- Ticking Clock: Usually what happens at the midpoint of the
script. Your hero is now under the gun to solve the problem before he runs
out of time.
- Tip: 10-20% left on top of the bill for your server. Writers are notoriously bad tippers. Don’t be one.
- Title: The movie’s name.
- Trailer: 2-3 minute commercial for a film. Includes
major set pieces.
- Treatment: Short story version of your screenplay or teleplay.
Primarily a sales tool. Usu. more detailed than an outline and synopsis, but
shorter than a step outline.
- Turnaround: When a studio
develops a project, but decides not to move forward with it, other studios
can take a crack at making it. If they want to do so, they have to pay all
the original fees (turnaround costs) to the original studio.
- Twelve Point Courier: The standard and ONLY font used in
screenplays. Variations: Final Draft Courier, Courier New. That’s it. Don’t
- Two-hander, Three-hander: A movie with two or three
- Tyro: See Baby Writer. Writer who is new to the industry. Usu. not a pejorative term.
- Unsolicited: Sending stuff that has not been requested via
official channels, ie. repped through agent, producer, manager, lawyer, etc.
- UTA: United
Talent Agency. They rep Alan Ball, David Chase, Dick Wolf, Harrison Ford, James
Gandolfini, The Coen Brothers, Johnny Depp, Judd Apatow, Owen Wilson, Rachel
McAdams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, The Rock, Wes Anderson, and many more.
- Valet Parking: How you park in L.A. Get used to it. Leave
no valuables in your vehicle. Carry cash for a tip.
- The Valley: The San Fernando Valley. Home of the Adult movie
biz. Like totally the mythical origin of the like "Valley Girl" accent and
- Voice Over (V.O.): When a character narrates what’s going
on, thoughts, etc. Like the force, must be used wisely,
- Wheelhouse: A writer’s area of expertise. Can refer to their
niche, genre, developing characters, writing dialogue, etc.
- Whiff of Death: According to Syd Field, this happen at Plot
Point 2, according to Blake Snyder, during All Is Lost. Something, someone,
or an idea dies here.
- Whitespace: The amount of whitespace on the page itself. Means
you’ve given the script room to breathe by not overwriting.
- WGA (Writer’s Guild of America): The official union representing working film/tv writers in Hollywood.
- Willam Morris Agency (WMA): World’s largest talent and literary
agency. Has repped Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Will Rogers, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn
Monroe, Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cosby, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank
Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, and the Beach Boys. Currently reps
Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, John Travolta and Eddie Murphy.
- Wrap: Completion of production/shooting of
a movie or TV series.
- Wrylies: Stuff written in parentheticals under the
character’s dialogue, as in BOB (sarcastically). Should not be overused. Most
actors cross them out anyway. Try to use action to show the same thing.